Update on cleaning 3 more toilets of brown streaks using HCl (pool acid)

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Just as I now always look at my friends' garage doors to see what they need help fixing, now I'm constantly looking for brown stains in my friends' toilets. :)
Here's one I found at one friend's house:

And, here's another, at a different house:

There were many new lessons learned though, mostly from being way too casual around the acid and therefore making a few mistakes by not being cautious enough.
For example, my hands are killing me, because I cupped the acid back and forth to cover the stains in an attempt to speed up the process:

Another lesson learned is to remove the baggie over the filler tube when you start refilling the toilet! I left the baggie on to get the phone, and when I came back, acid was all over the stone floor (making it slippery to the touch!).

Another lesson learned is that you can peel back the plastic wrap over the bowl to scrub the stains to move the process along quicker - but - you'll get one hell of a few good coughing fits out of being that close to the open bowl of acid. My chest is still hurting - like when you have bronchitis:

Yet another lesson learned is that some people are really picky when it comes to chemicals. This shot is at a friend's house, where I didn't bother with the funnel and just poured the acid directly down the tube. Of course, a lot went into the bowl - which smoked and fumed. Hours later, my friend swore she could still smell the acid (although I don't believe her):

Another lesson learned was that the plastic wrap actually works BETTER than does the rubber banded sandwich bag, especially when you remove it to pour more acid. The plastic wrap throws away more easily without keeping acid in all the folds:

Another good lesson was to not get cavalier about the acid. Here you see me pouring it directly on the scrub brush in the bowl. Problem was that droplets of acid started burning my bare skin within minutes - even though they didn't hurt at first.

In summary, the biggest thing I learned is that the damage from the acid doesn't hurt too badly at first - but it lingers on.
Also, I learned you can clean the bowl directly, but, you'll get a few whiffs in your lung - which you'll know when you get 'em as you'll start coughing away immediately.
The splashes on the bare skin only tingle and burn at first, but later little blisters will develop on your fingers. No big deal - but it would have been better had I taken the stuff more seriously.
Anyway, hope others benefit from the experience outlined here in pictures. If you have questions, ask away.
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clipped

indoors should try it out on some concrete, outdoors, first.
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On 4/28/2013 6:36 AM, Norminn wrote:

I see HCl azeotrope is 20%. This means that with more concentrated acid there would be much more propensity to fume giving off pure HCl fumes which are highly irritating to skin and respiratory tract. The HCl sold to clean toilets is about 15% and does not have this problem. If someone wants to save money by buying muriatic acid, they should cut it 50/50 with water before storage and use.
I once made the mistake of storing a closed bottle of muriatic acid in a metal cabinet. Even while closed, enough fumes got out of the plastic bottle to cause severe rusting of the cabinet.
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On Sun, 28 Apr 2013 08:47:47 -0400 Frank wrote:

I had to look up "azeotrope": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azeotrope
I'm not sure I understood, but I think your point was that the fumes of HCl are basically at the same strength as the acid itself.
I can tell you for a fact that I got a few good gulps of the stuff, and you can feel it in your chest - as your body instinctively closes up and doesn't let you even get a full breath - so you make little short ones as you need air.

The stuff we buy in the pool stores is usually either 28% or 14% by volume.
I wonder what percentage would be a good percentage to dilute down to for use for toilets?
Googling, I see this special "thickened" HCl prep at 9% http://www.betco.com/ChemicalProducts/RestroomCare/Pages/Heavy%20Duty%20Acid%20Cleaners.aspx?ProdDispGrp 8
But this prep seems pretty high in percentage at 23%: (presumably by volume): http://www.betco.com/ChemicalProducts/RestroomCare/Pages/Heavy%20Duty%20Acid%20Cleaners.aspx?ProdDispGrp 0
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On Sun, 28 Apr 2013 06:36:58 -0400 Norminn wrote:

