Calcium chloride is a salt. It’s used as a food additive, a medicine, and a means to de-ice roads. It’s been thoroughly evaluated by the FDA and doesn’t appear to pose a health risk as an ingredient in your food.
Is Calcium Chloride A Safe Food Additive
Calcium chloride is often used as a firming agent or a preservative. It shows up in a wide variety of products. It allows cheesemakers to change the speed at which cheese coagulates. It’s used as a brewing salt to control temperature and acidity when making beer. In tomato sauce, it’s added as a preservative – it slows down the rate at which tomatoes and other fruits go soft. In energy drinks, calcium chloride shows up as an electrolyte.
The minimal amounts of calcium chloride in food are safe for consumption. Calcium chloride does not bioaccumulate in the body – it passes back out through urine. It’s not toxic and was approved as safe by the FDA in 1975.
Those who are involved with the industrial production of calcium chloride have a different set of worries. They may experience irritation of the eyes and skin when coming into contact with calcium chloride particles. Calcium chloride heats up when it comes into contact with water – it can dry out the skin and cause uncomfortable sensations of heat. If you’re making large amounts calcium chloride, be sure to wear proper eye and skin protection and follow workplace safety guidelines.
Ingesting unsafe amounts of concentrated calcium chloride can cause a burning sensation in the mouth and throat or gastrointestinal distress. Call poison control immediately in the event of pure calcium chloride ingestion. Although the symptoms are unpleasant, induced vomiting is generally not necessary.
Calcium chloride has a wide variety of medical applications. It can be used to treat burns, magnesium intoxication, and different heart problems. Calcium chloride cannot be injected intramuscularly, however – it has to enter through a vein. Adverse effects of a botched calcium chloride injection include the feeling of heat and a burning sensation around the injection site.
The Many Uses of Calcium Chloride in Food
Fundamentally calcium chloride is a desiccant and is often used as a firming agent. That is, it helps keep foods from becoming mushy when they sit on store shelves – particularly canned foods. You’re likely to find it in almost any canned fruit or vegetable, as it does a lot to extend the shelf lives of those foods.
However, that’s just the start of the usefulness of calcium chloride.
Another extremely commonplace use of calcium chloride is when making cheese. At a basic level, it acts as a firming agent here too – helping the cheese curds clump together and be more stable once they do.
Beyond that, it’s also highly useful for regulating the process of separating curds and whey. Small amounts of calcium chloride can be added to milk, changing both its calcium content and its pH level, which in turn will change the properties of the cheese which is made.
The substance is also used in the making of tofu, particularly firm tofu, in a similar fashion.
Calcium chloride is also commonly seen among brewers, as one of many “brewing salts” which can be added to affect the type and quality of the beer produced. It can help correct for unbalanced mineral levels, as well as – again – altering the pH of the beer. This is vital for creating a stable product!
One of the more interesting properties of calcium chloride is that when it’s combined with sodium alginate (another safe food additive) it can make liquids combine into small semi-solid spheres. This is used for making fake caviar, as well as other novelty foods.
In the food industry Calcium chloride is used in a wide range of food products – from cheese and tofu to beer, canned fruits and vegetables and sports drinks.
It is used as a nutrient supplement, stabiliser, thickener, and texturiser and is useful in baked goods, dairy products, beverages, juices, coffee, tea, condiments, jellies, meat products, and other products.
The most common uses:
· As a firming agent in canned vegetables
· It is often used in sports drinks where it acts as an electrolyte, which are ions that conduct electrical activity and help the body maintain fluid balance as well as proper muscle and nerve functions. It also helps maintain bone can health, prevent muscle spasm and keep the heartbeat regular.
· Prevents browning of fresh fruits and vegetables and helps maintain texture.
USES IN DAIRY PRODUCTS
When making cheese, calcium chloride helps create a firmer setting curd. Store bought pasteurised milk or goat’s milk may have a lower calcium content. The amount of calcium in the milk will affect coagulation and coagulation time of the cheese. Adding the calcium chloride allows cheese makers to better control the coagulation process. The amount of calcium chloride added will depend on:
· the acidity (pH) and calcium concentration of the milk;
· processing conditions, such as temperature;
· desired coagulating time.
It is also used in the beer industry to get the correct mineral levels and acidity in the brewing water.
Anti-icing is the practice of applying ice melting chemicals before or at the start of freezing precipitation to prevent the formation of ice-to-pavement bonds. Compared to deicing after weather events, anti-icing requires considerably smaller amounts of deicing material, reducing product and application costs, as well as potential runoff to the environment.
The savings provided by anti-icing can be significant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says anti-icing techniques can reduce deicer usage by up to 75%