What is Calcium Chloride? What is Calcium Chloride used for?

Dowflake Xtra Calcium Chloride Flakes from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLC

Calcium Chloride is a salt made up of one calcium molecule for every two molecules of chlorine.  You think, “Great! Why should I care?” Well, we are glad you asked because Calcium Chloride does some cool stuff with ice removal, food preservation, generating heat, and more!

Before we get to the really fun information, here is some other housekeeping information about Calcium Chloride:

What is Calcium Chloride Used For?

snow & ice salt treatment

Ice Removal

Ice Removal is the primary use of Calcium Chloride in the United States.  Here is why we are big fans of Calcium Chloride.  It is the “strong man” of ice removal.  Calcium Chloride is effective at melting ice at temperatures as low as -25°F. 

Calcium Chloride is also exothermic, a fancy word that means it creates heat when it comes in contact with water, helping it melt ice faster than any other ice melting chemical. 

How fast, you ask?

In the first 20 minutes after application at 20°F (-7°C), Calcium Chloride melts approximately:

  • 30% more ice than magnesium chloride
  • 35% more ice than rock salt
  • 130% more ice than urea
  • 400% more ice than potassium chloride

Calcium Chloride is also gentler on vegetation and a little less corrosive than rock salt (the “salt” we generally think of when the roads and highways get salted).

mag flakes ice melt for dust control from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited
Calcium Chloride helps keep dust down on dirt roads and in horse arenas.

Road Surfacing

You can use Calcium Chloride for treating roads to keep dust down because Calcium Chloride is “hydroscopic” (meaning it attracts water and it will pull moisture out of the air).  The hydroscopic nature of Calcium Chloride, and its “cousin” magnesium chloride, makes it suitable to spray on roads or to use in horse arenas. 

Both compounds will not only keep dust down, but they also help keep a dirt road firmer creating more stability and adding longevity to a dirt road.  Calcium Chloride on roads may need 50% less grading and 80% less grading materials, which saves a lot, especially on labor and equipment costs. 

Keep Food Tasting and Looking Good

Calcium Chloride is used to help canned vegetables stay firm and helps with color retention.  You will find Calcium Chloride in pickles, beer, and cheese making as well as in some bottled waters you buy at the store.

You can buy food grade calcium chloride and make your own mineral water.  Some people will add it to purified water along with Epsom salts then add carbonation for their very own version of sparkling mineral water.

Self-Heating Devices

Calcium Chloride is used in self-heating food devices and self-heating warming pads.  If you want hot food, but don’t have a way to cook it, calcium chloride might just save your day. It can also be used in self-heating warming pads. Now that is pretty cool.

Keep Things Dry

You can use Calcium Chloride as a desiccant (meaning it keeps things dry). As mentioned earlier, it is a hydroscopic compound, meaning it attracts moisture including humidity out of the air.  Since Calcium Chloride is generally considered food safe in the US and the EU, it is a safe desiccant to use when packaging items you eat like dietary supplements. 

Fire Extinguisher's like this one sometimes use Calcium Chloride

Other Fun Uses for Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride is used in concrete mixes to accelerate the initial setting. You will find Calcium Chloride in many fire extinguishers, as a thinner in fabric softeners, and as a drainage aid for wastewater.  Who doesn’t love Calcium Chloride?  Well, there are some hazards to it, so be careful.

Hazards of Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride can act as an irritant by drying out your skin, and it can even burn your skin (remember, it creates heat when it comes in contact with water). You can severely damage your body if you ingest high concentrations of Calcium Chloride, plus, if you consume too much, you can suffer from hypercalcemia or too much calcium.

As long as you take proper precautions to keep high concentrations off of your skin, and as long as you don’t ingest a lot of Calcium Chloride, you will be alright. 

We Love Calcium Chloride

Peladow Calcium Chloride Pellets from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLC

Our specialty is snow and ice removal products, so we love Calcium Chloride.  We see (literally) tons of Calcium Chloride used to keep people safe every winter, and it doesn’t have all of the drawbacks of regular old rock salt.  If you want more information on Calcium Chloride options for ice removal or dust control, check out our ice melt products page where we have several different options.