Calcium chloride is a common substance used to preserve our food, melt ice on the road and even dry concrete. While calcium chloride can be harmful if handled improperly, it is a generally safe substance. No need to worry about the trace amounts in the food you eat. Just be sure to wear gloves when tossing it on your driveway and you should have no issues.
What Is Calcium Chloride Used For?
A white, crystalline substance, calcium chloride serves an array of purposes from food preservation to highway construction.
As far as food goes, calcium chloride is regarded as a safe preservative, commonly used as an anti-browning agent for fruits and vegetables, according to the FDA. The post-harvest application of calcium chloride keeps produce fresh by reducing the vegetables’ weight loss, chilling injury, and loss of vitamin C and beta carotene, according to a 2016 article published in the Journal of Food Research. Calcium chloride is also used in products as a firming agent for foods like evaporated milk and cheese.
This substance is most commonly used to de-ice roads and highways in the form of road salt, according to the American Chemistry Council. Just like sodium chloride (table salt), calcium chloride lowers the melting temperature of ice and keeps our roads slip-free.
Calcium chloride is also often used as a concrete accelerator, according to the American Society of Concrete Contractors. The substance makes for an inexpensive and efficient way to speed up the rate at which concrete dries. However, there are certain restrictions in place that dictate the amount of calcium chloride permitted in concrete.
Common Health Risks Associated With Calcium Chloride
According to West Liberty University, there are some risks to consider while handling calcium chloride. The substance can cause irritation of the skin and eyes if touched without proper gloves and handwashing. Long-term contact with calcium chloride can also lead to contact dermatitis, according to the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS). If inhaled, calcium chloride can also cause irritation in the respiratory tract. If you experience irritation of the skin, eyes or respiratory tract, seek fresh air and wash the affected area.
Calcium chloride, while safe when ingested in doses applied to food, can be dangerous if consumed in larger quantities. Ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting or gastric distress. If a large amount of calcium chloride is consumed, drink several glasses of water or milk and seek medical attention as needed, according to the IPCS.
How to Handle Calcium Chloride Safely
Calcium chloride can be safe to use if handled properly. According to West Liberty University, be sure to wear protective clothing that covers the skin, especially the skin that comes in direct contact with the substance. If you’re working with calcium chloride for long periods of time, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area or take frequent breaks for fresh air.
When storing calcium chloride, keep it dry, concealed and away from zinc (since the two substances can react if mixed). If calcium chloride happens to spill, the IPCS recommends safely sweeping it into covered containers, moistening the salt if needed to more easily stow it.
Calcium chloride is an odorless, white, crystalline solid compound that is highly soluble in water. A type of salt, this chemical is hygroscopic, which means it can attract and absorb water molecules from its surroundings. Calcium chloride has a variety of applications and can lead to potential health risks if handled improperly.
These are some important tips for handling and storing calcium chloride safely.
Calcium chloride is used in a wide range of industries. Namely, this material is used to make road de-icing agents and brine. Other common applications include:
- Dust control
- Salt-based dehumidifiers
- Calcifying aquarium water
- Increasing water hardness in swimming pools
- Food additive
Calcium chloride poses some serious health and safety hazards. If ingested, calcium chloride can lead to burns in the mouth and throat, excess thirst, vomiting, stomach pain, low blood pressure, and other possible severe health effects.
It can also irritate skin by causing excessive dryness or desiccating moist skin. In extreme cases of exposure or ingestion, this chemical can cause skin burns, cardiac disturbances, respiration issues, and seizures. Because of the hazards posed by calcium chloride, it is important to exercise caution when handling this material, whether in the workplace or any other setting.
When handling calcium chloride in the workplace, protect yourself from potential hazards by using safety glasses, a synthetic apron and gloves. Ensure eyewash stations and washing facilities are located in the immediate workspace wherever this chemical is prevalent. In case of exposure to calcium chloride, follow these first aid guidelines:
- Inhalation – Seek fresh air and immediate medical attention.
- Eye Contact – Remove contact lenses, if present. Immediately flush eyes with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes to prevent damage, and seek medical attention.
- Skin Contact – Flush affected area with plenty of water. Remove contaminated clothing and wash with soap. Get medical attention and cover any irritated skin with an emollient.
- Ingestion—Do NOT induce vomiting. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Seek medical attention immediately if large quantities of this material are ingested.
Store calcium chloride in a secure area away from incompatible materials and moisture. Keep container tightly closed in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. This chemical must be disposed of in accordance with federal, state, and local environmental control regulations.
Nedmag calcium chloride is suitable as a food additive, ingredient and as a process aid. Nedmag supplies high-quality calcium chloride tested in our own laboratory with modern analysis techniques to guarantee the best quality every day.
The mineral calcium chloride is a widely used additive for the production of cheese. It is used to increase the size and strength of the curds. Calcium chloride is frequently added to milk at the start of cheese making as a coagulation aid. Adding calcium chloride also increases the effectiveness of rennet.
To ensure that beer tastes the same everywhere, regardless of the processing location, beer brewers demineralise the water at the beginning of the production process. Under controlled conditions, new minerals are then added to the water to improve taste (remineralize). The use of calcium chloride influences the taste and chemical reactions during the brewing process, and may also affect the yeast’s activity during the fermentation process.
Shelf life of fruits and vegetables
Different types of vegetables such as pickles, and legumes such as beans can be preserved. Calcium chloride is often added to ensure a longer shelf life or retention of structure. Fresh vegetables and fruit can also be treated with calcium chloride after harvesting for a longer shelf life. Read more about this on calcium in fruit growing.
Calcium chloride can perform multiple functions as an ingredient. It is used as a thickener and can be added to sports drinks and mineral water. Calcium chloride can also play a role in low sodium products. The reason that international food producers such as FrieslandCampina and Krombacher choose Nedmag is because of the product’s very high purity and because we have all critical production factors well under control.
Agricultural Post-Harvest and Food Applications
- Dairy and Ice Cream
calcium chloride may be used in food production, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified this substance as GRAS (generally recognized as safe to eat). This means that calcium chloride found in foods is edible and is safe for human consumption, allowed in very small amounts only.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is known to cause irritation in the skin and the respiratory tract, while prolonged exposure may trigger dermatitis.
Other possible calcium chloride dangers you have to watch out for, as highlighted by Drugs.com include:
- Noticing a bad taste in your mouth
- Mood changes
- Hot flashes
- Upset stomach or vomiting
- Tiredness or weakness
- Increased thirst
- Reduced appetite
- Back or belly pain, or blood in the urine that may indicate a kidney stone
- Bone pain
- Changes in amount of urine excreted
- Abnormal heartbeat