How To Remove Dried Concrete From Hand Tools And Implements

If you are a contractor who works with a concrete pump truck, then you know that dried concrete is a frustrating reminder of why promptly cleaning tools is important. It can leave a hard-to-remove residue involving extensive hands-on labor; however, the task can be made a lot easier if the procedure below is followed. Here is how you can successfully remove dried concrete from your tools and implements:

Removing dried concrete from hand tools and implements – what you will need

  • 3-pound sledge hammer – sometimes called an engineer's hammer, this tool can be worked with one hand and is strong enough to knock-off bits of dried concrete.
  • Concrete chisel – this is a chisel made for breaking concrete, though a general masonry chisel will also suffice.
  • Hydrochloric acid – also labeled as muriatic acid, this is available from home improvement and hardware stores as concrete etching solution. It can also be found at swimming pool supply stores where it is sold as an additive for lowering water pH.
  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Water hose with spray nozzle attachment
  • Eye protection
  • Rubber gloves
  • Wooden dowel
  • Wire brush

Removing dried concrete from hand tools and implements – step-by-step procedure

1. Prepare to work safely – before beginning, it's important to prepare for safety. The job of removing dried concrete entails working with potentially-hazardous chemicals as well as fragments of flying concrete. Below are a few rules that will help protect you from injury:

  • Always wear eye protection – hydrochloric acid can permanently blind you should it splash into your eyes. In addition, wayward concrete fragments can also cause eye injuries. Be sure your eye protection is ANSI-rated and appropriate for the task.
  • Pour acid into water – remember, acid should be poured into water, never vice-versa. Pouring water into acid can cause it to splash out of the container.
  • Wear hand protection – you need to wear a sturdy pair of rubber gloves while working with hydrochloric acid. Cotton gloves can be disintegrated within seconds and provide no protection for your hands.

2. Remove large pieces of dried concrete – hold the tool or implement firmly in one hand, and strike large pieces of concrete sharply with the 3-pound sledge hammer. Don't fasten the tool in a vise, or you may dent the metal or cause warping.

3. Use a concrete chisel to remove smaller pieces – the chisel is effective for removing dried chunks of concrete that are smaller in size and won't come loose with hammer blows. Lay the tool or implement on a firm surface, and position the chisel at a low angle to the surface of the tool near the edge of the concrete. Strike the chisel head with your hammer so that it produces a glancing blow across the surface of the tool; be careful not to drive the chisel into the metal itself. Mechanically remove as much material as you can before moving to the following steps.

4. Prepare the concrete cleaning solution – fill a five-gallon plastic bucket with 3 gallons of tap water, and add two cups of hydrochloric acid to the water. Thoroughly stir the solution with a wooden dowel until the acid and water are evenly mixed.

5. Insert the tool or implement into the solution – being careful not to splash, insert the tool into the solution so the dried concrete is completely submerged. If there are non-metallic parts of the tool, such as handles, that will be exposed to the acid, remove them ahead of time if possible. Allow the tool to soak for about 15 minutes before moving to step 6.

6. Wash away the concrete residue – carefully remove the tool from the concrete cleaning solution, and set it down on the ground away from anything that can be damaged by acid. Spray the tool with a high-pressure stream of water from a hose, or use a pressure washer if it is available. Scrub the tool with a wire brush in conjunction with spraying to remove stubborn areas. If there are still bits of concrete residue remaining after rinsing and scrubbing, place the tool back into the cleaning solution for another 15 minutes. Repeat the rinsing and scrubbing sequence until the item is clean.