Calcium chloride is a salt which consists of one calcium molecule and two chlorine molecules. Calcium chloride cannot be defined as an organic compound, as an organic carbon, by definition, must contain carbon. This is not to suggest that every carbon compound is organic. Calcium carbonate (CaCO3), for example, is inorganic, as is carbon dioxide (CO2). But methane (CH4) is organic, being the simplest member of a series of compounds (C2H6, C3H8, C4H10, and so on).

Calcium chloride can be produced directly from limestone, but large amounts are also produced as a byproduct of the Solvay process. The Solvay process, or ammonia-soda process, is the major industrial process for the production of soda ash (valued primarily for its content of sodium carbonate). The ammonia-soda process was developed into its modern form by Ernest Solvay in the 1860s. The ingredients for this process are readily available and inexpensive ingredients: salt brine (from inland sources or from the sea) and limestone (from mines).

The principal byproduct of the Solvay process is calcium chloride (CaCl2) in aqueous solution. The process has other waste and byproducts as well. Not all of the limestone that is calcined is converted to quicklime and carbon dioxide (in reaction II); the residual calcium carbonate and other components of the limestone become wastes. North American consumption in 2002 was 1,687,000 tons (3.7 billion pounds). The company OxyChem acquired the calcium chloride business division from The Dow Chemical Company in 2009. After acquiring the division from Dow Chemical, OxyChem became the world’s largest producer of calcium chloride. Their manufacturing facility in Michigan houses 35% of the total U.S. production capacity for calcium chloride.

Calcium chloride is an odorless substance that is freely soluble in water. It presents itself as white to grayish-white granules. Calcium chloride melts at temperatures greater than 772 degrees Celsius, and boils at temperatures greater than 1,600 degrees Celsius. Calcium chloride is dangerous when it is heated to decomposition, as toxic chlorine fumes are emitted. The natural state of the compound itself is also quite dangerous, and requires proper protection for handling, as it can irritate the skin and can damage the respiratory system upon inhalation.

The inhalation of calcium chloride dust can result in shortness of breath and coughing. Ingestion can result in irritation of mucous membranes. Ingesting large amounts can induce vomiting and trigger other gastrointestinal disorders. Care should always be taken when handling calcium chloride. Calcium chloride is largely used to control snow and ice on sidewalks, parking lots, and roads. In some cases, it is used to suppress dust on unpaved surfaces and for stabilizing roads. In addition, its use has been extended through a variety of innovative applications such as oilfield operations, industrial processing, agriculture, water treatment, refrigeration systems, and tire weighting. In cold weather, it is used as a concrete additive to accelerate the setting of concrete, as well as a soil solidification material to help solidify loose, sandy soil. In the mining industry, the compound is used in dust-proofing ore and coals, as well as freeze-resisting them to help them retain moisture.

How does it work?

The Ministry of the Environment in British Columbia found that CaCl2 has significantly less toxicity than MgCl2 in bioassay tests on rainbow trout and the water flea daphnia. For instance, rainbow trout, which represent the high end of the food chain, were five times more sensitive to MgCl2 than to 35% CaCl2. Both materials are used as micronutrient sources in animal feeds. CaCl2 is also a common food ingredient and is “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the US Food and Drug Administration. If anything, Magnesium Chloride is more harmful to vegetation. Tests with calcium chloride by Quebec’s Ministry of Environment found “no definite areas of environmental problem…subject to the use of good application practices”. In addition, CaCl2 is a clean, inorganic material that does not leave an oily or powdery residue after its use.

How to make Calcium Chloride?

Put two antacids and 30 grams of pure salt in a container. Fill it with 100ml of water. From there, let all the ingredients dissolve to form calcium chloride.

Calcium Chloride vs. Magnesium for Concrete and Corrosion Inhibiting

The American Concrete Institute’s Guide to Durable Concrete says calcium chloride has a “negligible” effect on concrete while MgCl2 causes a slow deterioration of concrete surfaces. In addition, a study at Iowa State University of concrete deterioration by deicing salts, including MgCl2 and CaCl2, found that “magnesium chloride was the most destructive salt with severe deterioration produced under almost all of the experimental conditions”. Deterioration was judged by the degree of crumbling, fracturing, and brownish discoloration. The Corrosion Data Survey published by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers indicates that MgCl2 is more than twice as corrosive to the 304 stainless steel as CaCl2. The NACE survey also indicates that MgCl2 can be 10 times more corrosive to mild steel than CaCl2. Although CaCl2 and MgCl2 are considered non-toxic, the Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances states that MgCl2 has nearly three times the toxicity of CaCl2 on a common measure of toxicity.