I've used this 28% (note that it's double the normal strength) muriatic acid for a while, so, yes, I'm familiar with the bubbling and whitening that occurs when it spills on concrete.
I also washed my entire pool with the stuff, so, I'm very familiar with getting the fumes in my lungs, eyes, and splashing my skin.
Sometimes we all fall into the trap of getting too comfortable with dangerous chemicals - and I am no exception.
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On Sunday, April 28, 2013 2:50:43 AM UTC-6, Danny D. wrote:

After reading your posts, I have come to a conclusion...YOU ARE AN IDIOT. Anyone who has had ANY education would not put their hands in strong acid. Anyone who would inhale the fumes of a strong acid IS AN IDIOT. Anyone who would allow you to clean their toilet and screw up their toilet, bathroom and decor IS AN IDIOT.
A milder acid such as OXALIC ACID or FORMIC ACID would clean up those iron and calcium stains just as well without the extreme danger. Caution would still need to be exercised but the aforementioned acids are easier to work with.
===
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On Sun, 28 Apr 2013 12:01:47 -0700 Roy wrote:

:)

It's not too bad at first - but then it starts itching more much later.

It hurts more in the beginning - then it just becomes a dull ache, sort of what it's like when you get over the flu.

Applying baking soda pretty much prevented the stone from being visibly damaged.

Now you tell us! Where were you in the scores of prior conversations? :)
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On Sunday, April 28, 2013 2:51:54 PM UTC-6, Danny D. wrote:

A commercial product called IRON-OUT will work fine as well. The company puts out a number of other products as well. All of our grocery stores up here carry this product and most hardware stores as well. Just Google for it. I did mention that earlier in the month.
I have nothing against you personally, but I hate to see people taking avoidable risks with their health. Lung damage is not a minor thing.
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On Sun, 28 Apr 2013 15:15:10 -0700 Roy wrote:

Hmm... Oren is wholly right that the brown stuff isn't usually rust (and certainly was not in my case). It's what he delicately calls "kooties" ensconced within layers of limey deposits, such that you can turn them white with bleach, but you need acid to remove the layers under and above - which removes the kooties in the process.

http://www.summitbrands.com/summit/our_brands/rust_removal/
MSDS: http://www.summitbrands.com/summit/msds/ http://www.summitbrands.com/summit/downloads/msds/usa/MSDS%20Super%20Iron%20Out.pdf
Hmm... I wonder if the ORDER of the chemicals in the MSDS tells us something? ~5% Sodium carbonate (3-7%) ~25% Sodium hydrosulfite (15-40%) ~25% Sodium metabisulfite (15-40%) ~2.5% Citric acid (1-5%) ~1% Sodium sulfite (0.5-1.5%) ~0.5% Sodium bisulfite (0.-1%)

Given what Oren and I believe to be the root cause of the brown stuff, I don't think sodium salts are going to fix the problem at all.
Certainly we know, from our past direct experiments, that Phosphoric acid won't do the trick - and that dissolves rust directly.

I have nothing against anyone. I'm here for the learning. I thought your post was funny - and - I fully understood where you were coming from. Had I "ignorantly" done all that I did, I'd be an MC for the Darwin award ceremony; but I actually knew the rules that I was breaking - and I was prepared to see what happened.
Just like I broke the rule to "never touch a torsion spring" and the age-old rule "never run with scissors" (and a few thousand more that little boys are subject to day in and day out by their moms), I knew what I was doing in so much as I knew other people would be afraid to do what I did.
But I also made pipe bombs as a kid; rode a bicycle without a helmet; went hiking without telling my parents where I was going (they didn't care and I didn't know); climbed any fence that said "keep out"; jumped off the swing at the highest point; dove into the water from local bridges & swam even though the reservoir said "no swimming"; etc.
Plus, if I can handle Bob K., I certainly can handle anything anyone else can dish out and still keep my cheerful rosy attitude.
I like people; I like learning from people; I like learning things myself after learning from people; and then I like to pass it on to pay it forward. Good or bad, I pass it on, so others benefit, as always. I especially like folks like Oren, krw, & trader4; but many other wonderful people flesh out the team such as dadiOH, Nate, SMS, Frank, notbob, Dufas, Stormin, Vic, Ashton, Derby, dpb, Smitty, Tony, Meanie, Douglas, etc.
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On Mon, 29 Apr 2013 10:36:54 -0700 Oren wrote:

