Do you know that calcium chloride is used to melt ice? And ironically, it is used as a drying agent as well.
The chemical compound is formed from both calcium and chlorine elements. It is highly hygroscopic, that is why it is always stored in tightly-closed containers. Those with hygroscopic nature have the affinity for moisture in the atmosphere. This chemical compound is also deliquescent. This property makes the compound easily soluble in the water that it absorbs.
Calcium chloride can be directly sourced out from limestone. However, a major source of the compound is the Solvay process. This process is done to produce sodium carbonate out of sodium chloride and calcium carbonate. Even if the Solvay process' main product is sodium carbonate, it still produces large amounts of calcium chloride as by-product.
The chemical reaction of hydrochloric acid and calcium carbonate also produces calcium chloride.
There are several uses of calcium chloride. With its hygroscopic nature, it can serve as a channel to absorb moisture in air and gases. It can also be used as additives in liquids so that the removal of dissolved or suspended water may be done. This particular function makes calcium chloride a desiccant or a drying agent.
Its function as an ice-melting compound is made possible by the extreme heat produced during its dissolution. Calcium chloride is often used to hasten the initial setting of concrete. However, it is not recommended for use in reinforced concretes as calcium ions tend to corrode steel rebar.
And do you know that calcium chloride controls the dust on the roads? Because it is highly hygroscopic, it creates a layer of liquid on the road's surface, thus holding the dust down.
Calcium chloride also plays an important role in foods. Since it tastes very salty, it is sometimes used to provide salty flavor to some foods without raising their sodium content. Canned vegetables also make use of calcium chloride in their ingredients to preserve their firmness.
Even though calcium chloride is generally a safe compound to handle, precautionary measures should be observed to prevent it from being ingested. Since it has a strong affinity with water, with which it reacts exothermically with, this chemical compound has the capability to burn one's mouth and/or esophagus. Wearing gloves and goggles are also a must since the compound is a known irritant. Inhalation must be strongly avoided.
As with any other chemical substance, the effect of calcium chloride on one's health is dependent on the level and length of one's exposure. And as always "an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure".