Provided the acid does not contain other contaminants such as
heavy metals which then qualifies the stuff as hazardous waste
small amounts and small spills of nitric acid can be
neutralized and disposed off with baking soda (ie. sodium
bicarbonate Na2HCO3) or sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). Both
products are available in any grocery store.
The acid will react with either of these powders to give off a
gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and a salt sodium nitrate (NaNO3)
which is garden fertilizer. When no more gas is given off (no
more fizz) all the acid would have been neutralized. Excess
carbonate is harmless to the environment- you cook with and eat
that stuff don’t you…
The chances are that after some time most people will get too
comfortable with acid + carbonate fizz and get careless. So
from the very beginning make it a HABIT always to dilute the
concentrated acid by adding the acid to water, NEVER water to
the acid. Similarly, when applicable, pour the acid into the
the neutralizer. Of course in a spill the only thing you can do
is to sprinkle the carbonate on the spill.
The carbonates can also be used to neutralize other shop-use
Hydrochloric and carbonate will give off CO2 and sodium
chloride (NaCl) which is common salt.
Sulphuric acid will give off CO2 and sodium sulphate (Na2SO4) ,
a stuff which commonly appears, among other hard water
compounds, as a white furry deposit on your furnace humidifier.
Kelvin Mok (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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