What Are the Different Uses of Calcium Chloride?

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  • Written By: Drue Tibbits
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2017
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Calcium chloride is a type of salt derived from limestone. It is also produced as a byproduct of the ammonia-soda process of making soda ash. This type of salt has several properties that make it useful in commercial, industrial, and medical applications. The compound prevents water from freezing, absorbs moisture from the air, and generates heat when wet. Its medical uses include treatment for calcium disorders, certain heart conditions, and toxicity issues.

Roads are often treated with calcium chloride during freezing conditions. It keeps roads free from ice by melting existing ice and lowering the freezing point of water. The compound is also applied to unpaved roads to prevent dusty conditions. It does this by absorbing water from the air, keeping a thin layer on top of the road moist. Other commercial applications include adding it to concrete to speed up curing time and using it as a packaging desiccant to prevent moisture from harming delicate electronics.

Patients with magnesium intoxication or calcium channel blocker toxicity are treated with intravenous injections of calcium chloride. In some cases, the compound is used for emergency cardiac resuscitation. It is also used to treat hypocalcaemia, a medical condition that sometimes requires an emergency infusion of the compound.

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Calcium chloride is found in many foods. It is used to add a salty taste to pickles without raising sodium levels. Canned foods, such as green beans, retain their firmness when treated with the salt. It is added to many sports drinks to help athletes maintain their electrolyte balance. Some cheeses are made by first adding the compound to milk or milk products.

Many products that control moisture in closets and basements use calcium chloride as the main desiccant. Portable hand warmer packs and heating pads utilize the compound’s ability to generate heat when moistened. Fabric softeners often use the compound to improve the liquid’s viscosity because it absorbs water and holds it in suspension. It is a salt mineral and is used in swimming pool maintenance to increase the hardness of the water.

Marine aquariums use calcium chloride to increase the calcium content of the water. Certain marine animals, such as mollusks, require water with extra dissolved calcium to maintain health. Tires are sometimes weighted with the compound. It is mixed with water and injected into the air space of the tires. This adds extra weight and drag to the tires while preventing the water from freezing and damaging them.

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seag47
Post 4

I recently started drinking sports drinks. I have begun taking a diuretic to treat my kidney condition, and my doctor told me that it was important for me to keep enough electrolytes in my system.

I eat bananas, which are rich in potassium, and this helps. However, I have to drink a lot of fluids to keep from getting dehydrated, so I needed a drink that could help me maintain my balance.

I keep a case of berry-flavored sports drinks in my kitchen. Whenever I'm feeling weak or thirsty for something besides water, I drink a bottle. I have noticed that I feel more energized afterward.

orangey03
Post 3

@kylee07drg – I live out in the country, so whenever we get a big snowfall, I'm usually trapped in my house. The county reserves its calcium chloride for major highways, and we who live on county roads just have to tough it out.

However, last year, I had to go to the hospital on a snowy day. My sister was having her baby, and I could not miss it.

I traveled slowly and carefully on my road until I reached the highway. The road was packed in inches of ice, and the ruts made by previous cars were the only thing that kept me in a straight line.

That's why I was so surprised to see the highway so clear! It amazes me how quickly calcium chloride makes ice melt. I had no trouble driving down the road, and stray snowdrifts blowing across from the sides of the highway were the only bits of snow that touched the pavement.

kylee07drg
Post 2

Where I live, we rarely get snow and ice, but when it has been predicted, the county always sends out trucks to apply calcium chloride to bridges. Even if I haven't been watching the weather forecast, I know that snow is on its way when I see the stuff on the overpasses.

Last year, we had an extraordinary amount of snowfall. I left work early to drive home before it got too bad, but it was falling so fast that by the time I had scraped my windshield clean, it was covered again.

I had to drive 20 mph for the thirty mile commute. Because of the calcium chloride, the bridges were actually the safest part of the drive. They had very little snow on them, and none of it had turned to slush because of the lowered melting point.

lighth0se33
Post 1

I always wondered how canned green beans kept from turning into mush. I didn't know that they were treated with calcium chloride!

If it does the same thing that it does to kept unpaved roads from being dusty, I suppose that it absorbs and locks in a thin layer of moisture and somehow prevents any excess water from entering the beans.

When I open a can of cut green beans, I find that they are nice and plump and not disintegrating at all. The texture is way more appetizing to me than those thinly sliced beans meant to be stringy and soft. I am glad that calcium chloride is used to protect them.

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