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Disposal or Recycling of Hydrochloric Acid

An ongoing discussion from 1999 through 2016 . . .


Q. Is there a way to recycle muriatic acid (hydrochloric) used in the stripping of hexavalent chromium? I have heard many people tell of different ways to dispose of it. could you explain to me why it couldn't just be neutralized and put down the drain? NOT THAT I WOULD! Thank you, Jeff

Jeff Mattocks
- Pennsylvania


A. Basically, neutralizing it would correct the pH of the acid to an acceptable range, so that the acid would not cause undue corrosion to the sewer pipes, but would leave toxic hexavalent chromium in the waste if there was any to start with. What needs to be done is to reduce any hexavalent chromium to trivalent state, so that it is precipitable, then adjust the pH so it precipitates out, then filter it so the water can be discharged. The chromium-bearing solids would still need to be disposed of in a secure landfill.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. I would add a small amount of ferrous sulfate (about 5 lbs. per 1000 gallons) to reduce the chromium to the trivalent form, then adjust the pH to 8.5 - 9 with hydrated lime [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Lime should be added slowly with lots of stirring. Then add an anionic polymer to settle the solids. Make sure to have the water phase tested for total chromium before discharging it. It may be that you can extend the life of the stripping solution by running it through a column of weakly basic anion exchange resin, to remove the hexavalent chromium. This would have to be regenerated periodically with sodium chloride solution.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York


A. Another way that my former peers did not mention is to use columns to catch the Chromium (Cationic type I believe ) and to clean the Hydrochloric Acid. Then you can use the stripping solution with small HCl addition. Please consult with your local Environmental company or experts. Yours,

yehuda blau
Yehuda Blau
YB Plating Engineering and Quality - Haifa Israel

Disposal of unused muriatic acid


Q. I do have a background in metal fabrication, but I have a small stock of Muriatic Acid [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] from concrete work in trade. The local landfill resists receiving hazardous elements except on a certain date per year. I want to rid myself of this before locating back to Maine, where I last had use of it. My speculative need of it in the future is too lame to justify keeping the hazard in store. This is uncontaminated product. Is there a simple way to reduce it to a neutral condition? I appreciate your consideration and reply.

James William Rayne
hobbyist - Newark, Delaware, USA


A. Hi James,

Seeing that no Guru had replied, how about having a gander in the archives at letter #12044. Surely there are some useful hints there ... even more if you are (heaven forbid) a dog lover.

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to
advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


A. James, when I want to get rid of hydrochloric acid, I mix it with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) a.k.a caustic soda, until it is neutralized. HCl + NaOH gives NaCl and water.

Geez, I hope I don't have to emphasize that you should be careful, and to make sure that it's completely neutral (pH 7). I presume you know the strength of the muriatic acid, so it should be simple to calculate the amount of caustic soda you need. If you've any doubt, bring a pizza into your local high school chemistry class and let them calculate it for you.

Good luck! And remember, no one at finishing dot com advocates non-adherence to environmental laws!

lee gearhart
Lee Gearhart


A. Hi there,

As above but caustic soda is a little too violent in the reaction and somewhat expensive. Try some Calcium Hydroxide I think its also sold in the plastering trade as slaked lime, it's an alkaline. Dilute your acid and in a large 200 Liter plastic drum feed the calcium hydroxide (Slowly) Stir and check using litmus paper to gauge when when it's neutralized. This time you end up with Calcium Chloride. and water.

Robert Fyfe
Audio Eng. - Wyoming, NSW, Australia


thumbsup2Thank you, Lee, yes, I'll hold to my best on the environment. Pizza's great, and I throw the dough, so maybe that's an angle.

Freeman, I'm replying with thanks prior to following your directions back into archives. The car looks great! Robert, you've given me the journeyman's answer, and you nailed my back-off (some experience) from caustic soda. I can get the stuff and already have a drum. If you know (or anybody) whether the resulting calcium chloride is ALSO a problem, please reply.

Thank you, all!

