Removing Mortar From Old, Clay Bricks

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Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jun 17, 2023
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Detroit, MI
Hi All!

Many of the clay bricks on my house & planter have mortar on the faces. The mortar ranges from a light haze to up to 1/8" thick. The bricks are perhaps around 100 years old. (The house is 125+ years old, but I don't know when it was bricked.) The style is often called "Old Chicago".

I tried sulfamic acid tile cleaner on a test area of light haze & it didn't do anything.
The only other thing I can think of is what we used decades ago when I worked for a tile setter to remove grout haze from un-glazed tiles- 10 parts water to 1 part muriatic acid We'd wet the tiles, brush on the acid mix, wait until foaming stopped & scrub with a stiff bristle brush. A water rinse, then baking soda & water rinse followed with a final rinse after than.

What I'm writing to ask is:
Is there a product that is safer for me and for the earth than muriatic acid?
Will the acid mix damage the clay bricks?

Thanks for sharing your knowledge!