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Calcium Chloride: Uses, Structure & Formula

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Salts are inorganic compounds that are composed of ions through the formation of ionic bonds. These molecules are important chemically in both natural and commercial processes. This article focuses on one of these salts: calcium chloride.

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Introduction

Salts are inorganic compounds composed of ions, or charged particles. These ions include positively charged ions, called cations, and negatively charged ions, called anions. These compounds form through ionic bonds, which are bonds that developed based on opposite charges attracting each other. The bonds allow for ions to form salt compounds, which can have different purposes, both naturally and commercially.

Many of these salts have functions that are useful for humans. Salts can be found in foods, cosmetics, medications, and even household chemicals. In this article, we will explore the characteristics and uses of one of these salts: calcium chloride.

Formula and Structure of Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride is created from the ionic bonds that form between calcium cations and chloride anions. Chloride ions have a charge of -1, while calcium ions have a charge of +2. The molecule for calcium chloride has two chloride ions and one calcium ion, which means that the overall charge for the molecule is 0, or neutral. Below is the chemical reaction for the formation of calcium chloride:

Formation of Calcium Chloride Bonds
Calcium chloride formation

Calcium chloride salts can also form crystals based on these same ionic properties. Positive calcium ions can orient themselves so that they are close to the negative chloride ions in another molecule. This allows for the solid crystal structure shown below.

Calcium Chloride Crystal Formation
Calcium chloride crystal

Uses

The uses of calcium chloride are numerous. They range from natural production in the environment to uses in food and medications. The following examples represent a small number of these uses.

Building Materials

Calcium chloride is a large component of limestone, which means that it has a natural function in many marine environments. Additionally, limestone is often used commercially to serve as building material in the process of making concrete. In concrete, it helps with the solidifying process and can improve the hardness of the final product.

Foods and Medications

Calcium chloride can be used to increase the firmness of many foods. Tofu, for example, is a relatively soft food derived from soybean. However, it is often served as firm strips that can be cooked similar to meat. Calcium chloride helps with this process.

Calcium chloride also serves several medicinal purposes within the human body. It can be used to counteract the effects of increased potassium, and therefore can protect the heart. Additionally, it can be provided to patients who suffer from hypocalcemia, or low calcium. Calcium is a key component of muscle contraction, nervous system function, and blood clotting. This means that hypocalcemia treatments, such as calcium chloride, are important for counteracting the negative effects that come from low calcium.

De-icing

Have you ever been driving in cold weather? If so, you may have noticed that roads and surfaces are often slippery as ice develops. Calcium chloride is often used as a de-icing material to prevent this process. Calcium chloride lowers the freezing point of water, which lowers the chance that water will freeze on the surface. Additionally, calcium chloride dissolves exothermically, meaning it releases heat when added to water. This also prevents the build-up of ice on concrete surfaces.

Conclusion

Calcium chloride is an important salt, both commercially and naturally. As with all salts, calcium chloride is composed of ions bonded through ionic bonds. The properties of this salt allows us to utilize it for multiple purposes, including food production, construction, and medicinal uses.

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