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PH up and down spill help need advice

hydroguy27

New Member
Hey guys so ive really been a lurker on this site for some time andhave really appreciated the work of Mr.Smith, 420fied(Koolkat), and Propagator, and until now I have been doing great with my bubble buckets and my hempys. So this is my problem, and its pretty fucked.

I had both Ph up and down on a counter in my grow room, and they both ended up getting knocked over together somehow..... and it was a week or 2 before i realized they were knocked over, ( I dont use them that much) In that time they had both leaked out. I also noticed that the ph spill dried, burnt the countertop, and left behind a crystal residue, and a pretty good amount of it was on top of the counter. I also realized that 3 fans I have in the grow room and the Ac had been on the entire time. I figured the dust/ crystal residue from the dried ph spill must have been blown around the room, and after getting a flashlight i realized the ph crystals on the counter sparkled in the light, and all 4 walls of the grow room were also lightly sparking as if the crystal did in fact get blown all around.

this is when i started freaking out. just to be sure I went to another room in the house and shined the light and there was no sparkle. It almost looks like glitter. So im 99% sure the Ph up and down spilled and then dried and the crystals got blown around the growroom in the fans.

How bad do you guys think this is? I was really debating weather or not to call in a hazmat team, and kept reminding myself its only plant fertilizers and it cant be that bad, but after reading about what is in ph up and down it is really volatile stuff and Honestly im a bit terrified. Has this happened to anyone else? Should i Call in a hazmat crew? for now i read that both ph up and down can be neutralized with baking soda, so i tore the counter out of the room, got rid of all my grow equipment ): , dropped the ac unit out of the window and got everything out the room, then got a 4 pound box of baking soda and spread it on the walls and floors, and with eye goggles and a bandana ive been washing the walls with a garden hose trying to get this stuff out and out of my house. Am i overrreacting or is this the real deal bc im freaking out. Its general hydroponics ph up and down. someone please give me some info
 

upinsmoke365

Well-Known Member
Just clean it up. I wouldn't worry to much. Check your runoff pH next time you water to be certain. Maybe spray the leafs down before lights out.
 

hydroguy27

New Member
i did spray the leaves down and tried to clean for 6 hours. i hosed down the 4 walls, ceiling and floor room 3 times and mopped it up, but some areas of the walls still have a faint sparkle, and so did all my equipment which I put outside for now. After i sprayed the leaves down they no longer sparkled. So i know this crystal got just about everywhere. Making me think my lungs could be all fucked up bc it was in the air. Do you think the lights and fans are still safe to use? I have almost commited to trashing everything and starting over and washing down the entire house with the house just to make sure. I think the sparkle could be potassium silica bc its the only ingredient in ph up and down that isnt completely soluble in water. still kinda freakin out...
 

Dwight Monk

420 Support
420 Staff
Do a web search for:

general hydroponics ph up MSDS

That will pull up the Material Safety Data Sheet, should have a phone number there if you don't find the info you need far as what to do/not to do with it.
 

hydroguy27

New Member
i have looked at the msds of both ph up and ph down, since they spilled and dried together. From looking at both msds, i got the idea to flush the room with water and baking soda, but there is no information on the drying crystals becoming airbound and spread around the room...other than to call authorities and a chemical crew for large spills, which i am really trying to avoid.
 

hydroguy27

New Member
its complicated bc both ph up and ph down were spilled and dried into a crystal in a room with alot of airflow, and the closest thing the msds says about that is to call chemtrec.
 

TorturedSoul

Member of the Month: May 2009, Oct 2010, Sept 2017
I wouldn't worry about it too much. I mean... I wouldn't lick the walls or anything. But I'd just clean it. At the end of this grow, you can clean/prep/prime/paint the walls, but that's a good idea to do every few years (at least), anyway.

