Can Hydrochloric Acid Open Clogged Drains?

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Hydrochloric and sulferic acid are two common components of anti-clog products.

Nasty clogs in your plumbing can be difficult to get rid of; the dirty standing water can be quite unsanitary. Hydrochloric acid (HCl), sometimes called muriatic acid, is a common ingredient in many anti-clog formulas; the powerful chemical works to dissolve buildup in your pipes. Caution must be used when employing hydrochloric acid as it is quite corrosive and can damage your pipes and your skin if applied incorrectly.


Video of the Day

About Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloric acid is made from hydrochloride mixed with water and is a very strong chemical that can almost instantly dissolve the soap and hair that is clogging your drain. The chemical is commonly found in a very diluted form in household cleaning supplies and is also used in the processing of leather, the purification of regular salt, and the pickling of steel. The chemical is also found naturally in the stomach, aiding digestion.


You can use diluted hydrochloric acid purchased from a hardware or home-improvement store to unclog your drain if you have copper pipes; if you don't want to use the pure form of the chemical, you can also look for a commercial drain cleaner product that uses HCl. Be aware that some highly concentrated forms of hydrochloric acid are not for sale to the general public; stores may require proof of a plumbing license from those wishing to purchase the chemical.


Safety Concerns

Hydrochloric acid can cause major burns if it comes into contact with your skin and is also dangerous to your respiratory system if you accidentally inhale its vapors. Another concern is that hydrochloric acid can corrode and completely destroy metal pipes. Refrain from mixing hydrochloric acid with other chemicals as this could have disastrous results and could even culminate in death or serious bodily injury.

Other Methods

If you have metal or porcelain pipes, you will have to choose another route for unclogging your pipes. If the clog seems minor, you could purchase an anti-clog commercial product at the drugstore; for bigger clogs, call a licensed professional. You could wind up doing more damage to your pipes if you attempt a major plumbing operation on your own.



Ginger Yapp

Ginger Yapp has been writing professionally since 2006, specializing in travel and film topics. Her work has appeared in such publications as "USA Today" and online at Yapp also has experience writing and editing for a small California newspaper. She earned her B.A. in film and media studies and has worked as an ESL teacher at an international school.