James William Rayne
hobby/home improvements - Newark, Delaware, USA


A. I recall that the company I retired from a while back had about 1000 gallons of conc. sulfuric leak into a concrete containment pit. A local environmental services company came in and removed it for shipment to an "acid reclaimer" I believe somewhere there, in Delaware area, possibly at Dupont? We would use soda ash routinely to neutralize small drips of either sulfuric or nitric acid, by the way. Fumes were bad, but tolerable, when ventilation was adequate.

W. Carl Erickson
- Vernon, New York


A. Dear James,

Calcium Chloride, like many Calcium Salts are insoluble in water. Our bones for example are mainly Calcium Phosphate. In the reaction converting your unwanted Hydrochloric Acid to Calcium Chloride, dilute the acid first otherwise it may splutter, remember that they use Hydrochloric, or when tainted with Iron, then sold as muriatic for cleaning cement off new brickwork, the product is Calcium Chloride and lesser amounts of other things (Silicates) and on construction sites doesn't this normally flow straight down the drain or into ground water. Check with your local E.P.A on acceptable disposal methods. Then again if you dried out the Calcium Chloride (Anhydrous) it makes a great desiccant (Water Absorber) but it is an Irritant...When it's this dry...gets up your nose, arh-choo.

Robert Fyfe
Audio Eng. - Gosford, NSW, Australia

April 13, 2011

A. If this acid is new, uncontaminated then why destroy it? Maybe you can find someone who can use it? There is a group of Yahoo mailing lists called FreeCycle where people go to give things away they don't want but might still be useful. Or there's CraigsList. I've gotten rid of quite a few things that way. It's nice when somebody shows up, takes the unwanted item away in THEIR car at YOUR convenience and is even grateful to do so!

I came across your post looking for information about using Muriatic acid for PCB etching. I live too far away to consider taking it but for that use I think just about any Hackerspace would love to have it and be very appreciative. I checked the Hackerspace wiki though and the only one I found for Newark was a group of people interested in starting one. You could try contacting them but their website and twitter links don't actually work so I don't know if their email contact is any better or not. I don't know what other cities are near Newark to check them too.

Good luck!

Leif Burrow
- Toledo, Ohio, USA

September 6, 2012

A. Muriatic acid is used in many, many applications. If I were in your area, I would take the stuff from you for nothing ...then I would put it into my swimming pool as I do on an almost weekly basis for pH adjustment.

Find a neighbor or pool company and offer it to them. I use about three gallons/month. Ironically, I also purchase about 2,500 gallons a month at my job, which becomes contaminated and has to be disposed of properly.

Hope this answer came soon enough.

David Jaye
- Houston, Texas, USA

Need HCl recovery system for galvanizing tub


RFQ: Dear Sir/Madam:

We would be more than grateful to get your help in quoting a recycling system for our galvanization tub.

The quality of waste is:
Fe (+2) 14.11%
Fe (+3 ) 3.6%
Zn 4.1%
PO4( -3) 0.3%
HCl (normalized) 4.3%

Quantity : 60 tons/month.

Please let us know as soon as possible what is the best method to recycle.

With kind regards,

pipe manufacturing and galvanization - Ramla, Israel
^- Sorry, this RFQ is outdated
     View Current RFQs

sidebar2 July 12, 2012

Q. I am a student and I have a project on Disposal of Calcium Chloride.
What are the industrial ways to dispose the waste calcium chloride.

Narendra [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Gujarat, India

September 10, 2012

A. Narendra, I have no idea if this is legal in your country. but you can mix it into concrete and make stepping stones out of it. Mixing it into epoxy is an alternative, but it costs a lot more.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

Recycling/recovery of HCl

January 17, 2015

Q. Hi Friend,
I'd like to know is there any process where HCl from pickling stream can be recycled? At present we are using 15-20% strength HCl; after a few cycles (within 2-3 days) the strength of acid will be 5-8%. We want to regenerate this acid. Please suggest.

electroplating - pune India

January 19, 2015

A. There are two commonly used technologies to purify and re-use HCl: Diffusion Dialysis and Acid Retardation. Neither actually regenerates the acid, the acid used in dissolving metal and lost due to dilution is not recovered, and must be replenished. There is good information on both these technologies that is readily available on the internet.

