Please use eye protection (goggles) when adding Muratic Acid

holdup1time

Well-known member
Jun 15, 2019
76
Houston Texas
Wanted to post this as a safety flash for all that have to add Muratic Acid.

Recently, I had some eye irritation in my right eye...under my eyelid...was painful to close my eye lid which made sleeping very difficult.

After 2 weeks, couldn't take it anymore and went to eye Dr.

She said there was no foreign object in my eye but the underside of my eyelid was showing signs that my eye had been very irritated by something.

She asked what work I do. I told her I work in a chemical plant. She asked do I always wear eye protection when I work with chemicals at work. I said yes.

Then I snapped to it...it was probably a reaction to the Muratic Acid vapors. (wasn't using eye protection at home like a dummy)

When adding MA, I was opening the cap, body position was always upwind, and then I'd stand back and let it "air out" a bit before coming in close to pour into pool.

My backyard always has a good breeze so never had any issue breathing the vapors.

However, one day I was in a hurry and didn't notice my wind direction which is normally a south wind, was more of an east wind.

That day, I do remember breathing the vapors and my skin getting real itchy on my arms. I knew it was from the MA.

I never put 2 and 2 together but the eye irritation was caused by the MA vapors...I have no doubt about it now. Worked in chemical plant for 14 years and never had a problem.

I got "too comfortable" at home and didn't wear goggles when using MA. I do so now every time. The 2 weeks getting terrible sleep and feeling pain every time I blinked was very frustrating.

The Dr prescribed me some kind of eye drops and after about one week, my eye returned to good.

So, please, use some goggles to protect your eyes...we only get 2 eyes...just wanted to share this with the board so people would know what is possible from those MA vapors.
 

duraleigh

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Everyone should take whatever precautions they feel makes them safe. For me, that is just plain common sense.

Muriatic acid (to me) is not the grim reaper it is sometimes made out to be. I stay upwind from the fumes and handle the jug as little as possible by lowering it into the water and tilting it so the application is splashless.

If you inhale the fumes by carelessness, you are quickly reminded it is a product commanding respect. If you somehow manage to spill any, you should be kneeling by the pool so you can simply roll into the water if need be. Unless the exposure is absolutely unreasonable, I am not aware the fumes cause long term eye irritation or itchy skin.

I will always remember a post several years ago wherein a member was so worried about MA he wrapped himself in protective clothing and a face mask and, probably because he was wrapped like he was on a lunar expedition, promptly spilled some acid. The fumes somehow got inside his face mask and stayed trapped there. I guess he had a hard time getting "undressed" and some skin irritation resulted.
 
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Donldson

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Jun 12, 2009
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I will always remember a post several years ago wherein a member was so worried about MA he wrapped himself in protective clothing and a face mask and, probably because he was wrapped like he was on a lunar expedition, promptly spilled some acid. The fumes somehow got inside his face mask and stayed trapped there. I guess he had a hard time getting "undressed" and some skin irritation resulted.
Not only did it make it worse, it likely contributed to the problem in the first place. There's a theory called "Risk Compensation" which says that people adjust their behavior based on implied risk. So when someone feels they are safer around MA they act less safely. While us daredevils pouring acid in our shorts and holding our breath will carefully dose MA, he was not so careful because he incorrectly felt his setup was safe. Wearing goggles might help, if they are properly sealed, but they will also lead to a false sense of security. Your senses let you know something is wrong long before the concentrations are dangerous, removing those senses removes that warning.

MA is frankly very middle-of-the-road as far as dangers go with pool chemicals. DE dust, trichlor fumes, dichlor fumes, all more irritating. And people have literally died from mixing cal-hypo and trichlor. Kind of puts MA fumes in perspective.

On a personal note I disagree with the doctor. MA fumes are very unpleasant, acute eye irritation would have been evident immediately. I have doubts that a brief exposure would not have caused eyes to sting but cause an eyelid issue that lasts two weeks.
 
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holdup1time

Well-known member
Jun 15, 2019
76
Houston Texas
Kind of surprised by the responses guys. First the skin irritation was not long term...it was immediate and then as soon as I put water on my forearms it went away. That was without a doubt a direct effect from the MA vapors. The very first question the doctor asked me after examining my eye was, "Have you been exposed to chemicals?". I don't know exactly when my eye started becoming irritated...it was not immediately the minute I was exposed...so kind of hard not to believe the eye doctor...she does that all day, everyday, for a living...just like it's unwise to not take the advice on this forum from the people who are experts in pool chemistry. Every body reacts differently to different chemicals...I work around caustic that is 13 Ph...for some people, just being around the vapors from a sample container being open causes their skin to become irritated...some it doesn't have any effect....my point is there is no way to say x chemical for sure does this or does not do this....sure there are some given facts for certain chemicals and how they will affect your well being.

One thing we can't control are wind gusts....on a windy day, wind can change direction very quickly. I too stay upwind when using MA....but that doesn't mean the wind can't gust and change direction in my face all of a sudden. I'll keep wearing my eye goggles as I don't want to go through that again. It takes 3 seconds to put my goggles on but it was 2 weeks of agony. We can agree to disagree but I have no doubt the MA is what caused the eye irritation. I know that was the only time I was exposed to something directly in my face and the eye doctor thought it was from chemical exposure.

Goggles are not removing any senses...they are protecting my eyes...the senses for me are my skin feeling itchy and the smell....so not accurate to say I'm removing senses.
 

ajw22

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Jul 21, 2013
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I walk with the capped MA bottle to the edge of the pool. Holding the bottle over the water I unscrew the cap and pour it right into the water. I never come near the acid or fumes as it is an arms length away and down from my face.
 
