Safe transportation of hydrochloric acid?

I have some very old bottles of muriatic/hydrochloric acid that I need to get to the dump. I was planning to pack them in a cardboard box with paper packed around them to keep them from toppling over. Is this a good plan? Is there anything I need to be worried about?

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Vyger2 years ago

My well water is so alkali that it would probably neutralize the acid all by itself. If it was me I would just add it to my garden as it would help it a lot.

You are already putting acid down the toilet because that is usually what bowel cleaner is. Most likely what you have is pretty dilute since the really concentrated stuff is not that common. The toilet bowel cleaner I use is 27% and I can buy it off the shelf at the hardware store. It does wonders at cleaning rust deposits off of things, including sprinklers but it will also turn nylon carpet into a liquid soup. Unless you have a really large amount disposing of it yourself should not be a problem.

When I had a fish tank I used to have to add sulpheric acid to the water to make it PH neutral. I used a large syringe and squirted (injected) it into the water. It took a lot to get 10 gallons of water to be neutral.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  Vyger2 years ago

Thanks Vyger. I still haven't looked at the bottles again to see if it says what the strength is. But you're right, it probably isn't that strong. I went and read a few articles about uses for Muriatic Acid and it kind of jogged my memory. I realized that the safety info I read that got me worried doesn't really apply.

At the moment my toilet bowl could do with a little extra cleaning, but I don't use bowl cleaner most of the time. (bowel cleaner is a different matter best not discussed here ;-)

I think you could save a trip to the dump by just pouring the acid out into the dirt, somewhere in your back yard.

I am guessing you have a back yard, since your profile blurb says you have one.

If your back yard has a garden hose, you could use tap water from the garden hose to wash out any remaining acid in the bottles. Then dump that water in the same spot where you dumped the acid.

I mean that's if you're worried about the soil in that one spot in your back yard becoming too acidified. You know, you could run the hose on it for a little while to dilute, and wash out, that one spot. Where I live, a little acid would probably improve the soil.

I also have some advice regarding dumps, and the people who work there. I don't want to dump on the people who work at the dump. I'm not saying they're stupid, but you really don't want to present these people with any challenges they're not prepared for.

Whatever their "skill level", I'm pretty sure they'd be more comfortable with empty bottles, something they see everyday, and less comfortable with bottles filled with strong mineral acid.

By the way, the usual response of dump employees to some garbage they truly don't know what to do with, is to simply refuse to take it. He or she will say, "We can't take that. You'll have to take that somewhere else. Where? I don't know, but you can't bring it here."

Then your mission to dispose of the acid has failed, and to add insult to injury, you've just lost a battle of wits with a sanitation specialist. Then you have to take your acid home and pour in the dirt in your back yard somewhere... which is probably what you should have done in the first place.


ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  Jack A Lopez2 years ago

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question.

I know exactly what you mean about the sanitation engineers. We have our share of issues with them here. But I was planning to go to the hazardous waste depot, which is at the dump, but a separate facility specifically for things they don't take with the regular waste. So in other words, they will probably still give me a hassle, but in the end they will accept it, grudgingly.

I have to make the trip to the depot anyway with some other stuff that we need to get rid of. It was just that I was concerned about the safety of transporting the acid. pouring it out in the backyard is slightly illegal, but I will take it under consideration, though last time I checked the acidity level of the soil was just right.... that was in my garden. Some of the other plants/trees might like a bit more.

Kiteman2 years ago

Just dilute the acid with plenty of water (remember, acid into water) and pour it down any drain that runs to sewers rather than a septic tank. Rinse out the bottles and they can go in your ordinary recycling system.

Do the bottles say how strong the acid is?

If it's not too concentrated, you can just pour it down the toilet and flush regularly. Wear eye protection, because toilet flushes can splash surprising distances.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  Kiteman2 years ago

Thanks Kiteman.

I couldn't see anything on the bottles saying how strong it is, but I haven't actually touched them yet. I didn't have any gloves and they are very dusty and dirty.

iceng2 years ago

Muriatic = low purity window cleaning HCl acid applied with a sponge wearing rubber gloves and gets disposed in the drain using Steves limestone chippings or baking soda, to neutralize it. I use the toilet as a drain because it is non-metal and reminds me of chem class drains.

BTW Never Never pour water into acid..... Always pour acid into water.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  iceng2 years ago

That makes sense. It's how my father would have done it, minus the neutralizing step which he would probably say was a bunch of bull.

