Neutralize And Clean Up A Muriatic Acid Spill (Around A Pool)

Muriatic acid, also known as hydrochloric acid, is commonly used to reduce the pH or alkalinity in swimming pools. If this reactive liquid is accidentally spilled, it can easily damage a range of surfaces. In this article, you will discover how to neutralize and clean up a muriatic spill around a pool.

Will Spilled Muriatic Acid Damage Pool Surrounds?

Spilled muriatic acid will damage pool surrounds due to it being such a hazardous and acidic chemical. It can affect different surfaces in different ways, so let’s explore different materials and the effects that muriatic acid will have on them.

concrete plunge pool
Muriatic acid will etch concrete if it isn’t washed off quickly.

The Effect of Muriatic Acid On Different Pool Surrounds

MaterialThe Damage
ConcreteMuriatic acid is used to acid-wash concrete and remove stains but must be diluted and applied appropriately.

If spilled, however, it can cause the concrete to weaken. It will begin to peel, scale, and etch concrete and cement.    
Wood DeckingA muriatic acid spill can eat away at softwood, causing damage to the wood that cannot be repaired. Hardwood will handle the acid better.
Brick PaversMuriatic acid can cause acid burn in the brick, which can result in brown or greenish stains appearing on the pavers.   Again it will also etch the surface of pavers and bricks if left for too long.
GrassIf any muriatic acid is spilled on the grass, the grass in that area will die.

From this table, we can see that muriatic acid is a very powerful chemical and it will damage many materials that are used for pool surrounds.

It is important that you understand the damage that it can cause, so you know that if you do happen to spill muriatic acid, you can get it cleaned up fast.

Will Muriatic Acid Stain?

In addition to the damage, muriatic acid can cause to pool surrounds, you may be wondering if it will permanently stain common surfaces such as:

  • Concrete or cement
  • Timber or wood decks
  • Pavers
  • Bricks

Muriatic acid will more likely “clean” the surface and return it to its original state or color. This means, that if you have an older dirty surface, you may notice a cleaner patch where the acid was spilled. Eventually, this will discolor again to match the rest of the surface.

Related Reading: How to Clean Pool Cartridge Filter (Using Muriatic Acid)

What To Do If You Spill Muriatic Acid?

If you spill muriatic acid, don’t freak out! Breathe and follow some safety precautions first before you try to fix anything.

You want to react quickly to reduce the damage to the pool area, but ensure you have a clear head to avoid making any more mistakes.

Safety Precautions When Neutralizing And Cleaning Up Muriatic Acid

It is important that you use some safety precautions when you are around spilled muriatic acid because it can be very hazardous to your skin, lungs, and eyes.

Here are some precautions to take:

  • Do not breathe in the vapor
  • Wear eye protection and rubber gloves
  • Wear liquid-proof clothing
  • Ensure there are no ignition sources in the area
  • Make sure the acid does not go down any drains in the area
  • Keep other people, children, and animals away from the spill
  • Call for assistance if you feel like you do not have the ability to clean it up yourself

How Fast To React To A Muriatic Acid Spill

You would want to react quickly to the muriatic acid spill once you have got on the correct safety gear and have what you need to treat the spill. Put your safety first over rushing to clean up the accident.

The longer you leave it, the more it will be to damage the surface it was spilled on.

What To Use To Neutralize Muriatic Acid

There are a few different chemicals you can use to neutralize a muriatic acid spill by your swimming pool. See what you have at home in your laundry or garage.

If you have a suitable substance to use on the spill, use that unless you have the availability to head to your local shops to grab a suitable remedy.

Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)

You can use baking soda to neutralize muriatic acid. It is likely that you will have this in your kitchen pantry or with your pool chemicals. In the pool industry, it’s often called “Alkalinity Increaser” or “Alkalinity Up”.

It can be a great accessible substance to put over the muriatic acid spill. You can pour the powder over the muriatic acid spill and allow it to neutralize.

Related Reading: Soda Ash or Baking Soda for Pool | Which is Better?

Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate)

If you have soda ash at home or for your pool, you can pour it around and on the muriatic spill. Soda ash is also sold as “pH Up” or “pH Increaser”. It may form a syrupy-like substance and a bit of heat and bubbling may occur during the neutralization process.

Here is Amazon’s top choice product for Soda ash that you can buy online to have in case of a muriatic spill.

Jacquard Soda Ash 1lb Pkg

Lime (Calcium Carbonate)

Lime will neutralize the muriatic acid quite quickly and will create a heavy and low-volume sludge once added to the acid.

This is probably the best chemical to use to neutralize muriatic acid if you have it available. It is cheap and safe to handle.

Dolomite (Calcium Magnesium Carbonate)

Dolomite is a perfect neutralizer to use on a muriatic acid spill if you have it at home and if the spill is quite large. Dolomite is often used in gardening. A salty sludge will form when you add the dolomite to the acid.

