Calcium chloride is one of the most versatile chemicals available. Used in medical treatments and as a de-icer for winter roads, in recreational pools and industrial brine refrigeration, this simple chemical compound is involved in many complicated processes.
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Calcium chloride is used for the treatment of hypocalcaemia-- a condition in which patients have low levels of calcium in the blood--via intravenous administration of a 10 percent calcium chloride solution. It is also used to treat hyperkalaemia, a condition in which patients have high levels of potassium in the blood. In hyperkalaemic patients, the calcium chloride can prevent lethal cardiac arrhythmia. Calcium chloride is also an antidote for ingestion of magnesium sulfate, and can also minimise some of the side effects of calcium-channel blockers.
Calcium chloride is a salt. When salts are dissolved in water, they increase the molecular disorder of the liquid, temporarily stopping the freezing process of that liquid. With salt added, water at 0°C is a liquid. It is not frozen or icy. Therefore, on icy, snowy roads, adding calcium chloride essentially "melts" the ice; it keeps the water liquid at lower temperatures and increases the safety of the roads and walkways.
Calcium chloride is a better road salt than normal table salt, because calcium chloride creates more molecular disorder than sodium chloride. The more molecular disorder created, the lower the freezing temperature of the water. Because the chemical formula for calcium chloride is CaCl2, when calcium chloride dissolves, three ions are created; two chloride ions and one calcium ion. When sodium chloride, NaCl, is dissolved, only two ions are created; one sodium ion and one chloride ion. The more ions created, the more molecular disorder, the lower the freezing temperature of the liquid, and therefore, the lower the temperature at which the water remains in liquid form.
Pool water contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and other elements. The levels of these minerals is measured and reported as "total hardness" of the water. The ideal range for calcium hardness in a pool is 250 to 350 parts per million.
If the calcium hardness is too low, the water becomes corrosive and can result in etching of the pool surface. Pool equipment, pipe fittings and pump connections made of metal can also corrode, and pool walls and floors can stain. Low calcium hardness is corrected by the addition of calcium chloride.
Calcium chloride brine is a common secondary refrigerant used in both industrial and marine refrigeration systems. Secondary refrigerants transfer heat from the substance being cooled to a heat exchanger. Heat is absorbed by a primary refrigerant. Calcium chloride is used in the brine solutions of low-temperature applications.
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