Calcium chloride is composed of two chlorine atoms and one calcium atom, making it a chemical compound. The compound is a salt which has a variety of uses, from deicing roads to correcting chemical imbalances and adding flavour to foods. Due to the way it absorbs water, calcium chloride is often used as a desiccant.
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Calcium chloride can come in a variety of solid forms, but is usually found as powder, small crystal beads or as flakes. The substance is white or sometimes grey-white while in solid form and colourless when in liquid form. Calcium chloride is odourless in all its forms.
Solubility and absorption
Calcium chloride is highly soluble in water and other solvents, meaning that it will quickly dissolve in the liquid. Despite this high solubility, solid phase separation or the creation of ice crystals from within the solution, will occur at specific temperatures with certain calcium chloride solution concentrations. Calcium chloride is considered hygroscopic since it will absorb water from the atmosphere. Calcium chloride will release a large amount of heat when it is dissolved in water.
In its undiluted form, calcium chloride has a melting point of 772 degrees Celsius (1,423 Fahrenheit) and a boiling point of 1935 degrees Celsius (3,515 degrees Fahrenheit). When calcium chloride is diluted in water the melting and boiling point of the solution are much lower than calcium chloride's normal points. Calcium chloride's ability to absorb water means that it will eventually become a liquid solution when stored in an environment that has moisture in the atmosphere.
The United State Food and Drug Administration determined in 1975 that calcium chloride is safe when used in small quantities as a food additive. However, in laboratory quantities and concentrations, calcium chloride can be very dangerous. Due to the amount of heat that is released when calcium chloride is dissolved in water, the temperature of the solution can become greater than the boiling point of the water, causing an explosive situation. If calcium chloride is swallowed or allowed to rest on the skin, it can absorb moisture and act as an irritant.
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