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Hydrochloric Acid vs. Muriatic Acid: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 26, 2023
Hydrochloric acid is a pure, laboratory-grade acid (HCl); muriatic acid is a less pure, industrial-grade variant of hydrochloric acid.

Key Differences

Hydrochloric acid is a strong, corrosive acid composed of hydrogen and chlorine (HCl). It is commonly used in scientific research and industrial applications for its reactive properties. Muriatic acid, on the other hand, is essentially the same chemical compound but often less pure and more diluted. It is used for more general purposes, like in household cleaning and pool maintenance.
In terms of purity, hydrochloric acid is typically more refined and has fewer impurities, making it suitable for precise laboratory work and chemical synthesis. While, muriatic acid often contains impurities and additives, which make it less suitable for lab applications but more practical and cost-effective for commercial and residential use.
Hydrochloric acid is generally available in higher concentrations and is used in applications requiring a high degree of chemical reactivity, such as in the production of chlorides, dyes, and fertilizers. Muriatic acid, being less concentrated, is safer for non-professional use, commonly used for cleaning masonry or adjusting the pH of swimming pools.
Safety measures for handling hydrochloric acid are stringent due to its high reactivity and concentration, requiring specialized equipment and training. Muriatic acid, while still dangerous, is typically handled with standard safety precautions like gloves and eye protection, owing to its lower concentration.
Hydrochloric acid has a significant role in the human body as well, being a component of gastric acid essential for digestion. Meanwhile, muriatic acid, given its impurities and lower purity, is not suitable for any applications related to biology or health.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Composition

Pure hydrogen chloride (HCl)
Less pure form of HCl

Purity Level

High purity, fewer impurities
Contains impurities and additives


Higher concentrations available
Typically less concentrated


Laboratory, chemical synthesis
Household cleaning, pool maintenance

Safety Requirements

Stringent safety measures
Standard safety precautions

Hydrochloric Acid and Muriatic Acid Definitions

Hydrochloric Acid

Used in manufacturing processes.
Hydrochloric acid is used in the production of fertilizers.

Muriatic Acid

A diluted form of hydrochloric acid.
Muriatic acid is often used for cleaning bricks.

Hydrochloric Acid

Common in scientific research.
We use hydrochloric acid for titration in our chemistry lab.

Muriatic Acid

Common in residential use.
Muriatic acid can remove tough stains from concrete.

Hydrochloric Acid

Part of human gastric acid.
Hydrochloric acid in the stomach aids in digestion.

Muriatic Acid

Used to balance pool pH.
We add muriatic acid to adjust our pool's acidity.

Hydrochloric Acid

A highly corrosive acid.
Hydrochloric acid is used to adjust the pH in industrial processes.

Muriatic Acid

A cheaper alternative to pure hydrochloric acid.
Muriatic acid is preferred for its affordability in large-scale applications.

Hydrochloric Acid

Used in producing various chemicals.
Hydrochloric acid is essential in synthesizing chlorides.

Muriatic Acid

Suitable for non-lab applications.
Muriatic acid is used in commercial cleaning products.


Where is muriatic acid typically used?

For household cleaning, masonry work, and pool maintenance.

Are hydrochloric acid and muriatic acid the same chemically?

Yes, they are both hydrogen chloride (HCl), but differ in purity and concentration.

What is muriatic acid?

An industrial-grade, less pure form of hydrochloric acid.

What are common uses of hydrochloric acid?

In chemical manufacturing, laboratory research, and as part of gastric acid.

What safety equipment is needed for hydrochloric acid?

Specialized gloves, eye protection, and sometimes a fume hood are required.

Can hydrochloric acid be used in place of muriatic acid?

Technically yes, but it's often too pure and concentrated for general use.

Why is hydrochloric acid important in digestion?

It helps break down food and kill harmful bacteria in the stomach.

Can muriatic acid be used on all surfaces?

No, it can damage certain materials and should be used selectively.

Can muriatic acid be used in pools?

Yes, it's commonly used to adjust pool pH levels.

What is hydrochloric acid?

A strong, corrosive acid used in various industrial and scientific applications.

Is muriatic acid environmentally friendly?

It should be used cautiously as it can harm the environment if misused.

Is muriatic acid safe for home use?

With proper precautions, it can be used safely for home cleaning.

How do you neutralize a spill of muriatic acid?

Generally, with a weak base, like baking soda, in a controlled manner.

How is hydrochloric acid produced?

Typically by combining hydrogen gas and chlorine.

How should hydrochloric acid be stored?

In a cool, well-ventilated area, away from incompatible substances.

What industries rely heavily on hydrochloric acid?

The pharmaceutical, food processing, and metal industries, among others.

Can hydrochloric acid be used in food processing?

Yes, in regulated amounts and specific applications.

Can muriatic acid be used in gardening?

It can adjust soil pH but must be used very carefully due to its strength.

What is the main hazard of muriatic acid?

Its corrosive nature, especially to skin and eyes.

Are there any alternatives to hydrochloric acid in industrial use?

Yes, depending on the application, other acids like sulfuric acid can be used.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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