Masonry projects that use cement products, like mortar, concrete, and grout, can be messy. Muriatic acid is a sure way to clean masonry surfaces. This product is a very strong acid that will clean dried cement products off stones, bricks, and other masonry surfaces.
This is a very effective cleaning agent. It is also a very dangerous product, and extreme caution must be used when cleaning with muriatic acid. If the proper safety precautions are not followed, severe injury can result.
Now that you have been scared a little, it must be added that, with the proper precautions, muriatic acid can be used as a great cleaner. Many masons use it at the end of almost every job that involves a stone wall, patio, landscape steps or any other hardscape made with mortar or concrete. Follow the safety tips below and you can use muriatic acid safely and effectively.
Tips for Using Muriatic Acid Safely
- Keep it away from children: Do not let kids anywhere near this stuff.
- Always wear proper safety gear: You need thick rubber gloves, a respirator, safety glasses, a long sleeve shirt, and pants that completely cover your legs. This cleaner can stain your clothes, so wear something that you do not mind getting dirty.
- Have a supply of clean water on hand: This cleaner is almost always diluted with water before being used for cleaning. Water is used to wet the surface before and after cleaning. Fresh water can also be used to wash off any that comes in contact with your skin. In spite of all of the precautions you take, there may be a few occasions where some muriatic acid splashes on your hands and arms. A little fresh water neutralizes the acid and takes care of the sting. Always have a running garden hose nearby.
- Always pour acid into water, never water into acid: You will be diluting this cleaning product with water before cleaning any masonry surfaces. Use a plastic bucket to mix it in and always add the water to the bucket first, and then slowly pour in the muriatic acid afterward. Be careful when pouring the acid, because the fumes are intense and can be painful if inhaled. Never pour water into a bucket of acid. A chemical reaction can occur that can cause the acid to bubble out of the bucket and onto you. Always pour the acid into water.
- Take your time: Work slowly. If you rush, you are more apt to lose concentration and spill or splash the muriatic acid.
DIY Projects Using Muriatic Acid
Now that you know the safety precautions that must be used when cleaning masonry surfaces with muriatic acid, you are ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Do you feel up to laying a tile patio? Those with some DIY experience should be able to do the job themselves. A DIY masonry project that is better for beginners, being easier, is building a concrete patio.
Ham, Robert B. Residential Construction Academy: Masonry: Brick and Block Construction. Thomson Delmar Learning, 2008
Medical Management Guidelines for Hydrogen Chloride. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry