What’s more important to you? Clean glass or living a long healthy life? The dangers of using Hydrofluoric Acid are huge. We’re not talking about Hydrochloric Acid here. That is dangerous but doesn’t even come close to the extreme nastiness and danger Hydrofluoric Acid brings. It is a contact poison that in it’s concentrated form can dissolve glass and many other materials, especially oxides. This is the wildest chemical we have ever dealt with and it’s why many years ago XO2 removed any product that contained any quantity of HF from its range.
HF is amazing and deadly
Yes, this raw material is amazing, it works. No arguments there. It removes hard water mineral stains, non-slips ceramic tiles, restores aluminium, cleans mag wheels, removes rust marks and does a whole lot more very effectively and like nothing else. Unfortunately when you are around a chemical like this accidents do happen and the consequences with HF are extreme. Exposure to HF has a sinister twist. This acid can be odourless and skin burns can be initially painless but any delay in getting treatment will decrease chances of survival so acting fast is a must.
What about work health and safety?
Over the years people have died, become very sick and lost fingers and limbs. In Australia, we have work health and safety laws and obligations that businesses and organisations must abide by. We must provide safe environments for people to work in and visit, and to do that we need to be mindful of the 5 levels of control. They are…
1st: Eliminate the risk (Highest level of control)
If possible, eliminate the hazard or cause of risk.
If possible, substitute with a safer alternative.
3rd: Engineered Controls
If possible, make or introduce something completely new to control the risks.
4th: Administrative Controls
If possible, improve the signage, training, instructions or safe operating procedures to control the risks.
5th: Personal Protection Equipment (Lowest/Last level of control)
If risks or hazards are still present after Eliminating, Substituting, Engineered Controls and Administrative Controls are introduced, then effective Personal Protection Equipment must be used as the last measure of control.
When we applied these controls to the XO2 business in relation to HF along with one of our values which is to first do no harm, we could not continue in good conscience to supply products like Winsol Crystal Clear 550, Rust Remover Gel, Deoxall AF, Non Slip and others. We understand this has frustrated some of our clients but all we ask is that you see our heart. XO2 is all about making the places we work, stay, learn and heal cleaner, healthier and safer. We have to be true to who we are even if it means selling less product. We believe removing HF based products from our range is the right thing to do.
Some people will say, “wear gloves and goggles, and you’ll be right”. You’ll also hear some people say many of these products contain only a small amount of HF. Yes, that’s true but a 2%-3% solution can do untold damage to your short and long term health. The risk in our opinion is just not worth it. And remember that those people who say you’ll be ok aren’t the ones that will be using the product and usually have profit to gain if you believe their pitch.
“Shut up Chris, you don’t know what you’re talking about”
Before anyone starts writing me a nasty email hear me out... I respect everyone’s choice to use or not use HF. Go for it, if you choose. Maybe you’re a regular user and you’ve been ok so far. If you want to continue using HF based products for cleaning and surface treatments please keep two things in mind…
1. Ensure the risk is yours and yours alone. Expecting staff to take this risk without full knowledge is not fair and unsafe. Also, exposing the general public to possible exposure is very dangerous (eg. possible drips, spray and splashes falling from a high rise building having hard water stain removal done on external glass). It’s also very risky for your business or organisation from a liability standpoint.
2. If you use any Hydrofluoric Acid based product at any dilution make sure you are always carrying a tube of Calcium Gluconate to apply to any area of skin the may come into contact with the product. Regardless of whether you feel anything or not after exposure get to a hospital or get medical attention immediately.
I won’t use, recommend or sell any product for hard water mineral stain removal containing any amount of HF. To say this acid is extremely dangerous is an understatement. But don’t take it from me, do your own research. Our family company has been supplying cleaning chemicals since the 1960′s and hydrofluoric acid is by far the most dangerous ingredient we have ever dealt with. There are some very tragic stories associated with this acid.
Health and safety is so much more important than clean glass or restoring a stained surface. If you don’t use HF you’re not give up on your mineral stained glass. There are alternatives. They may not be as easy or quick but they work and the safety risks are more manageable.
Hydrofluoric Acid exposure will most of the time have immediate consequences but the full damage is not always immediate, sometimes the related health problems will happen over the years that follow. Many carpet cleaners who have used rust removal products containing HF this have lost fingers and experienced far worse. When this stuff enters your system it’s tuff to stop.
In most cases you can remove hard water stains with safer alternatives. The result will be affected by these 4 variables…
1. The type of glass
2. The severity and type of the mineral stain
3. The type and dilution mix of the product used
4. The patience, skill and thoroughness of the application process.
To achieve great results with hard water stain removal you need a high quality product and skillful application. One without the other will only sometimes be successful. And with practice and patience your results will also improve over time. The best remedy for hard water staining is not to let it happen in the first place. You can drastically reduce hard water staining with regular and effective glass maintenance. There are also some fantastic glass protection treatments and sealers that reduce hard water problems too.
We’d love to hear any tips or tricks you’ve found successful on hard water stain removal for windows and glass. And what’s your opinion of using Hydrofluoric Acid in cleaning? Get in touch with your thoughts, ideas experiences.
Feel free to call our customer care team on 1300 123 499 if you require any help or advice on safe and effective hard water stain removal for your facility. For more information you can also read our blog article, "Here's how to remove hard water mineral stains on windows and glass".
Have a great day.