Rightly acknowledged as one of the world’s most versatile industrial chemicals, calcium chloride is best known for melting ice in the winter and controlling dust during the summer months. That being said, the utility of calcium chloride is still being explored and expanded in areas of road maintenance to food processing, and lots of things in-between.
1. What is it?
Also known by its chemical formula CaCI2, calcium chloride is the ionic compound of calcium and chlorine. It is a salt that remained solid at room temperature but is highly soluble in water. It is hygroscopic, meaning that it attracts moisture from the air and its surroundings. This also means it can be used to help absorb moisture in gases.
2. Melting Ice
Its ability to melt ice is a result of the high degree of heat produced during its dissolution.
Calcium chloride is far less corrosive and move effective than rock salt, meaning that it can help significantly reduce equipment maintenance costs and even aid in making sure environmental guidelines are met.
3. Controlling dust
Calcium chloride is also a highly cost-effective way to control dust. Whether on dirt roads, construction sites, or in the cities and long motorways, it works to trap the fine dust particles that are essential to the maintenance of unpaved roads. Without these fine particles, the surface of unpaved roads erodes and degenerates, also freeing the dust to become hazardous to drivers and have negative health impacts on nearby residents and all those who use the road.
4. Repairing construction materials
Calcium chloride has also become a very popular option for repairs and foundations. This is due to the fact that concrete accelerated with calcium chloride achieves good final strength and shrinkage appears to be minimal. The cost as an admixture for concrete is very reasonable and contractors know how to use it.
5. Effect to be aware of
Although extremely beneficial, calcium chloride does have some side effects that are worth considering. For example, it can cause colored concrete finishes to be nonuniform and mottled. Depending on the dosage of calcium chloride, the mottling can appear as light spots on a dark background or the reverse. But some owners today like the mottled appearance, considering it to be another decorative concrete creative expression.
6. How is it sold?
Calcium chloride is sold either as a liquid or as a solid. Both products are approximately 77% calcium chloride. How it should be added to other materials depends on the specific situation. Many contractors prefer to add it to concrete just before placement to help avoid slump loss. This is because it takes about 45 minutes for the reaction get going well, with the chemistry of the concrete at this point being different than when it was batched.
7. Looking to the future
It seems that calcium chloride is going to continue growing in popularity. For example, the move towards use of recycled materials in concrete seems to be resulting in attitude changes toward use of pozzolans (SCMs) and more specification in concrete mixes. The need to accelerate setting times when using these materials will increase the demand for calcium chloride.
Specifications for floor slabs probably will mandate the increased use of “green” materials without specifying the use of accelerators. Specifications also probably will permit the use of accelerators such as calcium chloride but the focus will be on setting times, leaving contractors and ready-mix producers to accomplish this by combining the benefits of hot water and accelerators, adjusting the amount of cementitious materials in mixes, and providing ambient temperature conditions to get the job done.
8. Endless possibilities
This is just a small window into its possible uses though. From Fluorescent lighting, newsprint deinking, concrete acceleration, freeze-proofing coal and ore, filling tires on construction and farm equipment, cheese making, brewing, cherry brining, these are all areas where development is happening, making calcium chloride the basic industrial chemical whose performance redefines what it means to be versatile.