• Background on Ben



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Manhattan Reefs
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Houston, TX
So this can be a dangerous subject, playing with acid. First off, if you are "playing" with it, STOP! We are all adults here so I don't need to tell you that acid is dangerous AF. Muriatic acid is just another name for diluted hydrochloric acid...swimming pool acid. It's easily found in the outdoor section for pool chemicals at Lowe's, Home Depot, or other hardware stores that are in your neck of the woods. I prefer it for cleaning hard water stains and coralline algae off of equipment vs. vinegar or citric acid. When I am out and about cleaning aquariums, I need things done quickly and can't wait for hours. One huge caveat about using it though, you have to give it some respect. The best way to use it is in a 10:1 ratio water to acid, so 10%. Here is another important reminder; mix acid into water and never the other way around. Acid into water. Never water into acid. Think about it this way, you are trying to dilute the acid so if you are mixing acid and water together, you want this chemical reaction to start off as dilute as possible from the jump. If you started with acid and began pouring water into it, the ratio of water to acid starts high and goes towards dilution as you pour the rest in. This can cause a reaction where the solution can spontaneously splatter everywhere. Also think of it like mixing salt with RO/DI water. You mix synthetic salt INTO the water and not pour water ONTO a pile of salt, at least I hope you aren't.

Now lets talk about personal protection equipment, PPE. You might think, "I'll just use it real quick and be careful." ... It's not worth it. It's not worth destroying your eyesight, burning your lungs by inhaling the vapors, or burning your skin. You definitely need protective eye wear and also a respirator is a good idea if you are using a fair amount of it. I used it once to acid etch an 8'x6' concrete fountain before painting it with a rubberized coating (Pond Armor). Since it was going to be carefully splashed and scrubbed all over the concrete, I bought a face shield and respirator as well as thick PVC gloves. Perhaps it was a bit overkill but no job is worth your health. The stuff was cheap on Amazon anyways. Important distinction here on the respirator; most of them come with VOC cartridges. VOCs are volatile organic compounds, not acids. You have to either buy the respirator that comes with acid cartridges or buy the cartridges separately.

The above is what I got but made sure to buy the specific acid cartridges for it.

The above is cool looking but needlessly expensive unless you are around harmful chemicals for a living, in which case I don't envy you. It would be great for walking around the airport in or at work parties.

But I mean, let's be honest here, you don't really need to dress up like a corona virus worker in China in a full HAZMAT get up but at the VERY LEAST, use eye protection and make the 10% solution outside in a well ventilated place. If vapors rise up, move away from them.

Now that I've scared the crap out of you, you might be thinking, "Dude, with the **** would I use this stuff? Sounds like a pain in the *******." but it works quickly and well. JUST BE CAREFUL FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE...or Valhalla's sake or whatever afterlife destination you think you are going to.

Oh...guess what. It is also great for killing majano pest anemones or out of control zoanthid polyps. Put some 10% into a hyodermic needle and inject them with a few MLs. DO NOT do this with Aptasia as they will just end up spreading everywhere else eventually. Not so with majano. Sometimes it wont outright kill majano but they will retract and start to let go with their "foot". Then you can easily remove them with a dental pic. What works great for aptasia is turning pumps off and putting fresh kalkwasser paste on them for about 30 mins and then siphoning the whole mess away. With the whole diluted acid in a hypodermic needle situation, just do a few per day and keep an eye on your alkalinity and pH. You don't want to use so much that you are messing with either of those so proceed with caution AND ONLY USE 10% FOR THAT.

Not too long ago I had to use full strength muriatic on a UV sterilizer quartz tube that was covered in mineral scale. I did it outside and with prevailing winds at my back. I had on eye protection and was being very careful. It worked great because the scale was so bad that it wasn't budging, even with a soak in 10%.

If you have the luxury of letting something soak overnight, vinegar or citric acid isn't a bad idea but be aware of something. Supposedly vinegar is not good in situations where plastic is encasing a magnetic. Apparently vinegar can permeate the plastic (or certain types of plastic?) and cause the magnetic to swell, at least according to this thread:

As with this and any other thing I write, maybe I got something wrong. Let me know if you know better. I won't be upset, of course. We are all here to learn so correct away if I have incorrectly spoken on something. Above all else, just be safe around dangerous chemicals or else I will come visit you in the hospital and say "I told you so!".