Lyle Kirman
consultant - Cleveland, Ohio

January 12, 2016

A. Mr. Kirman offers sage advice, as usual. If you are choosing to dispose, calcium hydroxide is best. It leaves CaCl2 in the effluent. Won't upset many applecarts.

Trying to reclaim? You can get back some of the acid via acid retardation tech. Big time investment in equipment, sorry to say; it will pay off in the long run.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York

January 2, 2016

I am very confused about the disposal of a large amount of HCl. You have mentioned before the operation which we can dispose small amount for laboratory use, but what about the massive and huge amount of HCl?
How can we manage and dispose of it?

M.Osman ahmed
- dusiburg, germany

January 2016

thumbsup2Hi cousin. Not to argue the semantics of whether your question is "abstract" :-) ...

... but we don't know what industry or sector you come from (plating shop, college laboratory, sidewalk contractor, waste hauler, etc.), and that can be crucial in knowing what laws apply. For example, a homeowner in the USA probably has the freedom to neutralize and dispose of personal waste, but a plating shop cannot legally dispose of their waste except under a permitting process. And neutralizing the acid may not be the heart of solving the environmental problem, as the first question about acid with chromium contamination discussed ... thus the question remains of what is the source of this enormous amount of HCl?

Further, neutralization and disposal is generally not the right answer for disposal of huge amounts of waste, as the question about regeneration of pickling acid from galvanizing mentions.

A. Neutralization with slaked lime or sodium hydroxide remains a feasible approach regardless of the volume of solution. Still, while disposal of small quantities may not justify the expense of research, the disposal of enormous quantities probably does. I would suggest retaining a specialist in acid handling and disposal to make a suggestion. Best of luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 2, 2016

Q. Dear Ted Mooney,
Thank you for your valuable feedback and information,
I am talking about more than 5 tons of HCl and TRI SODIUM PHOSPHATE in Africa, which comes from different industrial factories.
Is slaked lime like Calcium hydroxide and NaOH its the right solution or there is another way?
Thank you.

M.Osman ahmed [returning]
- dusiburg,germany

January 2016

A. Hi. Everything is relative, but 5 tons is not a massive and huge amount by some standards. It may be possible to neutralize a portion of the HCl with the waste tri-sodium phosphate, and then neutralize the rest of the HCl with slaked lime.

But the thing is, who can say what the applicable regulations are, if any, for some undisclosed place in the world's 2nd largest continent. And who can say what contaminants are in a witches' brew from different industrial factories? Any sort of poison could be in the waste: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, dioxin ...

That is not the correct way to approach the project. The first step is to do a survey of the sources for what to expect in the waste; step two is to do as assay to confirm that the survey was accurate; step three is to do bench tests on very small samples of the waste to neutralize and de-toxify it; step four is to test the effluent to see if it will be suitable for discharge after treatment, and to determine what if anything must be done with the precipitated solids. After all those preliminary steps you can determine whether slaked lime treatment was a viable answer. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 9, 2016 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hello, hopefully someone may be able to help me out in this situation. I work at a waste treatment facility, and I received a waste stream of HCl used in pickling. When we raise the pH in the lab > 9.0 to try and precipitate the metals from the waste, there appears to be Ammonia in the range of 600 ppm generated from the waste stream. Does anyone know how this is possible? Do you think the waste contains some Amines and/or Nitric Acid? Thanks!

Rico Cordura
- Santa Fe Springs, California, USA

September 2016
Times Beach, MO

A. Hi Rico. I personally don't feel that it is the right approach in most cases to accept a waste for treatment if you're not confident of and familiar with the source. You don't want to become another Times Beach :-)

Step 1 is to find out what this waste material was used for and why it has an unexpected material in it. Perhaps it's a waste pickling solution from a galvanizing shop which uses an ammonium chloride flux?


pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 13, 2016

A. Neutralize with Mg(OH)2 to a pH of about 8.5. Add a sulfur based precipitant to drop metals. Add a bit of aluminum sulfate, then floc out with an anionic polymer.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York

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