Might want to take the plants into the kitchen sink and hose them off a little if you're worried about it, I suppose. Are they still in the vegetative phase?
 

hydroguy27

New Member
i have hps and mh lights, so i always run fans and have Ac, im more worried about the crystal that is leftover blowing around and getting in eyes or lungs when i work in there. I had some ph up splash in my eye before this and went to the ER, now I am terrified of the stuff and I am going to be going all organic after this. Just finished my last rdwc grow, so I had 2 mama plants and 15 clones in the aerocloner in my grow room, and i moved everything out of the growroom (everything) except the aerocloner because i dont want to disturb the rooting process. Rinsed the walls with the hose....but there still seems to be some faint crystal residue left. I moved the mamas to my bathtub and rinsed them off in there. I guess i shouldnt worry but i feel like i am under reacting and should have called the hazmat when everyone else thinks i am overreacting. what do you think?

ps After doing research on the msds of both ph up and ph down, it seems all the ingredients in both should be easily water soluble, so even if the crystals were dried out and exposed to the air they should be washed away with water right? the only exception is the potassium silica in ph up which does not mix well with water....it also is known to form a glass film when dried....at least thats what the msds of potassium silica alone says. So after washing the walls and seeing the crystal still there, and knowing potassium silica is the only ingredient which does not mix with water and is known to form a glass film im guessing whats left on the wall is the silica, but really it could be anyone of the chemicals. not sure how that information would help but ive been reading alot on these chemicals while trying to formulate what to do. So my next question would be, taking all that into consideration, is calling a hazmat team is deffinately an overeaction? bc in theory this shit can burn your eyes and fuck up your lungs
 

Dwight Monk

420 Support
420 Staff
MSDS definition of a large spill is like over 50 gallons from what I recall for many chemicals, you have to think in an industrial type setting as what these pertain to but they are required to have a MSDS for any chemical including over the counter household stuff, and even things you don't consider a chemical as we had one for Sawdust at the Lumber Mill along with stuff like WD-40 and everything else under the sun. Another place I worked we manipulated the PH on the Pulp (recycled paper) raise it in order for it to break down faster and then lower it so the pulp particles attract to one another to reform better, so we would go up to a 12PH and bring it back down to under a 5PH (depended on type of pulp, or recycled paper that was used) so we used things like Caustic and Sulfuric Acid to adjust the PH, a lot nastier stuff than you can get over the counter.
Was for your information and anyone else that wandered in that it is best to check the MSDS before you try and clean it up, as some things have chemical reactions with other things (including water even), and you can take something not good and make it really bad in a hurry as a lot of things you have no idea what is in them far as ingredients go.
 

hydroguy27

New Member
Good info Dwight, I feel like my only chance at tackling this successfully was reading over the msds of both pH up and down, something I learned from working different jobs and watching endless training videos about safety data sheets and their importance. I also made sure to do all this reading before i started my cleanup, and decided upon baking soda and water as the ultimate solution to the research. I didnt explain this very well in my first post. I spent time studying the msds of Ph up and Ph down as well as the sds of their individual chemicals, potassium carbonate, potassium silica, and phosphoric acid.

The instruction for ALL of the these chemicals on their msds was to flush with water and mop up, and the phosphoric acid had an emphasis on neutralization . So knowing there was potentially acid crystals and alkaline crystals together, I choose baking soda to throw over the floor and walls to neutralize the acid, and then flushed heavily with water(garden hose) to dilute any other crystals. Baking soda also does Not have a violent reaction with potassium carbonate as sometimes they are mixed together in store bought baking soda, so i felt a water flush with baking soda was my best option considering the msds and mix of chemicals. Even the silicate, which is harder to dissolve in water, had cleanup instructions of flushing with water. Also Dwight, I read a large msds spill could be anything over 500 Ml ( less then 2/10th of a gallon) but I could be wrong, and am sure it varies depending on the chemical and setting. and you are definitely right, these Ph chemicals are mild when compared to sulfuric acid.

However, After reading about each individual chemical and finding out every single chemical in these products has the potential to burn your eyes out, destroy your lungs, and kill in HIGH doses, I cant help feeling like there are better ph alternatives, and am genuienly freaked out seeing these chemicals plastered across the walls and grow equipment. Even after flushing and drying the room with a garden hose 4 times I can still see the shiny crystals in very small amounts. Guess ill just keep washing and mopping in the morning. Probably gonna call general hydroponics in the morning and see what they have to say....but to those telling me not to worry I really hope your right i just cant help thinking how terrible this could be, and how it could potentially be tracked around my house after this long time period of exposure.
 

