Ferric chloride also known as iron III chloride is an inorganic compound that contains iron and chlorine. It can be used in various ways but is more popularly used as a water purifier. Ferric chloride makes water drinkable by riding it off any impurity, contamination, or harmful substances.
Given the tendency of this substance towards cleanliness, it will be almost impossible to think that they can be the source of uncleanness. Sounds almost self-contradictory right? Well, that’s true!
When ferric chloride comes in contact with the skin or any other surfaces, it can stain them. Ferric chloride stain is difficult to clean and won’t come off easily. This is why I have decided to write an article about how to remove ferric chloride stains.
What makes up ferric chloride
Ferric chloride is made up of Iron, ferrous chloride, nitric acid, ferric oxide, act iron and chlorine gas, hydrochloric acid, and water.
What color is iron chloride
The color of iron II chloride is white, while in some cases, the typical sample of the compound may be off-white.
On the other hand, the color of iron III chlorides depends on the angle it is being viewed from. If displayed under reflected light, this crystal may appear dark green, however, if viewed under transmitted light, it may appear purple-red.
Is ferric chloride harmful to the skin
Yes, ferric chloride is harmful to the skin. Ferric chloride is a corrosive substance and can cause both skin and eye irritation.
The underlying health issues relating to ferric chloride are not only limited to skin or eye irritation alone. It is also known to cause other acute health problems to like; hypertension, stomach pain, diarrhea, lethargy, dilated pupils, fever, difficulty in breathing, and death.
What happens if you get ferric chloride on the skin
Ferric chloride is highly toxic and it’s the last thing you would want to come in contact with your skin or any part of your body because of its burning effect.
If ferric chloride in its liquid or vapor form should accidentally come in contact with the skin, it can cause serious injury and in some extreme cases, death.
Ferric chloride is dangerous and must be avoided at all costs if you are not a professional chemist or do not have knowledge about the composition of the chemical.
If you can’t avoid this highly corrosive substance in your line of work, you should ensure that you protect your eyes, nose, and every other sensitive organ of your body that is likely to be directly exposed to the chemical.
You can protect yourself by taking any of the following precautionary measures.
Protecting the eyes
Before you start using the chemical, ensure that you are wearing a splash repellant google or protective glasses with shielded sides. If the chemical is to be sprayed or splashed, you must wear a full face protector and make sure that an eyewash fountain is readily available.
Protecting the Respiratory system
Make sure the area or space you are about to use ferric chloride is well ventilated to help keep chemical vapor below the standard exposure threshold. And also, ensure that you wear a respirator with an in-built dust/vapor cartridge recommended by the national institute for occupational safety and health (NIOSH) if you are likely to be exposed to dust/vapor if you are carrying out your experiment in a confined place.
Protecting the skin
Wear protective gloves, jackets, boots, apron, hood, pants that cannot be directly affected by the chemical. Ensure that a safe shower with a quick and easy-to-use valve is readily available. Also, to prevent the water from freezing up during cold seasons, ensure the water is distributed through insulated pipes.
What is the difference between ferrous chloride and ferric chloride?
Ferrous chloride and ferric chloride may have some similarities, for example, they are both used as a purifying agent. But they are different in some ways. Highlighted below are the differences between the two substances.
- The oxidation state of the Fe atom present in ferrous chloride is +2 while the oxidation state of the Fe atom present in ferric chloride is +3.
- Ferrous chloride has a tan-like coloration while the color of ferric chloride is determined by light projection.
- Ferrous chloride exists majorly in two forms; dihydrated and tetrahydrate form. While Ferric chloride on the other hand exists majorly in four forms; FeCI3.6H2O, FeCI3.2.5H2O, FeCI3.2H2O, and FeCI3.3.5H2O.
- Ferrous chloride is prepared by refining steel production waste using HCI acid. While Ferric chloride is prepared by mixing the resultant element where iron is reacted with chlorine gas.
Does Ferric chloride dissolve in water
Yes, Ferric chloride dissolves in water. When you dissolve ferric chloride in water, the solution becomes concentrated acid because of hydrolysis.
What happens when ferric chloride is added to water
Ferric chloride is commonly referred to as flocculant and is used for sewage treatment and also in the production of drinking water. When you add ferric chloride even in the slightest quantity to raw water, the iron(III) hydroxide precipitates and takes in finely divided solids and colloids.
