Winter seems to be winding down and the spring weather is moving in. Not only did this year's record-breaking snowfall leave a mark on many of us, but it's also probably left a mark on your home's brick facade -- in the form of salt stains.
has been used for a long time to melt ice and snow because it lowers the melting or freezing point of water. It works wonders, but it also leaves behind a chalk-like residue on stone and brick. Another very common cause of salt stains on brickwork is called efflorescence
, which occurs when moisture gets into the brick and the water soluble salts in the brick begin to leach out.
There are two ways to approach cleaning the salt stains off your brickwork: the fast way
and the natural way
The Fast Way: Muriatic Acid
is an aqueous solution of hydrogen chloride gas that is highly corrosive. It is typically used in masonry for cleaning all kinds of stones and brick. When using this chemical, you will want to wear protective eyewear, gloves and thick clothing. You will also need to water it down a bit to help minimize brick damage. Start with a 1:15 ratio of muriatic acid to water, and if you're still seeing some stains, try a 1:10 ratio. Be aware that muriatic acid is corrosive so some brick discoloration may occur.
Be sure to do a test are first to be sure that your brick will not have an adverse reaction to the acid. Dip a rigid brush
in the acid and scrub your brick in sections. Flush the area with water to remove all of the acid.
You can try a "greener" muriatic acid, such as Klean-Strip® Green™ Safer Muriatic Acid
, which claims to have 90% lower fumes than standard muriatic acid and is safer to use and store.
The Natural Way: Water
If you're worried about using a chemical on your brickwork, good old H2O will do the job, along with with some serious elbow grease and patience. Fill a bucket with water and get a stiff scrub brush. Dip the brush into the water and scrub one are of the brick in a circular motion. Go over the same area numerous times until all of the salt seems to have been removed. You may need to repeat this multiple times to completely remove all traces of the salt stains.
One thing you don't
want to do is use a pressure-washer; it could cause further efflorescence by forcing new moisture inside the bricks.