Muriatic acid, which is currently known as hydrochloric acid, is a strong inorganic acid which is most commonly known for its presence in gastric acid. As one of the prime chemicals in the human stomach, muriatic acid effectively raises the pH of the stomach in order to protect our body against harmful microorganisms. Furthermore, this raised pH serves to break down proteins, allowing the food that we have eaten to properly digest in the remainder of our digestive system. In addition to its presence in the stomachs of many mammals, muriatic acid has long been used in many industrial settings. Hydrochloric acid was found very early on to be very useful (and dangerous) because of its highly corrosive, colorless form.
Because it is such a highly corrosive mineral acid, muriatic acid is ideal for the removal of rust. It removes the iron oxide by reacting with it to form a salt, thus effectively removing rust from metal surfaces.
That being said, these same properties make its use very dangerous. Because of this, proper precautions should always be taken when it is being used. In most cases, muriatic acid is diluted before used. While this makes it much safer for use, it is not nearly as effective diluted as when it remains in its raw form. When undiluted, however, muriatic acid can lead to very serious health risks. If it comes in contact with skin, severe tissue burns and irritation can occur. Care should also be taken not to inhale this compound, as it can lead to serious respiratory issues. Because of these dangers, the United States Government officially classifies muriatic as a poison.
Use in Swimming Pools
Muriatic acid is used in swimming pools very similar to the way it is utilized naturally in our bodies. Because of its ability to lower the pH of water, muriatic acid is often used to help regulate the chemical balance in swimming pools. The ideal pH of a swimming pool is between 7.4 and 7.6.
How To Use Muriatic Acid In Swimming Pools
After you have analyzed the pH level of your water, you can use a mixture of diluted muriatic acid to lower the pH if necessary. Always wear rubber gloves when pouring the acid in. Remember that it can take several hours for the acid to circulate, so wait about four hours before checking the pH level of your pool again. If you need additional help, speak with your local pool company.
As with other dangerous chemicals, you should be very cautious when disposing of excess amounts of this acid. Because of its highly caustic nature, you should not dispose of it in the way that you typically dispose of excess liquids. This means that you may not pour it down the drains in your sink, down storm drains, or into the yard. You should also never dispose of muriatic acid in the trash because this can cause it to leak while in transit, possibly putting someone else in danger. To properly dispose of muriatic acid, you should contact your local waste facility and ask for their advice. In most cases, they will have somewhere that you can take a neutralized container of the compound for proper disposal. Talk with your local waste facility about their recommended method of neutralization and transportation. You can also call local pool companies to see if they are willing to dispose the acid.
The highly corrosive nature of muriatic acid makes it both incredibly useful and incredibly dangerous. In its raw, undiluted form, this versatile chemical can strip rust from metals, and has many other industrial uses. Improper usage, handling and disposal, however, can lead to incredibly dangerous internal and external burns. If you must use muriatic acid, exercise the highest level of caution.