Should You Use Muriatic Acid For A Toilet Clog?

Should You Use Muriatic Acid For A Toilet Clog

A clogged toilet is a real pain, causing a huge inconvenience, a big stink, and potentially a giant mess. Various ways exist for tackling toilet clogs, many of which feature safe household products. But what do you do when a clog is so severe it just won’t budge?

You can call a plumber for difficult clogs, and they’ll sometimes use muriatic acid to unclog the toilet. Muriatic acid is in several toilet cleaning products, but when undiluted, it can be extremely hazardous. Sure, it will likely unclog your toilet, but it can cause significant problems too if you’re not careful.

We get it; when you’re dealing with a toilet clog, you want it fixed ASAP. But don’t jump into using potentially dangerous solutions before you know the details.

What Is Muriatic Acid?

Muriatic acid is a form of hydrochloric acid with a typical pH of between 1 and 2, although there isn’t a standard. Hydrochloric acid consists of hydrogen chloride(HCl), water, and various other chemicals. You might typically notice a yellowish tint to muriatic acid, due to impurities like iron in the acid.

The intensity of muriatic acid depends highly on the concentration of HCl within it. Plus, as you add more water to muriatic acid, it becomes more diluted, reducing its acidic properties.

Muriatic acid is in many household cleaners, pool chemicals, and industrial cleaning products. However, it is highly corrosive in its pure form and can pose potential risks, and should be handled by a professional.

What Commercial Toilet Products Include Muriatic Acid?

As previously mentioned, muriatic acid is an ingredient in many household cleaners, especially toilet cleaning products. Here are just a few popular toilet cleaning products that contain muriatic (or hydrochloric) acid.

  • Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • Lime-A-Way Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • Genuine Joe Acid Bowl Cleaner
  • Brillo Sno Bol Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Many drain cleaners also feature muriatic acid as a main component. Acidic drain cleaners will typically contain either sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid. Sulfuric acid is usually better at breaking down organic matter.

While these cleaners might be powerful at tackling heavy-duty clogs quickly, you need to use caution. Not only are working with these products potentially hazardous to your health, but they can also ruin certain pipes. You should avoid using acidic drain cleaners if you have older pipes, stainless steel, aluminum, chrome, or galvanized steel.

How To Unclog A Toilet With Muriatic Acid

If you’re determined to unclog your toilet using muriatic acid, use extreme caution. Plus, the recommendation is only to attempt using it as a last resort. Your better bet when all else has failed is to call in a plumber to do the job.

1. Use The Proper Safety Gear

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It’s imperative to don safety gloves, a face mask, and goggles to avoid inhaling fumes and burning your skin or eyes. Also, it’s advisable to wear long sleeves and pants so you can cover and protect as much skin as possible.

2. Make Sure The Bathroom Has Proper Ventilation

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Never work with dangerous or toxic chemicals in a closed-in space. Leave the doors open, open any windows and turn on the exhaust fan to ventilate the room adequately.

3. Dilute The Muriatic Acid

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You need to dilute the muriatic acid, and this act alone comes with its own risks. First, only add muriatic acid to water; never pour water into acid. Not only can this potentially cause a harmful reaction, but it can also cause the acid to splash up on you.

The toilet bowl should already have water in it, but it’s wise to flush it a couple of times first. You want to make sure any potential other substances are out of your pipes. Otherwise, the acid can come in contact with them and cause possible reactions.

Then, once the bowl refills, you can carefully pour the acid into the water in the bowl. Typically, the formula for diluting muriatic acid is 1 part acid to 10 parts water.

If you’re unsure of the amount of water in the toilet bowl, turn off the water supply and flush the toilet to empty the bowl. Then, measure a gallon of water in a bucket and pour it into the bowl.

Slowly pour about 1 ½  cup (or 12 ounces) of muriatic acid into the water in the bowl.

4. Flush The Toilet

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Then, turn the water supply back on if you have shut it off, wait for the tank to fill, and flush. Wait for about 10 to 15 minutes, and then flush again.

Make sure you don’t follow up with any other cleaners that could set off a chemical reaction. You might want to wait another 15 minutes or so and then flush again to ensure you rinse the acid from your pipes.

What Are The Risks Of Muriatic Acid?

You might be wondering, why should muriatic acid only be a last resort for unclogging a toilet? Well, it’s because it’s a dangerous chemical, and it could harm you, your pipes, and the environment.

Risks To Your Plumbing

Accidentally using other cleaners after using the muriatic acid could lead to issues with your pipes. It could cause plastic pipes to melt or your pipes to burst.

For example, muriatic acid reacts negatively to many commercial drain cleaners because they typically contain sodium hydroxide. The combination will lead to a chemical explosion.

Risks To Your Health

Improper mixing when you dilute the acid could leave you burned and blind. Inhaling muriatic acid, even short-term exposure, can lead to respiratory issues and eye and nasal irritation.

More severe issues like pulmonary edema can also be possible. If you start to experience any symptoms, get to fresh air at once and call for medical attention.

If you get muriatic acid in your eyes or on your skin, you can end up with severe burns and scars. You might also experience decreased vision or even blindness.

Flush your eyes out with water and rinse your skin immediately for at least 15 minutes. Do not rub your eyes or skin. If the acid gets on your clothes, remove the clothing immediately. Then, rinse the area of your skin that came in contact with the acid.

Where Do You Get Muriatic Acid?

You can usually find muriatic acid in home improvement stores in the masonry section or pool supply stores. Depending on what exactly you’re buying, you will likely need to show proof of age. For this reason, you also might not be able to purchase the product online from certain retailers.

Alternatives To Unclogging A Toilet

If you’re only dealing with a minor clog, you might want to first try some safer clog removal methods. You can attempt to unclog a toilet using various products like vinegar, baking soda, and even Coca-Cola. Of course, tools like a plunger and a plumber’s snake are also helpful.

Sometimes, a stubborn clog might require you to remove the toilet to access the drainpipe directly. But, if you ever find yourself up against a severe clog, sometimes it might be best to call a plumber.

Plumbers are used to working with various products, like muriatic acid, so you can avoid dealing with dangerous chemicals yourself. But, a professional will also likely be more apt to unclog the drain using various other methods as well, thanks to their expertise.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I clean stains in the toilet with muriatic acid?

Muriatic acid can potentially work well on toilet stains like rust and hard water stains. This quality is why it’s included in many toilet cleaning products. But, just as with dealing with toilet clogs, using muriatic acid should be your last resort.

It’s an extremely caustic substance that can end up causing more harm than good to you and your environment.

What else is muriatic acid used for?

Muriatic acid is used in many industrial applications, like making paper, plastic, and household cleaners. It is also used to clean concrete and masonry, clean pools, and reduce the alkalinity in pools. However, it should always be a last resort, and you need to exercise extreme caution if you decide to use it.