Dwight Monk

420 Support
420 Staff
For sure size of spill would vary on the chemical, but IMHO not enough to go thru the headache of bringing in the "authorities". For sure start with calling GH and go from there. We had a Rozinsize tank break and it spilled about 50 gallons of it, which was a sticky mess we had to clean up but it wasn't enough to bring in outside govt spill team and we were allowed to clean it up at work ourselves (spent a few days on that mess, it was nasty :19: but still better than when I got sprayed with diluted caustic as that wasn't any fun ;) ).
 

Dwight Monk

420 Support
420 Staff
And I didn't mean to imply you didn't check MSDS first, just too many folks don't use the tools one is given like that and there is so much incorrect information out there in the world/net "my friends brothers uncle used ____" stuff, which is where folks have a problem and make it bigger (same as mechanics/contractors love folks that try to DIY things that are way over their head, as they end up getting paid to un-screw the problem and then fix it right ;) :19: ). So was just a FYI for folks that all chemicals have to have a MSDS either with the product or a web address/phone number at a minimum on the bottle/package.

I keep my chemicals in a rubber maid type tote thingy, that way you have a containment vessel and if they leak it is easier to clean the container or dispose of depending on what it is and how bad. As it goes beyond just containing it as it has a lid (I bought one of the ones that have a seal on lid, so you wouldn't have the problem of it drifting in the wind to your walls etc... if something like that were to happen).
 

hydroguy27

New Member
Holy shit you had it clean up a 50 gallon spill pH up? That sounds absolutely fucked. So even after a few days of cleaning there was no worry of airbound crystal contamination? Because thats whats got me so worried, only because it sat around for 2 weeks with fans and ac going.

Checking the msds of the chemicals is really what got me so freaked out, seeing as how dangerous they really are, and how they all look the same ( white crystal).... any one or combination of could have been blown around the room after the solutions dried, but it did help me figure out what to do and stay away from the friends brothers uncles bullshit method that could hurt me. Not surprisingly Ive done alot of research and this has not happened to anyone else. Some guy spilt bleach in his Ph bottle ( cant remember if it up or down) and it sounded like it gave off a toxic fume that killed most of his plants, so at least that didnt happen.

I called and talked to John, one of the managers at general hydroponics and he said I should be fine. I explained the entire sitation, He said something like their ph up and down werent very concentrated and that there have been spills in stores and in shipping and they have been cleaned fine with no problems. I told him about how they spilled together and dried to a shimmering crystal, burnt the fuck out of the counter, and were left for a couple weeks, and then about the fans and the shimmer, and he said it shouldn't be harmful and to just wipe everything down. Even told him how i washed the walls with a garden hose 4-5 times and the shimmer was still there but he assured me that it should not be harmful and after a cleanup of the bottles and the inital spill I should be fine, and there was definately no reason to call chemtrec or a cleanup crew, ( the other number on the msds).

So after washing the walls down, I can still see a noticeable sparkle so im still pretty skeptical. Can't help but say this is all total bullshit. Guess ill just keep washing the walls. I know this leftover chemical from this shit cannot be safe so i still have splash goggles a banada and gloves on, ill let you know how it goes.
 

Dwight Monk

420 Support
420 Staff
It wasn't a PH up as we used Caustic or Soda Ash, it's was like a resin used in making paper sticky nasty stuff like tree sap only more of a viscosity to it like oil. It was one of those fun times at the plant kind of thing ;) don't miss it a lot but do miss the people I worked with.
 

hydroguy27

New Member
I think I may have figured out the answer to my problem, its one word really. Efflorescence.
This might get a little complicated so bear with me. Efflorescence has alot to do with concrete but also is my golden answer to this mess. Efflorescense is when certain chemicals, mainly hydroxides of potassium (the makeup of Ph up) make their way in a liquid form to the surface of concrete and then dry out to form a coating. When these chemicals come into contact with air, its not good because the longer they are exposed to air the more insoluble in water they become. This mostly happens in concrete when these chemicals make their way to the surface,they dry out, form a nasty film which ruins concrete, and becomes insoluble in water. This stains concrete and becomes a bitch to clean up. So what does that have to do with ph up and down and airbound chemicals? well the main ingredients in pH up are potassium hydroxide and potassium silicate, known chemicals to have efflorescent properties. So the longer the dried crystals are exposed to air the more insoluble in water they became, meaning with time they become almost completely unwilling to dissolve in water. Potassium silica is even known to form glass films when dried out that could easily cut skin. Meaning the drying of these chemicals in ph up is BAD.

