Gut Rumbles

April 14, 2003

more acid stuff

I received a lot more comments and emails than I expected when I wrote my post about how I became known as "Acidman." The subject of acid seems to fascinate a bunch of people. It really shouldn't, because everybody reading this blog deals with acid every day.

I believe that acid is scary because of old black-and-white horror movies, where the hero or heronie in a mad scientist's lab always grabbed a bottle of Hydrochloric Acid and threw it in the monster's face at the end of the movie. The monster screamed, steamed and melted after that. I grew up believing that Hydrochloric acid was the most dangerous stuff in the world.

I'll bet that a BUNCH of people reading this post drank Phosphoric Acid today. If you drank a Coke or a Pepsi, you damned sure did. Read the ingredients on a Coke can. Good old Phosphoric Acid, P2O5, is a vital ingredient of ANY cola drink. (Okay-- quick chemistry lesson here: pH is a measure of alkalinity and acidity and the scale runs from 1 to 14. The lower the pH, the more acidic the substance is. The higher the pH, the more alkaline it is. Neutral (distilled water) has a pH of 7.0, right in the middle. Coke has a pH of about 3.5. When you wash your ham sandwich down with a coke at lunch, you're DRINKING ACID!!!

Sulfuric acid is one of the most commonly used chemicals in the world. It is used in EVERYTHING, from paper processing, to battery manufacturing, to digesting other chemicals to make them work in a process, to cleaning the beer vats at Anheiser-Bush to making nutrasweet and many pharaceuticals. The first written recipe for how to make sulfuric acid was etched on papyris about 5,000 years ago from the ancient region of Mesopotamia, right where we're fighting a war now. If done correctly, this formula would produce about a 15% solution of sulfuric acid, and it's primary use back then was in a formula for a LAXITIVE.

Hmmm... I don't know if it worked, but it HAD to burn either going down or coming out.

Sulfuric acid is a lot more dangerous than hydrochloric acid is, because sulfuric can be made at much higher concentrations. HCL runs out of room to grow stronger at about a 35% concentration. That killer of horror-movie monsters also is known as Muiratic Acid, and if you look at a bottle of Visine (or its competitor, Murine) you'll see that the prime ingredient that you drop in your eyes to "get the red out" is Muriatic Acid.

I've worked around several lime scrubbers, and we always used Acetic Acid to clean encrusted lime off the equipment. You probably have a bottle of acetic acid in your home right now, and if you like Italian Dressing on your salad, you EAT IT. It's called "vinegar."

We just introduced a new slurry product at work, and it gets a heavy dose of Citric Acid in the beginning of the process. Do you like lemonade? If you do, you drink citric acid.

Want to know why environmentalists piss me off so bad and send me off on rants all the time? It's because ordinary people who DON'T make a career working around all types of chemicals are easily frightened by the bullshit the scaremongers throw at them. I really believe that "toxic" is the most misused and misunderstood word in the English language any more.

EVERYTHING is "toxic" if you get too much of it. NOTHING IS TOXIC if you don't allow yourself to become poisoned. I'm not going to rewrite things I've written before here, but I'll tell you this. If you listen without question to the scaremongers, you're allowing yourself to be played for a dupe, a chump, and somebody's bitch. And the people doing it are making billions of dollars, buying politicians and changing the face of this country with their lies.

Joni Electric emailed to ask what was the most danergous acid I had ever worked around. On paper, that's easy. hydroflouric acid is by far the most dangerous chemical I've ever worked around if you just go by the POSSIBILITIES of what this chemical can do. But I handle it in concentrations no higher than 5%. It doesn't worry me, because it's not strong enough to unleash all its wrath.

The stuff looks like green water and has about as much effect on skin as the water in the borrow pits of Effingham County. Maybe less. Those borrow pits grow some nasty shit in them. That's why they turn green.

Full-blown, undiluted hydroflouric acid is one bad mofo. It packs the kind of wallop that doesn't wash off. But when it's dilute, you can wash Never-Seize stains off your hands with it. It ain't the poison, people. It's the dose.

Okay, that's acid lesson #2. Have a Coke, eat an Italian salad and squeeze lemon juice over the fish you cook to go with it.



Don't forget Ascorbic and Folic Acid! (g)

Posted by: Ernest Brown on April 14, 2003 07:04 PM

Yeah, my family is damn sick of me saying "There are no toxic substances, only toxic levels". I must use that phrase just about every time I visit.

But, dammit, its true!

