Calcium Chloride

What is Calcium Chloride?

Calcium chloride flakes
Calcium Chloride flakes

Calcium Chloride (also known as CaCl2), is an odourless crystalline compound. It is also a variant of salt that is not only highly soluble in water, but also hygroscopic; which means it attracts and absorbs water molecules from its surroundings.

What is Calcium Chloride used for?

Calcium chloride is used to manufacture various products; from commercial to domestic and it’s ability to absorb water molecules is a particularly useful feature.

Common uses of the chemical include:

  • Adjusting water hardness in swimming pools
  • Adjusting calcium levels in aquarium water
  • Dust control
  • De-icing roads
  • Moisture absorbers
  • Food additives

Calcium Chloride Hazards

While added to our foods in minute concentrations, ingestion of large quantities of calcium chloride will be harmful – the estimated lethal dose for adults is 30 grams. Compared with other metals, most calcium compounds have low toxicity and poisoning is rare and difficult to achieve unless administered intravenously or taken in high doses over a prolonged period. 

In healthy individuals, inhalation of calcium chloride is not thought to produce adverse health effects or irritation of the respiratory tract. Those with already impaired respiratory function however, may  incur further impairment if excessive concentrations are inhaled.

Calcium chloride will cause moderate skin irritation such as inflammation of the skin in many people and repeated or prolonged exposure may result in contact dermatitis (redness and swelling of the skin are symptoms).  

Eye contact with calcium chloride may cause severe eye irritation, inflammation and pain. Permanent injury to the eye is also quite possible if left untreated properly. 

Calcium Chloride Safety

If you have swallowed calcium chloride, seek medical attention immediately. Urgent hospital treatment is likely to be required. If medical attention is more than 15 minutes away, induce vomiting (unless advised otherwise).

If calcium chloride is inhaled, remove them from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source and monitor their breathing. Other measures are not usually necessary.

In the event of exposure to skin; remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories and cleanse the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Contaminated clothing must be washed prior to wearing again. Seek medical attention if irritation persists.   

If eye exposure occurs, remove any contact lenses and immediately flush the eye out  with plenty of water. It is important to wash under the eyelids too. 

Severe eye irritation is a symptom of Calcium Chloride exposure
Severe eye irritation is a symptom of Calcium Chloride exposure

Calcium Chloride Safety Handling

Eyewash stations should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and there should always be adequate ventilation in the area the chemical is being handled.

PPE, such as; respirators, safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, a PVC apron and are recommended when dealing with calcium chloride.