Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) Benefits, Side Effects, Uses and Facts

Calcium chloride, also known as CaCl2 in chemical formula, is a salt of calcium and chlorine. It is an odorless, colorless, nontoxic solution, which is used extensively in various industries and applications around the world. It behaves as a typical ionic halide, and is solid at room temperature. Common applications include brine for refrigeration plants, ice and dust control on roads, and desiccation. Because of its hygroscopic nature, anhydrous calcium chloride must be kept in tightly-sealed air-tight containers.

Calcium is a mineral that is found naturally in foods. Calcium is necessary for many normal functions of the body, especially bone formation and maintenance. Calcium can also bind to other minerals (such as phosphate) and aid in their removal from the body. Calcium chloride can be used to prevent and to treat calcium deficiencies. Contact with calcium chloride may cause skin irritation.

Calcium Chloride Uses & Benefits

Calcium chloride is commonly sold as a white crystalline substance that comes in, either a powdered form or a granular form. Calcium chloride has a salty taste and is the main ingredient in many types of food items including snacks. The properties of calcium chloride make it extremely useful.

Calcium chloride is a soluble compound of calcium and is used for many purposes. Two of the most common uses of a calcium chloride source are production of many other calcium salts and soil fertilization.

Unlike other calcium compounds, calcium chloride produces calcium ions readily. These free calcium ions can then react with other elements to form new compounds. This process continuously takes place in the soil where calcium is needed for many important activities.

A calcium chloride source can also be used to settle down dust on roads. It is used in the manufacturing industry to speed up various processes. Plastic industry makes use of calcium chloride to make firm and solid items. In the context of soil fertilization and solidification, calcium chloride is used as a calcium source along with calcium carbonate and other calcium salts. It is very effective and is totally harmless for fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables grown with a calcium-rich soil contain more elementary calcium than other plants. These can be added to a vegetarian diet to obtain good amounts of calcium on a daily basis. Calcium supplements are also a good way to overcome calcium deficiency and live a healthy life.

Calcium chloride like sodium chloride is salty in taste. It can be added to certain foods in place of regular salt to serve as a dietary calcium source. Common salt is not very refined and doctors discourage the use of too much regular salt in making certain dishes. Calcium chloride can be used as an alternative.

Calcium chloride is used as an additive in some chocolate brands and in making processed cheese. It can be used as a compound in making calcium supplements as well. However, calcium carbonate is more commonly used in making good-quality, effective calcium supplements because it is easily absorbed in the presence of stomach acid.

A variant on calcium carbonate known as coral calcium is also used frequently in making calcium tablets and liquid supplement products. This source of calcium is obtained from fossilized coral reefs and is very useful for maintaining long-term health.

In Medicine

Calcium chloride can be injected as intravenous therapy for the treatment of hypocalcaemia. It can be used for magnesium intoxication. Calcium chloride injection may antagonize cardiac toxicity as measured by electrocardiogram. It can help to protect the myocardium from dangerously high levels of serum potassium in hyperkalemia. Calcium chloride can be used to quickly treat Calcium Channel Blocker toxicity, from the side effects of drugs such as Cardizem — helping avoid potential heart attacks.

A Popular Food Additive

Calcium chloride prevents spoilage of food and is popularly used as a preservative in packed foods. It also helps to keep the food healthy and fresh for a longer duration. The use of calcium chloride as a food additive and preservative has one more advantage. It helps to increase calcium content in the food, thereby contributing to boost nutritional value of the food item. In addition to being a preservative, it also acts as an excellent firming agent. Canned vegetables and fruits are likely to become soft if firming agents like calcium chloride are not added to them. In other words, to maintain firmness and keep canned foods away from softening, use of calcium chloride is essential. Although calcium chloride does not contain sodium, it is yet salty, hence is used as a flavor enhancer for pickles. Being an electrolyte and also a source of calcium, it is not surprising that calcium chloride is also found in sports drinks. As pasteurization of milk greatly diminishes calcium content, calcium chloride is added in small amounts to aid coagulation and form quality yogurt. Calcium chloride is also an important cheese making additive. The water solution of calcium chloride is used in refrigerators. The solution is an essential cooling agent for making ice.

A Good Drying Agent

Calcium chloride remains in solid state at room temperature. It readily dissolves in water and ethanol at a very low temperature. As it is hygroscopic (capable of absorbing moisture), calcium chloride is always stored in air-tight (sealed) containers. Because of its strong affinity for atmospheric moisture, this chemical compound forms a liquid solution if exposed to oxygen. It can be used to dry other organic liquids; hence, it is sometimes also called a drying agent. Being strongly hygroscopic, a layer of calcium chloride is applied on roads and in mines to minimize dust problems. It is also widely used as an additive in the paper making industry and in the manufacturing of dyes. Calcium chloride is also often used as a dehydrating agent in the petrochemical industry, due to its ability to deprive a chemical compound of its water content.

An Excellent De-Icing Chemical

Calcium chloride helps in lowering the freezing or melting point of water. Ice covered roads is a common problem in cold regions of the world. To make these roads usable, melting this ice is very important. Its ability to bring down the freezing point of water is what works to free winter roads from accumulated ice. For instance, the freezing point of water containing approximately 30% concentration of calcium chloride solution is around -67 degree Fahrenheit, which is significantly lower than its normal freezing point. Calcium chloride melts ice faster than any other chemical compound and that is why in extremely cold conditions, the highway department applies it in a powder form on the roads and sidewalks.