Does Ferric chloride lower pH
Yes, Ferric chloride lower pH. Even if you add a drop of ferric chloride to a system pH, it will drastically reduce the pH level to the extent that you may require a base like the caustic soda to increase the level of the pH back to neutral to meet the standard pH.
What can I use to remove Ferric chloride stain from the skin
Fortunately, removing ferric chloride stain from the skin is not so difficult. Just ensure that you wash the affected spot immediately with lots of water.
And after wash, you can still have some traces on your skin, you can try again with soap and water.
How to clean ferric chloride
Ferric chloride is not a regular stain, so you are going to need a strong cleaning solution or powder if you want to completely get rid of it. Series of encounters on the internet has made me realize that our regular super effective home-based cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, and isopropyl alcohol are not a match for this tough substance.
The best way to clean ferric chloride is to use Ferric chloride stain remover.
How to remove ferric chloride from clothing using a ferric chloride stain remover
- Pour the ferric stain remover powder generously on the cloth and spread so that it can cover all affected areas.
- Scrub the affected areas as gently as you can with a wet towel or sponge.
- Once the stain is completely gone, rinse and wash the cloth the normal way and dry.
Ferric Chloride stain remover is highly corrosive and can affect open wounds and cut. Therefore, you must wear protective gloves and glasses to protect against burning.
It is also important to rinse clothes or any other items/equipment treated rigorously and machine/hand washed before wearing.
How to remove ferric chloride stains from cloth
If you have ferric chloride stains on your clothing fabric, one of the best ways you can deal with the stains is by applying citric acid. Read the instructions below for guidance on how it can be effectively used.
- Make a solution from the mixtures of citric acid and water and pour it into a spray bottle.
- Leave the solution on the stain for about 30 minutes.
- Rinse the treated spot with water and wash the cloth in the normal way.
How to clean ferric chloride stains from concrete
With the simple steps below, you can easily get rid of Ferric chloride stains from concrete. Keep reading for details.
- Make a solution from the mixtures of Oxalic acid and water and pour it into a spray bottle.
- Spray the liquid generously on the stained spot and leave it for just a few hours.
- Scrub the treated spot as gently as you can until the stain is completely gone.
Rinse the treated spot thoroughly with cold water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Ferric iron dangerous?
Yes, Ferric iron is dangerous. Although there are some benefits associated with using ferric iron, however, if used, and causes an overload of iron in the body, it could lead to diabetes, nausea, stomach ache, and hemochromatosis. And in some severe cases, it could lead to damage to the liver, pancreas, and heart.
Does baking soda neutralize ferric chloride?
Yes, baking soda can be used to neutralize ferric chloride. Although during the process of etching whether a steel Damascus or a pan, it is often suggested that you make use of Trisodium phosphate to neutralize ferric chloride.
However, in the absence of this inorganic compound, you can make use of baking soda. This is because ferric chloride is a salt, and the best way to neutralize the salt is with a base, not an acid. This is where baking soda comes into the equation, it is a base, making it a perfect alternative.
What can be used instead of ferric chloride?
The best substitute for ferric chloride is aluminium and iron salt such as ferric sulfate and sodium aluminate also known as alum. However, working with these inorganic compounds does not guarantee 100% results.
What is the action of litmus on ferric chloride solution and why
Litmus as a substance is used to differentiate between acidic and base solutions. This substance exists in 2 colors, red and blue. Also, it exists in two forms, paper, and solution. When in basic solution, the blue litmus will remain unchanged, however, when in acidic solution, it changes to red.
Ferric chloride on the other hand is an acidic solution, which is formed as a result of the interaction between a weak base (iron oxide) and concentrated or strong acid (hydrochloric acid). Therefore, since ferric chloride is acidic, the color of the blue litmus will change to red when it is introduced into a ferric chloride solution.
Will Ferric chloride etch stainless steel?
Yes, Ferric chloride can be used to etch stainless steel. In the field of chemical etching, one of the most popularly used etchants is Ferric chloride.
Ordinarily, ferric chloride is usually mixed with water in equal proportions to create hydrochloric acid in the solution. Although, it is commonly used in steel etching, however, it can also be used to etch stainless steel. Compared to pure acid, it can also be used on a wide range of resist materials; albeit this may come with a consequence if not appropriately attended to — it can pit the surface.
Why is ferric chloride preferred over potassium?
The most simple answer to this is to prevent bleeding. Another reason for the preferential treatment is that compared to potassium, ferric acid is more compatible with the skin, and therefore, it is less likely to irritate when applied to a cut.