So if you have been following along with the misguided adventures of hydroguy you would know I became stumped in my last post. After the Ph up and down both spilled they dried to form a crystal, which was left around to solidify and get blown around in my fans in the air for over 2 weeks A dumb move I know but i found out how to keep my pH perfect so i had no need to go to that side of the grow room. This gave the crystals plenty of time to become insoluble in water due to the chemical reaction with air through efflorescence. The crystals left behind because of the spill shined in the light, and i noticed the rest of the room and equipment also shined. It appeared as if covered in a light glitter, or shiny sand or dirt of extremely small particles. The rest of the room had a shine in the same way, walls and ceiling, leading me to find the crystals blew around the room in the 3 fans I have to cool my hps.

when I cleaned up I flooded the ceiling, walls, and floor, with water to dilute the crystals, as this is the prescribed method in the msds of these chemicals. But i found that some of the chemicals stuck around in a shiny salt like form that appeared like glitter on the walls and ceiling that would not wash off. The more I washed the less of it there was, but after 2 days of washing it was still noticeable to me and became clear it wasn't coming off, and I dont want chemicals on the walls so im getting it the fuck off and out of my house no matter what.This mindset led me to do more research even though I felt like I had read every possible thing about this and the only course of action was to burn the house down. But I found out about efflorescence, which explains why the chemicals wont wash off the walls and they continue to shine.

So the solution to efflorescence is actually quite fitting and i see it as a bit ironic. It is stated that an acid wash is necessary, chemically an acid would neutralize any chemical in Ph up, and then a wash in baking soda, which chemically would neutalize any and all chemicals in ph down. But im sick of chemicals and id rather burn the house down than acid wash it, so im going to use vinegar as my acid. Safe enough. I bought spray bottles at the DG and am going to spray the room down with vinegar, which is also an accepted well cleaner for painters, I had no idea. After this and a quick mop of the walls and ceiling, I will do the same with a baking soda solution out of the spray bottles. This in turn should take care of the shining efflorescence , neutralize any chemical in Ph up, neutralize any chemical in ph down, and since both vinegar and baking soda are household cleaners, my house is going to become very clean. Its almost as if god is bullying me to make my house absolutely spotless, spraying with vinegar and baking soda, and a garden hose, and all this stress was some kind of terrible karma cleansing experience, but who fucking knows right.

This is my take after probably a week of straight research on this fucked up situation and hopefully i help out someone who may have split these chemicals, and also just maybe you guys should check out your grow rooms with flashlights and look for the shimmering crystals from some ph chemicals you might have spilled. No one seemed to think this crystal film was dangerous, not even john, the manager at GH seemed to think it would hurt. but i have to disagree, since a hydroxide and silicate efflorescent film on the walls sounds absolutely fucked. I find it irritating how nothing on efflorescence is mentioned in the msds of ph up and down, since im sure other spills have dried before. bunch of bullshit. Tomorrow I will try again to clean it, this time with vinegar and baking soda. Anyway I'll let you know how it goes.

If this doesn't work im burning the house down.
 

hydroguy27

New Member
I was dumb enough to bring these chemicals in my house and let them spill so im probably one of the few who has....but hopefully the vinegar and baking soda/acid and alkaline wash should get rid of it. I think it should work. fuck chemicals i should have listened to the BC bud farmers....no chemicals man...be here now man....lick the joint before you smoke it man...they were crazy out there but im not messing with chemicals after this no sir gotta figure out organic hydro now
 

TorturedSoul

Member of the Month: May 2009, Oct 2010, Sept 2017
Realistically, there isn't much danger, even if you were to move your bedroom into the grow room. The contents of the bottles were mostly water. After that evaporated, you're looking at very small amounts. Acute exposure to dangerous levels is immediately noticeable, and chronic exposure - which presumes far greater amounts and for hours at a time on a regular basis - risk is pretty much nil, too.