When you Google muriatic acid it automatically comes up hydrochloric acid, which led me the safety data that Josehf posted the link to, which makes it sound much more dangerous. I didn't think it could really be that bad, but it's hard to know when you have no experience, and I wanted to make sure I'm being safe and responsible. Thanks for the info.

Transportation specks are here.

You may need a Hazmat licence to transport it over a certain amount and on certain roadways.

Thanks for posting the link Josehf. I read it over again for a refresher. That was what confused me in the first place, because dad used it all the time and never took any kind of precautions that I know of. The whole house used to reek of it when I was a kid. But, that was dad.

I should have been more clear that I am talking about a small quantity, 2 or 3 bottles, I think about one litre each. We just have to drive a few blocks to the city dump, so I think we will be okay as long as they don't leak. It's that bit about how it can become an explosion hazard that made me nervous.

You did not mention the amount but in some cases the amount doesn't matter, water safety zones do not allow any amount. It is a pain but asking the local authorities they will answer.

Thank you again Josehf. It is always better to be safe than sorry, which is why I wanted to get some opinions from others.

Isn't that similar to the rules here in AU?
I mean, here it only applies for commercial quantities - for which you need a license to have them anyways.
Depending on the concentration there are no limits for private persons.

For example the standard 30% from the homedepot can be transported in your car in all quantities that fit.
I don't agree with those rules for obvious reasons ;)
Asked at a local store if they have any advice on how to get two 20L kanisters home safely.
Short answer: Put them in the boot and keep them upright.
Most councils here offer a pickup of bigger quantities on the usual collection days - might be worth to check.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  Downunder35m2 years ago

"Put them in the boot and keep them upright." LOL I figured that much out on my own. Although I was considering putting it inbwtween the seats in the back of the van, to keep it from sliding.

Unfortunately, no curbside collection of hazardous waste here. We have to take it to the depot ourselves, which is only open on Saturday, between 9 am and 4 pm. Missed this Saturday, so I'm stuck with them, and a few other assorted goodies, for another week.

You are right that I am not talking about a large quantity here. It's probably only about 2 or 3 litres. It is labeled "commercial", but I'm sure it's just from the local hardware store, unless dad stole it from work (which is quite possible).

In that cas just put the container into a big plastic bucket, preferable with a lid.
Usually nothing at all happens but if you just put the canister in the car with nothing protecting it you might end up with holes in the carpet.
As long as your canister is still ok and can be properly closed there shuld be no issues transporting it in a bucket or similar.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  Downunder35m2 years ago

Thanks again.

I looked again this morning and realized the bottles at the back of the shelf are different, so there aren't as many as I thought there were when I posted the question. But I'm not finished cleaning that workshop out yet, and there is still the other workshop and the garage, and no telling what I will find there... It's a miracle dad made it to 82 yrs. And that he never managed to blow the house up.

iceng2 years ago

I would carefully pour the acid into lots of water.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  iceng2 years ago

So, you're saying fill a container with water and then pour the acid in, then take it to the hazardous waste depot?

I'd load the water with limestone chippings, and neutralise it.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  steveastrouk2 years ago

I'm not sure if they would take it that way at the depot though. It has to be properly labeled and identified. And I am not going to try disposing of it myself. It's too far beyond my experience to take the chance. Thanks for the advice, I will file it for future reference.

What you have left can be poured straight down the drain, minus the chippings. It is non reactive, and less dangerous than bleach once its neutralised.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  steveastrouk2 years ago

Ah, that's good to know. Thank you. As you can tell, I'm fairly clueless about this stuff. If it's potentially dangerous, and I don't understand it, I don't touch it as a general rule. (And it's a good rule when you have ADHD. I can do enough damage without the use of toxic chemicals. Beleive me.)

I would say it depends on the amount and concentration you have.
For obvious reasons you want to keep them upright.
These big plastic storagr containers are a good thing - they can handle the acid and act as a basin in case something des go wrong.
Diluting and flushing down is the wrost idea in this case.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)  Downunder35m2 years ago

Thanks Downunder35m. That was what I was thinking too. I was planing to line the cardboard box with plastic, but now that you mention it I have a small plastic storage container with a lid that would be better. I was just going to use the box because I want to keep them in the smallest container possible, to minimize the chance of them falling over.