Will Vinegar Neutralize Muriatic Acid?

Vinegar will not neutralize muriatic acid as they are both acids. Adding vinegar may change its concentration but will not neutralize the muriatic acid in any way. It’s best not to waste your time using vinegar, as there are many more beneficial neutralizing substances to use.

Related Reading: How to Lower Hot Tub pH Naturally (Using Vinegar)

Will Water Neutralize Muriatic Acid?

Never put water on a muriatic acid spill. Not only will it fail to neutralize the spill, but it will also add to the hazard.

Pouring water onto muriatic acid is the worst mistake you can make. That’s because this type of acid produces an exothermic reaction, which releases a ton of heat. If you pour water on it, the water will quickly boil, releasing fumes into the air and possibly splashing your face with acid.

In fact, whenever you use muriatic, it must be poured into a bucket of water. If you pour the acid first and add the water after, you’ll witness the same exothermic reaction.

The only time you want to use water with muriatic acid is if it gets on your skin. Avoid using water to neutralize muriatic acid as it is not necessary and won’t do much at all.

A Simple 3-Step Guide To Neutralize Muriatic Acid

Here is a simple and easy-to-follow guide to support you step by step to neutralize the muriatic acid spill around your swimming pool.

1. Choose Your Neutralizing Substance

You want to decide what substance you will use to neutralize the muriatic acid spill, such as baking soda, soda ash, lime, or dolomite.

If you have one of these options at home, use that, or else pop down to your local store and find one of these neutralizing substances so you can quickly get back home to sort out the issue.

2. Get Your Safety Gear On

It’s better to be safe than sorry! Don’t worry about what your neighbors may think, but instead think about your safety and wellbeing.

  • Acid-proof rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Long sleeve shirt and pants
  • Footwear (preferably long acid-proof rubber gumboots)

Put some protective clothing on, such as a waterproof jacket, long pants, and shoes. Put some acid-resistant rubber gloves on and wear some safety glasses to protect your eyes before going near the muriatic spill.

Getting acid on your skin and eyes is no joke. You also want to avoid swallowing the acid or inhaling too much of the fumes.

3. Apply the Neutralizer

Pour or sprinkle your choice of neutralizing substance around and over the muriatic acid spill. Do this slowly starting from the outside of the spill and working your way in.

Don’t throw or drop large handfuls on the spill. Instead, add a thin layer and take a step back for a few seconds before continuing.

4. Confirm the Acid is Neutralized

You should wait for visual confirmation that the acid is neutralized before starting the clean-up process. As you add your neutralizer, you’ll see a reaction take place.

If you are using baking soda or soda ash, you may notice the bubbling or fizzing begin to stop. If you are using lime or dolomite, you may see that a thick sludge has formed. That is when you know the muriatic acid has been neutralized.

Be patient with the process and allow the neutralizing to happen as it should.

How Long Does It Take To Neutralize Muriatic Acid?

It takes approximately 15 minutes for muriatic acid to neutralize once a neutralizing substance is added to it. Although it can vary due to the size of the spill and the neutralizer used.

How To Clean Up Muriatic Acid After Neutralizing

Once it has been neutralized, the solution is no longer an acid. As such, it’s safe to handle.

You can dispose of the neutralized muriatic acid by getting a hose and spraying the area with water and letting it run down the drain. Alternatively, you can sweep it up and dispose of it.

At this stage, we recommend you thoroughly clean the clothes and protective equipment you wore.

hose and spraying the area with water after neutralizing muriatic acid.
Hose and spray the area with water after neutralizing muriatic acid.

Related Reading: 5 Ways to Dispose of Muriatic Acid for Pool (Safely)

What Happens If You Get Muriatic Acid On Skin?

Muriatic acid will burn your skin, therefore it is to be treated as a serious issue. If you happen to get muriatic acid on your skin, you should wash the affected area with water for at least 15 minutes and then get medical attention immediately.

Inhaling the fumes produced by the acid can be even more harmful. Coughing, choking, chest tightness, and a rapid heart beat are the least of the problem. In severe cases, people have needed to be treated for inflammation of the windpipe, coughing up blood, and damaged respiratory tracts.

6 Tips To Keep Safe When Handling Muriatic Acid

Here are some tips to keep in mind before using muriatic acid and to keep you safe while handling it.

  • Always pour acid into water. Never pour water into acid.
  • Always wear safety gear – it is a must.
  • Have a water source nearby in case you get it on your skin.
  • Keep children and animals at a distance when handling the acid to keep them protected from the acid.
  • Walk slowly when carrying the muriatic acid and take your time when using it.
  • Be informed about how hazardous muriatic acid can be so you are aware of the potential risks.

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