How to Clean Up a Spill of Concentrated Phosphoric Acid: A Complete Guide

Do you know that phosphoric acid appears comparatively weak but can vigorously irritate your nose and throat while breathing if you are not careful? Although it’s quite risky to use if a worker is not careful about it, the acid is wonderful as well in terms of using a lot of applications; for instance – disinfection, rust removal, pharmaceuticals, dentistry, antifreeze, and food, for naming but a few obviously.

A concentrated phosphoric acid spill can be unhealthy for you and your environment. So, how do you clean up a spill of concentrated phosphoric acid? Let’s check out the elements and the steps to follow:

What You Will Need?

Acids are by nature neutralized with bases. If you are thinking of using them, you should clean up and neutralize them carefully. In order to run a safe and easy cleanup process, you must use a convenient and suitable base substance and also follow a few precautions as well. Let’s check out the elements you will require for running this cleanup process:

1. Basic Supplies

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    An acid neutralizer
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    Loose sorbent, pillows, or absorbent pads
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    Lab coat or apron
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    Splash Goggles
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    Chemical-resistant gloves
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    Shoe covers (optional)

2. Waste Management

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    Tape for sealing bags
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    Sealable container
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    Hazardous waste labels
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    Plastic mixing tools
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    Large waste bags

Steps to Follow:

Clear The Area

Fumes of this acid are really dangerous and the process of its neutralization can be the reason of discharging some hazardous and corrosive irritants like chlorine gas. So, if you are running this cleanup process in an area, you must take into account to clean the area of other people.

Ventilate The Area

While you are processing the cleanup and neutralization, you should switch on the fans and open all the windows, in order to maximize the air flow. The complete area should be ventilated thoroughly. The fumes from the concentrated acid spill and the cleanup process are more harmful than diluted vapors.

Sprinkle Spills

You can use either powdered garden lime or baking soda for sprinkling spills. The usage amount of base substance depends on the spill’s volume. You must use it carefully and work generously to abstain from splashing the phosphoric acid. In terms of neutralizing a controlled usage of acid, don’t sprinkle spills.

Allow The Base To Neutralize

Bases absorb while sitting on the acid, as it neutralizes. So, allow it to do it. You must carefully observe some fizzing, signing it is functioning. You will have to give it a few minutes to function properly and don’t stand over it when you wait.

Sweep Up

After using the base substance, now it’s time to run the sweeping process! You can use a dustpan and a broom to sweep up the acid mixture and the sodden base. After sweeping them up, now keep the waste disposal in a trash plastic bag, and seal it properly.

Mix Sufficient Water

Use a bucket for mixing gallons of water with an alkaline dishwasher, a cup of household ammonia, or a dish detergent for making a huge amount of suds and cleaning a better way. Don’t forget to use a higher, plain alkalinity detergent for seeing the best results.

Flood The Area

If you find an area with ample amount of water, simply flood it for saturating the spot. You can easily use old clothes or just a mop for swabbing the area, based on the amount of acid which was spilled and the area you need to clean up.

Rinse The Area

Use clean and fresh water only, if you need to rinse the area where the phosphoric acid spilled. Do not stop rinsing until the area is clean completely. Leave the area in the open air to make it completely dry. Proper rinsing of the area can prevent it from getting damaged.

Flush Your Broom, Mop, and Dustpan

After you are done with neutralization of the surfaces, it’s time to flush your mop, broom, and dustpan! The clothes you have used for this cleanup process, do not use anymore. Simply throw them away along with the base substance and acid mixture.


Hope you liked this tutorial. If you want to clean the spill with no protection, you can but we will recommend you to call a professional for abstaining from the acid exposure. Apply the steps mentioned in the tutorial and don’t forget to share your experience in the comment section below.

How to Clean Up a Spill of Concentrated Phosphoric Acid: A Complete Guide
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  • Updated April 11, 2018
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