The LD50 for potassium carbonate is over a quarter pound.

Phosphoric acid can <BLEEP> your cookies up in high concentrations, lol - but, again, it's not a real concern in your situation. And its residue isn't "sparkly," it's white. Hmm... Come to think of it, so is potassium carbonate. Maybe you're seeing citric acid.

Or maybe the sparkly that you're seeing in your grow room is the usual sparkly that people see in a grow room, lol? Most of it will be attached to one's plants, but those plants do get disturbed from time to time. And there's usually a fan blowing them.

Just to be safe, you can avoid using chlorine bleach, because, well... chlorine. It can be released by one of the above substances (again, the amounts you'd be likely to encounter would make this a very small risk, but it's... well, just because your chances are less than winning the lottery whilst being struck by lightning, doesn't mean there's a zero chance).

Honestly, after thinking, researching, thinking, researching, thinking, remembering the chemistry classes from years ago, and thinking... My best, considered opinion is that if you're really paranoid, prime the walls and then apply two coats of paint. Use decent quality materials. I suggest the brightest flat white paint you can get, because it'll give you the best reflective characteristics - but if you'd like to add the ability to clean your walls, go with an eggshell or satin finish, both of which can be (reasonably gently) cleaned. Semi-gloss and gloss will stand up to more spirited cleaning, but are not optimum in terms of reflectivity.

You could always don a Tyvec suit, gloves, booties, and a mask, and go to town sanding the walls, but I wouldn't have any compunction about doing a normal amount of prep work before painting the room. Or no more than usual, I should say, lol.

If you have a significantly compromised respiratory system, have someone else paint it. And that goes for any room in your house, because the job wouldn't be doing you any favors if you can't breathe well on a good day. A little birdie told me that (many times).

The main issue you'd be likely to encounter with either of these products, both the liquid and dry forms that General Hydroponic sells, assuming you don't literally get forced to inhale, eat, or drink more than you could possibly inhale, eat, or drink on your own initiative... is having the outer layer of the skin that comes into contact with it get dried out. Like the "zero moisture dry" look. And that's a temporary thing. These aren't asbestos-level substances. In other words, you're not going to be around amounts that are too low to mess you up during the exposure and then end up getting cancer from it down the road. These are more along the lines of "Ouch, that's hot! Stand up from the stove, wait for the pain to go away, and decide never to press your ear against the hot skillet again." If that makes sense.

I'd say to use the "Dogsh!t Rule" - you know, pretend that, whatever it is, it's actually dried dog feces smeared all over the place. You don't want to touch it and you don't want to inhale the dried flakes, and you really don't want to clean it up on date night after you've already showered and put on your best suit - so take suitable precautions when cleaning it up." But people generally don't favor painting over animal feces, lol, and you can paint what you're looking at. Depending on the current color/composition of your wall (coating), your plants might end up thanking you for the extra light ;) .
 

hydroguy27

New Member
Realistically, there isn't much danger, even if you were to move your bedroom into the grow room. The contents of the bottles were mostly water. After that evaporated, you're looking at very small amounts. Acute exposure to dangerous levels is immediately noticeable, and chronic exposure - which presumes far greater amounts and for hours at a time on a regular basis - risk is pretty much nil, too.

The LD50 for potassium carbonate is over a quarter pound.

Phosphoric acid can <BLEEP> your cookies up in high concentrations, lol - but, again, it's not a real concern in your situation. And its residue isn't "sparkly," it's white. Hmm... Come to think of it, so is potassium carbonate. Maybe you're seeing citric acid.

Or maybe the sparkly that you're seeing in your grow room is the usual sparkly that people see in a grow room, lol? Most of it will be attached to one's plants, but those plants do get disturbed from time to time. And there's usually a fan blowing them.

Just to be safe, you can avoid using chlorine bleach, because, well... chlorine. It can be released by one of the above substances (again, the amounts you'd be likely to encounter would make this a very small risk, but it's... well, just because your chances are less than winning the lottery whilst being struck by lightning, doesn't mean there's a zero chance).

