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Dissolving Hard Drives in Hydrocloric Acid Part 1

Posted on 30 August 2012 by Total Secure Shredding

Howdy Folks,

A few months ago I got an email from Christian that went into great detail about how to dissolve hard drives in Hydrochloric Acid.

I for one think shredding hard drives and then recycling the materials is a much better way to go, but in any event, if you’re interested messing around with acid, here’s how you go about doing it.

Disclaimer: I don’t recommend doing this and I hope that by posting this, and by showing the potential dander, nobody will give it a try. As you’ll read, you need to Personal Protective Gear and you will be producing extremely hazardous Hydrogen gas. Not to mention dealing with a highly corrosive chemical.

Side Note: FYI… Shredding hard drives doesn’t required Personal Protective Gear, doesn’t great Hydrogen Gas, and doesn’t involve the handling of corrosive chemicals.

But on with the show…

Greetings.

I am writing with a few comments and observations on dissolving hard drives in HCL or hydrochloric acid.

First of all, the stuff is relatively easy to find.  Any Lowes, Home Depot, garden/pool/spa/home improvement store should carry it in quarts, half or whole gallons.  You might also want to ask for muriatic acid, which is the same thing.  The best thing to buy would naturally be the most concentrated, which they usually sell at between 30 and 32% or so.

Granted, you want to be damned careful with the stuff [my emphasis added], as I can say from experience that it burns like hell if the concentrated acid gets on your skin, especially if you have a cut…  Anyway, you don’t need a space suit to handle it.

Though I have never destroyed a hard drive with it, here is what I would do, based on my knowledge of and experience with this corrosive substance.

FYI, you can also find similar info on line, though perhaps not as detailed.  If you destroy a hard drive in acid, I’d recommend putting the drive in something either heavy duty plastic, or glass if you have a jar that big.  The reaction will cause a certain amount of heat as the acid reacts with the metals and creates hydrogen gas, and you don’t want your vessel melting on you, for obvious reasons.

You will also want to perform this exercise in either an outdoor or very open or well ventilated indoor environment.

The first thing to do is put on protective clothing, namely long sleeves, rubber/plastic gloves and a respirator, if you actually have one.  If not, take a big breath like you would if diving underwater, look away from the container and open the acid bottle.  If possible, hold the breath while pouring the acid into the container.  If not, breathe with the mouth away from the container of acid, as the fumes smell god awful and will irritate in small amounts.

I would recommend putting the drive in the container BEFORE the acid to reduce the possibility of spillage.  Anyway, once you’ve got your drive in a jar and are pouring the acid, it would be best to not get your face or body over the container in case the reaction is more violent than expected, which acid reactions can be at times.  Fill the jar enough to cover the drive with a bit to spare, and let sit for a few hours.  I’d say leave overnight, but one should probably watch this stuff and not let it sit.

I would NOT recommend closing the jar or container, as the reaction will produce highly flammable and potentially explosive hydrogen gas, the same thing that blew up the Hindenburg.

You can either wait for the acid to eat into the drive casing and begin corroding the platters, or you could do what I will do when the time comes.  Open the drive by removing the screws and/or rivets in the case itself, leaving the platters exposed and ready to be eaten by hungry acid.

Anyway, that’s my two cents or so on destroying hard drives with acid.  Have fun, stay safe and be well.

Very Exciting Indeed!

Again, I highly don’t recommend doing this unless you have extensive experience doing this sort of thing. After all, I don’t know who Christian really is so he may be an experienced chemist or a complete psychopath.

In Part II of this experiment, Christian fills us in on how to dispose of what remains after the hard drive is dissolved.

Talk to you then… Your friend,

Mike
Head Shredding Guy

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