Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Muriatic acid and galvanization?


Recommended Posts

Spent some quality time with the search function, but didn't turn up anything.

I've got a project in mind for an early style barrel padlock, and I want to use some pipe for the barrel. The only problem is the only pipe of the right size readily avaliable to me is galvanized.

I know all about the health risks of galvy, I knew about that long before I even thought about picking up the hammer. But though I've used galvanized wire a lot in the past for making chainmaille, I've never had cause to remove the galvanization before.

I've got some Muriatic acid, and I thought that might do the trick, but I wanted some input first. Will it remove the galvanization, and should I dillute it or use it straight up?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nick, I myself have used muriatic acid (diluted some with water) on numerous occasions for etching and/or for removing galvanized. [Follow acid & water mixing and all other related safeguards]

I was taught the trick in a university level artist blacksmithing class. There are numerous pieces of rusty scrap to be had that have a dangerous zinc/galvaized coating lurking just under the rusty coat. I now automatically give a muriatic test bath to all rusty parts too. When placed in diluted muriatic zinc/galvanized will almost instantly begin to react & fizz, even if it is hidden under a rusty layer. Continue bath until ALL fizzing stops, then rinse in baking soda & water to neutralize. Before using this safety process I had zinc sneak up & bite me a few times will sickening results.

Be safe, not sorry! I would much rather talk to you than about you!

Hope this info helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you, it does. I'd be out getting the pipe right now, except it seems my uncle has made off with my car's battery. Long story, don't know exactly what he did, hope he's back soon.

What kind of fumes are released during this process? I'll be ventilating, but it'd be nice to know what I'm ventilating for, which might change the whitertos and the whyfors.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nick it works great for zinc removal and/or as a pattern weld etchant! For either use I combine the muriatic acid with a little water too. Follow all safety rules related to acid use, mixing, storage, disposal, etc.

I was taught this method in university level artist blacksmithing courses. Many are unaware that zinc/galvanized can actually remain hidden under a rusty coating too. I automatically test all rusty materials now too as I have had zinc sneak up & bite me on more than one occasion with sickening consequences.

Place item in solution and if even a small amount of zinc is present (seen or unseen) a reaction and fizzing will begin almost immediately. Allow acid bath to continue until ALL fizzing stops, then rinse item in baking soda & water to neutralize.


I would much rather talk to you than about you!

Hope this info helps!

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Home Depot, Lowes, or most any hardware usually carries black-iron pipe in any length, from 1" nipples to 10' pipes.

1/2" up to 1.5" ID is common.

A short length of black-iron pipe is probably going to be cheaper the the muratic acid, not to mention a lot less trouble.

As with any sort of material from such stores, the longer the piece you buy, the less your cost per inch.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Nick. This works just fine. It is cheap, easy, and you don't have to breathe the zinc fumes. Dilute the acid, and let it sit a long time. The less it froths, the less collateral rust damage you will have caused by aerosolized HCl.

How much to use? Here is a quick calculation:

A 1/2" schedule 40 galvanized pipe will have about 1.8 oz/sq ft of zinc. For 1 ft of pipe with id 5/8" and od 7/8", this is

7/8/12*3.1416*1.8 + 5/8/12*3.1416*1.8 = .7061 oz/ft

assuming the inner layer is intact. For most cheap blacksmiths, however, the inner layer will be almost missing due to corrosion, else why was the pipe free in the first place.

Pool hydrochloric acid is about 30% by weight HCl. The density is 1.149. HCl has a molar weight of 36.14, so one gram of pool acid has:

.3/36.14 = 0.0083 moles of H+, two of which are required to dissolve one mole of divalent zinc with a molar weight of 63.4.

(.3/36.14)*63.4/2 = .2631 grams of zinc dissolved by one gram of pool acid,
or the same number of ounces of zinc dissolved by one (weight) ounce of acid. This must be debited to convert to fluid ounces, since pool acid is slightly denser than water:

.7061/.2631/1.149 = 2.3356 fluid ounces of acid per foot of 1/2" sch 40 pipe.

Use more to make sure its all gone in a reasonable time, or use less if the pipe is heavily corroded. I have noticed that even if a lot more is used, not all the zinc is dissolved. It can flare up when you hit the hot metal with a hammer dislodging a piece of rust (remember, cheap pipe has lumps of rust inside) which protected some zinc. Do not inhale.

I hope the numbers are correct.

Disposing of the acid? Evaporate to make cheap killed acid soldering flux, or neutralize with baking soda, or pour on concrete, and it will slowly neutralize by itself. Does zinc disposed of in this manner create more water pollution than it would create air pollution from burning it off? I don't know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 13 years later...
On 1/30/2007 at 1:46 PM, Nick said:

What kind of fumes are released during this process? I'll be ventilating, but it'd be nice to know what I'm ventilating for, which might change the whitertos and the whyfors.

There are several reactions that will occur. NONE of the gas given off is harmful as it is Hydrogen.  BUT, given that you don't always know what it is you are truly working with it is best not to inhale the fumes.

The first reaction is the Zn and HCL producing ZnCl2 & H2or zinc chloride, a solid and hydrogen gas.

The second reaction with rust Fe2O3 producing FeCl3 and H2O, a solid and the water.

The third reaction is between the HCL and the metal itself, this produces FeCl2 and H2, a solid and the hydrogen gas.


Not harmful if you don't consider getting blown up harmful

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr. D.M.C. 3,

Hydrogen  (gas)  is flammable.  (remember the Hindenburg!)

It can explode if enough gas is generated. Especially if that gas is somehow contained.

(i.e.  if there is not enough ventilation).

Welcome to the group.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, JHCC said:

Acetic acid + zinc = hydrogen gas and zinc acetate. Hydrogen is flammable, but disperses quickly. Zinc acetate is non-toxic.

Any acid + zinc will produce hydrogen at varying rates and concentrations.  The vinegar is low strength acetic acid and the reaction is so slow and if done in an aerated place, the small amount of hydrogen produced will not be dangerous.  I have used vinegar hundreds of times, but will NOT use muriatic acid to degalvanize.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a gallon jug of muriatic acid for other uses than de-galv.  I keep it outside the shop under a table for shade, in the open.  A jug of that in the shop will also cause rust and corrosion...ask me how I know...that's why it's now outside.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...