For Correcting Calcium Hardness

Low calcium content in water also referred as low calcium hardness can damage the swimming pool concrete and deck surfaces. These swimming pool problems can be avoided by increasing the calcium hardness of water. This can be easily achieved by adding calcium chloride to pool water.

Reduces Concrete Setting Time

Calcium chloride is often added to concrete mixes as it has been proved that concrete containing this chemical compound hardens rapidly, thus reducing the time of setting. This chemical compound also provides greater concrete strength. Unlike other chemical compounds, it does not damage the concrete.

Effective Exothermic Agent

Calcium chloride is exothermic (heat-producing). When added in liquids to remove dissolved water, a huge amount of heat is released and the temperature can rise up to 60 degree Celsius. This property is often used to start the heating process required for industrial purposes.

The unique properties of calcium chloride such as the ability to attract moisture from air, quick dissolving and exothermic qualities have indeed made it a popular industrial chemical.

How Calcium Chloride Works on Our Roads

When you see dust coming up from your roads, you're really seeing parts of the road thrown to the wind. Road dust is made up of fine particles that are important to the stability of the road. When fines blow away, the gravel road begins to break down. Traffic scatters the coarser aggregate, causing potholes, ruts, washboards, loss of profile, loss of ditch lines, and other problems. Wetting the road surface helps to keep dust-related problems in check. Moisture helps fines adhere to each other and to aggregates, allowing for optimum compaction. The trick is to keep the road moist.

Calcium chloride absorbs water vapor from the air and liquid water from the road bed. At 77 F and 75% humidity, for example, it absorbs more than twice its weight in water. In addition, calcium chloride solutions attract more moisture to the road than they give up in evaporation.

The road remains dense and compact under almost any level of traffic because calcium chloride keeps materials on the road by keeping moisture in the road, even under a burning sun on a sweltering day.

Calcium chloride is generally sprayed as a 35% solution using a tank truck with a rear- mounted distribution bar that spreads the liquid evenly over the road. One pass will cover an 8- to 12-foot-wide road. Two passes are needed on roads 16 to 18 feet wide.

As soon as calcium chloride enters a road, it's attracted to negatively charged soil particles, such as clays, which help resist leaching. Calcium chloride may move deeper into the base during wet weather but will rise toward the surface during dry spells.

An unpaved road stabilized with calcium chloride retains a smooth dustless surface. The moisture retained keeps the surface plastic enough so fines can migrate into gaps formed between aggregates under the varying pressure of car and truck traffic.

Calcium Chloride Side Effects & Dangers

Medicinal Side Effects

Calcium chloride injection

Health care professionals may also utilize a 10 percent calcium chloride injection in the treatment of hypocalcemia, low serum levels of calcium in the blood, if a quick increase in plasma calcium is necessary. However, coming in contact with larger quantities of calcium chloride may become dangerous. Calcium chloride can cause a variety of side effects. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following potentially serious side effects: an unusual taste in your mouth, weakness, pain at the injection site, nausea, or vomiting, or if you feel unusually warm, or have tingly sensations. Also, be on the lookout for signs of low blood pressure, including lightheadedness, nausea, blurry vision, thirst, pale skin, shallow breathing, fatigue, depression, or fainting. Seek medical help if any of these symptoms occur.

Calcium chloride IV

The following side effects are associated with calcium chloride IV:

Common side effects of calcium chloride IV:

Abnormal Heart Rhythm


Abnormally Low Blood Pressure


Excessive Sweating


Temporary Redness of Face and Neck


Feel Like Throwing Up


Throwing Up


Numbness and Tingling


Rare side effects of calcium chloride IV:



Dry Mouth


Low Energy


Taste Problems


Loss of Appetite


Excessive Thirst


Head Pain


Easily Angered or Annoyed


High Amount of Calcium in the Blood


Are there any Dangers or Side Effects of Calcium Chloride as a Food Additive?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, reports that extensive studies provide no evidence that ingesting calcium chloride in the quantities found in food pose a risk to the public. The dangers of using calcium chloride as a food additive are associated with plant workers who add it in its pure form rather than the consumers who ingest it.

Inhalation Dangers

Although inhaling calcium chloride in granular form does not pose a significant danger, inhaling its dust -- the form it often takes when being added to foods -- poses a hazard. It can irritate the respiratory tract, leading to coughing and shortness of breath, according to calcium chloride's material safety data sheet, or MSDS.

Ingestion Dangers

Calcium chloride has a low toxicity rating, but ingestion can still lead to many problems. This is due to a process called hydrolysis, which occurs when calcium chloride reacts with water and creates excess heat as a byproduct. Ingestion may seriously irritate the moist linings of the body, such as those in the nostrils, mouth and throat, lips, eyelids and ears. Ingestion of larger amounts may induce gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Skin & Eye Contact Dangers

In its solid form, calcium chloride may cause mild skin irritation. When skin is moist, or when calcium chloride is in solution form, this irritation is more severe and may even cause burns. The heat generated from hydrolysis may also cause burns and irritation when it comes in contact with eyes.
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