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Old 01-09-2016, 08:21   #1
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Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

Does anyone know what level of concentration is required to effectively descale and decalcify black water pipes?

Now that I've had my Raritan Sea Era toilet apart I know that there's nothing in it which can be damaged by muriatic acid, so I'm thinking this would be a good time to blow out the pipes.

I have some 9% hydrochloric acid.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:25   #2
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

If you're asking about muriatic acid, about a 12% dilution should do the job. Follow with plenty of clean fresh water after about 45 minutes. If the buildup is severe, it may take two treatments.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:52   #3
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

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Originally Posted by peghall View Post
If you're asking about muriatic acid, about a 12% dilution should do the job. Follow with plenty of clean fresh water after about 45 minutes. If the buildup is severe, it may take two treatments.
Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:53   #4
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

What about Vinegar? I've had pretty good luck cleaning out the bowl using the sort that you get at the market. How well would it do the rest of the plumbing if allowed to sit for say 12hrs? As that would be a more pleasant way to clean them than beating them up against pilings, to beat the c**p out of them.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:00   #5
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

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What about Vinegar? I've had pretty good luck cleaning out the bowl using the sort that you get at the market. How well would it do the rest of the plumbing if allowed to sit for say 12hrs? As that would be a more pleasant way to clean them than beating them up against pilings, to beat the c**p out of them.
Mainesail disproved that myth in one of his articles. It didn't do anything to the build up.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:00   #6
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

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What about Vinegar? I've had pretty good luck cleaning out the bowl using the sort that you get at the market. How well would it do the rest of the plumbing if allowed to sit for say 12hrs? As that would be a more pleasant way to clean them than beating them up against pilings, to beat the c**p out of them.
When I was sailing in U.S. waters (a couple of boats and a couple of decades ago), I used to do what many on here do, and pour a gallon of white vinegar through the heads every month or so. I never had any problems so it seems to have worked.

But I have never been able to buy any bulk vinegar over here, anywhere. So I usually use a bit of Harpic, the kind which is made from lactic acid.

But I haven't done anything in about a year and thought it was time for a general clean-out. My Sea Era doesn't pump out as well as it pumps in, which is irritating, since you have to turn off the sea cock (it doesn't have a separate "pump out only" control like most electric toilets have). I thought there may be something restricting the flow out.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:16   #7
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

Not a solution for the current problem, but maybe to prevent future scaling: My understanding is that it is the urea sitting in the pipes that causes a chemical/biological reaction that causes a scale build up. Flushing thoroughly will eliminate the problem. I have been doing that for years now and all pipes are clear.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:21   #8
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
Not a solution for the current problem, but maybe to prevent future scaling: My understanding is that it is the urea sitting in the pipes that causes a chemical/biological reaction that causes a scale build up. Flushing thoroughly will eliminate the problem. I have been doing that for years now and all pipes are clear.
That is also my understanding, and the reason why I try to always flush through very thoroughly. This is easier to do with an electric toilet -- one significant reason to have them.

But it's much harder if you're using the holding tank -- fight between tank capacity and healthy lines.

And if you have a lot of people on board, it's hard to enforce. A surprising number of people can't be persuaded to keep flushing after whatever is being flushed, goes out of view.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:28   #9
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

This is why the Navy had such stiff punishments. Cat o' nine tails, keel hauling, walking the plank etc.

You could start with a removal of grog rations. I suspect that threat would be all it will take to bring them into line.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:29   #10
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

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Originally Posted by ontherocks83 View Post
Mainesail disproved that myth in one of his articles. It didn't do anything to the build up.
Here's the article I think:

Vinegar In The Head, Useful...? | SailboatOwners.com Forums

I'm not sure that this proves that vinegar doesn't help, if used regularly for maintenance, as opposed to trying to descale pipes. Mainesail does, however, say that he doesn't see any difference in the black water pipes of his customers who use vinegar.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:30   #11
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
This is why the Navy had such stiff punishments. Cat o' nine tails, keel hauling, walking the plank etc.

You could start with a removal of grog rations. I suspect that threat would be all it will take to bring them into line.
LOL!
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:33   #12
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

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Originally Posted by ontherocks83 View Post
Mainesail disproved that myth in one of his articles. It didn't do anything to the build up.
On my 1st boat, after a few months of living onboard, the head itself had some horrid, smelly, seawater salt calcifications. And none of the dozen toilet bowl cleaners that I bought would even touch them. Which was when I realized that the combination of urine, & sea salts was creating a mineral "shell" (scale) in the bowl, & bonded to the bowl also.
So I thought back to growing up, & what would dissolve sea shells... & came up with Vinegar (that & sodas).

Well, it took all of a gallon of Vinegar, plus 3 minutes with the toilet brush, & that bowl was spotless. The mineral scale build up was history.
So from then on, Vinegar was what I used to clean all things commode. And it worked without fail. Probably because Vinegar is Acetic Acid. A milder, organic acid than what Dockhead asked about using to clean his black water plumbing.

It does work. And I've even used it to acid etch Aluminum, when I was out of anything stronger. In order to prep the metal for Alodyne or a self etching primer. And it worked great for that too, BTW. Sans the toxicity of harsher chemicals.

Probably the most critical difference between vinegar & muriatic acid, battery acid (hydrochloric) etc. is the pH level. AKA how acidic the acid is, often referred to as it's concentration (somewhat incorrectly).
Which in this thread Dockhead quoted as a percentage. Meaning a concentrated acid of a certain pH, thinned out by X percent. pH being a measure of somethings acidity or alkalinity.

But if you desired to, you could use Coca Cola to clean the calcification out of your head onboard. It's an acid as well. And I've used it to clean the corrosion off of battery cable terminals & wires in situ, when there was enough corrosion on them to inhibit enough electrical contact to get the engine to turn over.

Worked great, although it did eat a bit of copper out of the cables too. So don't do it as a habit. But on heavily corroded ones, when in extremis... it's worth a try. As vinegar might be.

PS: "In situ" meaning that the chemical action of the Coca Cola stripped the corrosion off of the wire's terminals without having to disconnect them.
Quite a handy trick.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:40   #13
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

What about Vinegar?

A cupful of distilled white vinegar flushed all the way through the system once a week--followed with a clean fresh water rinse after about 45 minutes--does a great job of PREVENTING mineral buildup, and while it would eventually dissolve one, it would require multiple applications (it loses effectiveness after about an hour)...just not worth the effort when there are products that can clean out the plumbing in an hour.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:41   #14
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
This is why the Navy had such stiff punishments. Cat o' nine tails, keel hauling, walking the plank etc.

You could start with a removal of grog rations. I suspect that threat would be all it will take to bring them into line.
Yep, LOL. And why am I thinking that the threat of withholding the grog rations would invoke the most fear?

Or as Johnny Depp said when playng the role of a Pirate Captain who'd kidnapped the princess... "But why is the rum gone"? As he tried with all of his might not to throttle her
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:52   #15
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Re: Acid Concentration Required to Descale Black Water Pipes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Here's the article I think:

Vinegar In The Head, Useful...? | SailboatOwners.com Forums

I'm not sure that this proves that vinegar doesn't help, if used regularly for maintenance, as opposed to trying to descale pipes. Mainesail does, however, say that he doesn't see any difference in the black water pipes of his customers who use vinegar.
Sorry this is the one

Vinegar In The Head..? Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com

as far as preventative I'm not sure but, he does show that built up calcification it doesn't seem to help.
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