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duraleigh

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holdup1time,

You should take the precautions that make you most comfortable. My reason for taking some exception to your thoughts is the newbies get scared to death of muriatic acid. It is ALWAYS the best way to manage pH in your pool but some new members become reluctant to use it because it sounds so scary......that should not be the takeaway.
 

tstex

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Aug 28, 2012
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Houston, TX
Holduptime, here's where you went wrong:

"However, one day I was in a hurry and didn't notice my wind direction which is normally a south wind, was more of an east wind."

As Dave said, people calibrate their safety procedures to what they feel they need to do. I don't "hurry" when adding MA, just like I don't hurry when removing a sharp knife from its leather sheath or hurry removing a loaded rifle from a hunting blind.

I've added MA for 5 yrs now and never had any spill on me, but a few times the vapors have made it my way with wind shifts, but I just stop inhaling and turned my head. Over 99% of the time, I note the wind direction, take off the cap close to the water w my arms extended downwind and simply pour and walk slowly upwind. That's it. Since you had a small incident, you wanted to warn people and I can appreciate that - just don't be in a hurry, unless it's for something like brushing your teeth.
 

tim5055

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May 11, 2014
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holdup1time, Thanks for the safety reminder. We can never bee too safe when working around caustic chemicals.

While I have never been injured, I do have a collection of clothes that have been lets say "personalized" by splashes from chemicals.

My advice about adding acid is this:

Wear old clothes and eye protection.

I like to get in front of a return on my hands & knees and splash a little water on the pool deck. Then open the acid bottle and partially submerge it in the water.

Tilt the bottle to pour the acid in at close to water level, but don't let the bottle get submerged. I don't measure because it's an additional step for me to spill the stuff.

Remove the bottle from the water and set it down in the puddle on the pool deck while you replace the cap. Try not to breathe the fumes..

Guess a little low on amount you need, then test again after it circulates well. You can always add more.
We don't want people to be afraid of using acid, just respect it.
 
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holdup1time

Well-known member
Jun 15, 2019
76
Houston Texas
Holduptime, here's where you went wrong:

"However, one day I was in a hurry and didn't notice my wind direction which is normally a south wind, was more of an east wind."

As Dave said, people calibrate their safety procedures to what they feel they need to do. I don't "hurry" when adding MA, just like I don't hurry when removing a sharp knife from its leather sheath or hurry removing a loaded rifle from a hunting blind.

I've added MA for 5 yrs now and never had any spill on me, but a few times the vapors have made it my way with wind shifts, but I just stop inhaling and turned my head. Over 99% of the time, I note the wind direction, take off the cap close to the water w my arms extended downwind and simply pour and walk slowly upwind. That's it. Since you had a small incident, you wanted to warn people and I can appreciate that - just don't be in a hurry, unless it's for something like brushing your teeth.
Agreed...admittingly it was my mistake for not taking notice of the wind direction....which I stated I normally do...by staying upwind of the bottle.

I agree with the replies about how people take care in handling the acid...as I do as well. We just can't assume that the wind is always constant and could switch with gusts and instead of upwind, now you're downwind.

My post was not to discourage people from using MA but to highlight what I feel is an important safety issue.

The takeaway should be, in my opinion, that MA is hazardous and should be taken seriously...including proper safety precautions to keep yourself safe.

Never did I say it should not be used....all I wanted to do was highlight what I feel is a safety concern and to warn others...what others do is their own business...I just could not in good conscious not post this...If my post even just makes people re think the way they add/handle MA for a few minutes, it's worth it.

I work in a chemical business so nobody had to tell me to stay upwind, open the bottle and let the fumes dissipate, etc....newbies may not have any idea of those concepts.

I appreciate everybody's replies....even if we all don't agree, that's ok...just having this conversation in this post will hopefully help someone handle MA a bit safer than they were before.
 

gx22

Active member
Jan 21, 2014
43
CA
The 14% acid doesn't smell bad at all compare to the 31% I used before which had lots of fumes. I think the 14% is much safer to use than the 31%.
 

FlaPoolGuy

Gold Supporter
Oct 5, 2019
80
Florida
I wear blue PVC gloves, forearm length. I used to wear impact safety goggles, but I recently upgraded to splash resistant goggles. And I have a spray bottle of water with baking sofa nearby to neutralize any splashes.

That being said I'm usually pouring it while wearing shorts, a t shirt and flip flops!
 

HeyEng

Silver Supporter
Nov 7, 2018
434
Oklahoma City, OK
I could be wrong but I'd bet the percent of people on this forum that put on goggles before dispensing MA can be counted on 1 finger.
I do, along with wearing crazy long gloves when I handle it. I value my eyes and I have ZERO desire to get that Crud in them. Plenty of wind in Oklahoma, so the risk is higher than some less windy places.
 
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Rocket J Squirrel

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Jun 7, 2018
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Alamo, CA
I don’t take any special precautions when pouring MA. I’ve ruined plenty of clothes pouring LC, but never had any damage from MA. I’m simply careful.

That said, I think we call it “muriatic“ rather than “hydrochloric” to make it sound less dangerous. Muriatic is exactly as hazardous as hydrochloric. :)
 

duraleigh

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Is dry acid so bad?
No, not "so" bad but not a first choice because it's continued use (say if you had to add acid weekly) results in the build up of sulfates (sulfites?).......an unwanted side affect that muriatic doesn't have.
 
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