CaCl2 is the symbol for the chemical compound calcium chloride. This compound is one of the most widely used substances in both home and industrial environments. It is stable, not difficult to store, maintains its efficacy over long periods of time and easily soluble in water. In addition, while safety precautions must be observed, CaCl2 does not pose the hazards of some other chemicals that perform the same functions as calcium chloride. All of these factors contribute to the ongoing popularity of calcium chloride.
Found naturally in limestone, CaCl2 is produced by bonding calcium and chlorine. The compound is solid at room temperature but can be reduced to a liquid and has multiple uses in both forms. Liquid CaCl2 is also found in nature, primarily in mineral springs and ocean water. As a liquid, CaCl2 can actually pull moisture from its surroundings which makes it able to forestall evaporation for long periods of time. In addition, calcium chloride is exothermic which means as a result of a chemical reaction CaCl2 will give off heat. This chemical reaction makes it useful for a variety of purposes in industry.
Hundreds of millions of tons of flake CaCl2 are used each year to de-ice roads. During the summer months, flake calcium chloride is used to settle dust on roads, excavations sites and athletic fields. Liquid CaCl2 is often used when drilling for oil or gas as well as when preparing roads for paving. Calcium chloride in its liquid form is also used to make roads more freeze resistant. Cleansing sewage, acting as an organic fertilizer and as an agent for adjusting the pH in soil are but three other of the many other ways in which industry makes use of liquid CaCl2.
Although the use of CaCl2 is not as risky as many similar compounds, users should still exercise caution in its application. Rubber gloves and boots are recommended when handling it. Flake calcium chloride should immediately be washed off of the skin and flushed from the eyes or mouth. Burns may occur with prolonged exposure. Neither flake nor liquid CaCl2 should ever be taken internally and a doctor should be consulted if ingestion occurs.
Due to the heat released by the chemical reaction that occurs when CaCl2 is dissolved in water, protective clothing including goggles is advised. Vapors are not routinely given off during this process but calcium chloride dust may be present which can irritate the eyes, throat and lungs. Liquid calcium chloride may also splatter when it reaches the boiling point or even before the boiling point is reached, therefore extreme care should be taken if the liquid is heated.
Largely non-toxic and environmentally friendly, CaCl2 is one of the world’s most adaptable chemical compounds. Used with the proper precautions it is a safe and highly effective chemical compound. Due to the many ways it can be used, its ready accessibility and its ease of handling, CaCl2 will likely remain one of the most popular chemical compounds for individual and industrial use.