Calcium Chloride: Uses, Structure & Formula

Instructor: John Williams
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.

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.

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