Honestly, after thinking, researching, thinking, researching, thinking, remembering the chemistry classes from years ago, and thinking... My best, considered opinion is that if you're really paranoid, prime the walls and then apply two coats of paint. Use decent quality materials. I suggest the brightest flat white paint you can get, because it'll give you the best reflective characteristics - but if you'd like to add the ability to clean your walls, go with an eggshell or satin finish, both of which can be (reasonably gently) cleaned. Semi-gloss and gloss will stand up to more spirited cleaning, but are not optimum in terms of reflectivity.

You could always don a Tyvec suit, gloves, booties, and a mask, and go to town sanding the walls, but I wouldn't have any compunction about doing a normal amount of prep work before painting the room. Or no more than usual, I should say, lol.

If you have a significantly compromised respiratory system, have someone else paint it. And that goes for any room in your house, because the job wouldn't be doing you any favors if you can't breathe well on a good day. A little birdie told me that (many times).

The main issue you'd be likely to encounter with either of these products, both the liquid and dry forms that General Hydroponic sells, assuming you don't literally get forced to inhale, eat, or drink more than you could possibly inhale, eat, or drink on your own initiative... is having the outer layer of the skin that comes into contact with it get dried out. Like the "zero moisture dry" look. And that's a temporary thing. These aren't asbestos-level substances. In other words, you're not going to be around amounts that are too low to mess you up during the exposure and then end up getting cancer from it down the road. These are more along the lines of "Ouch, that's hot! Stand up from the stove, wait for the pain to go away, and decide never to press your ear against the hot skillet again." If that makes sense.

I'd say to use the "Dogsh!t Rule" - you know, pretend that, whatever it is, it's actually dried dog feces smeared all over the place. You don't want to touch it and you don't want to inhale the dried flakes, and you really don't want to clean it up on date night after you've already showered and put on your best suit - so take suitable precautions when cleaning it up." But people generally don't favor painting over animal feces, lol, and you can paint what you're looking at. Depending on the current color/composition of your wall (coating), your plants might end up thanking you for the extra light ;) .


its good to hear that the exposure is probably next to nothing, but just to be sure im getting rid of it all. The few days After initial cleanup i felt some chest pain but was pretty sure it was all in my head. This got me really stressed out and thinking and overthinking. I really just want to be sure that any chance of this stuff getting in my eyes or lungs is gone, because i had some ph up splash up in my eye from the rez and that was not fun. Also want to make sure there is zero chance of breathing any more in, because you cant just wash it out like you could your skin or eyes. not worried about skin exposure bc its not that hardcore, but it can burn eyes and I never want to go though anything like that again. Not a single fucking crystal.

I would just paint over the walls now, but because of the efflorescence of these chemicals, they can make their way through concrete and show up on the outside of the wall. dunno how it would actually work in my situation but if it can makes it way through concrete.... paint wouldn't be a problem. Dont know if you saw my above post on efflorescence, but the sparkle is definitely a form of potassium. The other rooms and items in my house do not shimmer. my best guess is the potassium silica in pH up which is known to dry into a glass, and is known for being insoluble in water completely. These chemicals also become more insoluble in water the longer they are in contact with air. This matches the sparkling description and the stubborn insolubility in water. Hydroxides are known to be efflorescent, and since potassium silicate comes directly from potassium hydroxide it only makes sense that the sparkle IS potassium silicate or potassium hydroxide efflorescence.

So im going to do the typical efflorescent cleaning method, acid bath with a baking soda bath afterwards to neutralize the acid. The acid should take care of the silicate glass, i hope. vinegar (acid) and baking soda (base) which are also used by painters to clean walls, would ensure the chemicals are gone, neutralizing acids and bases. After that i could paint without worrying about the hydroxides and silicates bleeding through the paint, even though no one would notice except me, because its so faint already.

Tried just baking soda initially, and it worked on the floor (maybe because there was a 3 inch puddle in there a few times with baking soda in it before i mopped it all up, so that probably diluted it enough, perks of the garden hose) but i still see it on the walls and ceiling, so after taking into considering efflorescence im definitely introducing vinegar (acid), then flush, and then baking soda again and then flush it all out after with the hose.

This should work im trying it on my next round. Got my safety goggles and bandana and gloves.
 
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