Calcium chloride is found in numerous products in the form of pellets, flakes, solutions and powders. It is used by consumers as well as in manufacturing, industry and medicine. Calcium chloride is found in many products that you may use every day.
Probably the most well known use of calcium chloride is in conjunction with snow removal. When calcium chloride is dissolved in water, it generates heat, which melts ice. It is used on roads, parking lot and sidewalks. Products such as Peladow, which is a snow and ice melter, and Combotherm, which is a blended, commercial-strength de-icer, contain calcium chloride. It is also used on unpaved roads to help control dust.
Calcium chloride is used in the manufacturing of plastics and the production of calcium salt. It is used in the production of concrete. Calcium chloride accelerates the curing (drying) speed of poured concrete. Drilling of gas and oil wells is more efficient when calcium chloride fluids are used. Calcium chloride may also be used as an additive to swimming pools, fabric softeners and fire extinguishers.
Calcium chloride injections are used as a medical treatment for a number of conditions. Examples include treating depression caused by a magnesium sulfate overdose, critical symptoms of lead colic (chronic lead poisoning) and for insect stings and bites (i.e., Black Widow spider). Calcium chloride may be used in cardiac resuscitation if epinephrine does not work to correct myocardial contractions. This may happen following open heart surgery.
Calcium chloride may also be used as a hydrocarbon desiccant (a drying agent), and may be found in products such as DampRid, which absorbs moisture from the air, effectively lowering the humidity. This type of product is commonly used in places like damp basements. Calcium chloride is also used as a food-processing agent (as a preservative, flavor enhancer, freezing ice cream), an additive in sports drinks, cheese and beer (as a source of calcium), and as a tire ballast (to add weight to the tires of farming equipment for stability).
Calcium chloride's toxicity is very low as an additive to foods and other items. However, concentrated calcium chloride may result in ulcers or gastrointestinal upset. Exposure to eyes or skin can irritate or possibly burn. The inhaled dust of calcium chloride may aggravate the upper respiratory tract. Use safety eyewear, gloves and protective clothing when using calcium chloride in industrial applications. In some cases, a particulate respirator may be recommended.
Regulations for the manufacturing use, industrial use, sale, transportation and disposal of calcium chloride are determined by your city or state. Contact your local or state regulatory agency for information or a safety data sheet.