Pour yourself a glass of water. I guarantee you there is ARSENIC in it right now, and every other trace element in there can kill you too... IF you take enough of it.

Don't focus on weather it SOUNDS scary... get the facts! Or at least be skeptical.

Posted by: Ryan Waxx on April 14, 2003 07:07 PM

Want another example of scaremongering making no sense: CFC's. At huge molecule, that is supposed to make it's way into the upper atmoshere. Believe me as someone who works in the refrigeration industry you don't want to be near the floor or in a basement when there's a large leak anywhere near you.

Posted by: Diane K on April 14, 2003 07:46 PM

Perhaps, but I don't recall that being cited as a cause to debunk... and I think it would have, were it impossible.

Posted by: Ryan Waxx on April 14, 2003 07:57 PM

There's a substance that when inhaled in sufficient amounts is nearly 100% fatal. Most of our food contains it, and it's in our rivers, lakes and even the oceans. It's even been known to fall copiously from the sky.

In fact, each and every one of us is contaminated with it to the point of approximately 900,000 parts per million.

Dihydrogen monoxide. It's a killer!

Posted by: Kevin McGehee on April 14, 2003 08:23 PM

Well, damn! Why didn't I have you for a chemistry professor? It sounds simple once you explain it. Or perhaps, basic........LOL

Posted by: Robin on April 14, 2003 08:27 PM

Kevin, correct me if I'm wrong, but that WATER, isn't it?

Posted by: Acidman on April 14, 2003 08:28 PM

Back when I worked in a research lab, we were going to do some work with anhydrous HF. As part of the safety training, everyone had to read a certain chapter from a book, Toxic Properties of Inorganic Fluorides. The chapter was written for medical professionals, and had detailed clinical descriptions of the final hours in the lives of people who had been splashed in the face and inhaled just a few drops of the stuff. Nearly thirty years later, the thought still makes my skin crawl.

Posted by: Ernie G on April 14, 2003 08:30 PM

muriatic acid...that is what I used to clean the grout on my bathroom floor.

Posted by: sugarmama on April 14, 2003 09:21 PM

You're right, A-man, HF is some nasty shit. I wouldn't even want to get a 5% sol'n on me. HF is absorbed through the skin and heads straight for the calcium in your bones. Just washing it off won't do it. You've got to rub in a mixture of KY Jelly and calcium glutarate.

Caustic still makes me nervous. I got fucked up with NaOH real bad a number of years ago and it took a long time to climb back into the saddle. You hear stories about people pouring Drano into a clogged drain and it blows back in their face? I've seen them. It'll curdle your blood.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on April 14, 2003 09:25 PM

One of the most fascinating things in law school was a section in tort class talking about carcinogens. It turns out that in the stereotypical thanksgiving dinner (turkey, dressing, etc.), there are over 100 carcinogens present.

Yes even water can kill you if you drink too much of it. I remember getting the lecture at this marathon training program orientation. (I moved so I never did the marathon)

Posted by: Melissa on April 14, 2003 09:37 PM

Ugh. HF. A friend of mine back in college did a lab that involved diluted HF, but they had to mix it down from the eight molar stuff in the bigass jugs. Talk about a sphincter factor when you lift one of those things up.

Posted by: Mr. Lion on April 14, 2003 10:14 PM

A cigar for Acidman.

Notice how I said, "inhaled in sufficient amounts, it's nearly 100% fatal" -- yet didn't mention that people who inhale small amounts of it all the time (as do we all) have lived in some instances more than 130 years...

Just a quick example of alarmist tactics.

Posted by: Kevin McGehee on April 15, 2003 06:26 AM

Ralph is correct. Hydroflouric acid is literally "Bad to the Bone."

Posted by: Acidman on April 15, 2003 05:06 PM

oh yeah, HF.. nice stuff. We used to use it to clean aluminum wheels when i was a car detailer. Nothin beats it.

Posted by: pril on April 16, 2003 01:44 PM

I have been exposed to HF many times in the Chevron refinery @ Salt Lake City. Annual shutdowns of the Alky unit require replacing piping and valves and valve repair. During this process a lot of HF vapors and mists are released. Myself and several friends are no experiencing health problems that doctors can't explain,i.e.,swelling of joints,arteries,and muscles. Two of my friends that were in pretty good shape have died of strokes and heart attack even though they had recent exams showing their condition was good. There isn't much info on long term exposure because of reporting(none) or failure to make a connection between HF and ailments. Anyone woh has info or questions please get back to me

Posted by: Samuel Eames on April 9, 2004 04:23 PM
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