There's a thread on alt.usage.english about this; it's cooties. :)
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On 04/28/2013 01:50 AM, Danny D. wrote:

You had to "learn" not to put your skin into HCl?
I think I understand why there are so many warning labels now....
Jon
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On 4/28/2013 4:25 PM, Jon Danniken wrote:

You can burn the skin of your hands rather miserably and get over it quickly....do the same thing to your bronchi/lungs and you may not get over it. I would not use the s--- indoors, for anything, and I have stains in my toilet bowl :o) My potty is old gold color, blue stain around the water line of the bowl. I have used green 3M scrubbers (fairly gently) to get deposits out of t.b. that regular bowl cleaner or CLR did not remove.
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Norminn;3054535 Wrote:

I guess its okay to use it as long as you follow instructions. I usually just pour a little in the toilet bowl and cover it for 30 minutes. When I come back, the brown stains are gone and all I do is pour lysol, brush a little and t.b. is as good as new.
--
ehernandez

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On Mon, 29 Apr 2013 13:16:03 +0200 ehernandez wrote:

The main problem with pouring into the toilet bowl is that much of the staining is up near the top of the bowl and that much of the scale is inside in the channels that the water follows.
After having done it the correct way, and having also done it the incorrect way, I can definitely suggest what I found to be the best method.
BTW, gloves are helpful; a mask isn't really needed; and eye protection is a good idea in case you accidentally splash.
0. Don't be stingy on the acid (a gallon is a good amount). 1. Empty the toilet bowl of water (any way you want). 2. Plastic wrap the bowl (no need for tape). 3. Ventilate (a fan is enough but windows are good too). 4. Pour acid slowly using a funnel (no splashes!). 5. Plastic wrap the tube (no need for baggies & rubber bands). 6. Wait an hour (this is the slow and easy method). 7. Remove plastic & pour baking soda (it will use a lot!). 8. Remove tube plastic wrap over tank tube (ask me why). 9. Flush like there's no tomorrow (10 flushes is good). 10. Inspect & reapply as needed.
Note: If you cup and re-use the acid, you can get away with a quarter of a gallon; but it's not worth saving the half hour or the gallon to expose yourself to more HCl fumes than you need to be exposed to (but don't expect to be fume free. If you can't talk for a few minutes, then you got way too much; but otherwise, expect a few whiffs of the stuff to the point that you immediately notice it, and you simply hold your breath and move away to breathe again until the ventilation system removes those fumes.
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On Sun, 28 Apr 2013 07:05:16 -0700 Oren wrote:

Indeed. That was my point. Don't do as I did, or you will also have a heavy chest and itchy fingers.
BTW, I found this article which backs up your theory of where the BROWN color comes from:
http://www.silive.com/homegarden/homeimprovement/index.ssf/2010/08/muriatic_acid_is_best_for_remo.html
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On Sun, 28 Apr 2013 15:05:06 -0700 Oren wrote:

What I like about lining up your ducks & following the rules, is the task works. What I love about breaking the rules, is you learn HOW that task really works!
Hence, there are more lessons learned when things go wrong than when they go right.
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Great quote!
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On Mon, 29 Apr 2013 03:43:12 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

You can be dead right, too.
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On Mon, 29 Apr 2013 12:07:41 -0400 krw wrote:

Some lessons have longer-term implications ... like stepping in front of a train.
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On Mon, 29 Apr 2013 16:43:23 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

You might as well. When your lungs are gone, the rest isn't worth much.
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