Calcium Chloride: Uses and Side Effects

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Calcium Chloride

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  • Calcium chloride may be used to address conditions caused by decreased levels of this mineral. In some cases, it can be given to patients with health problems like arrhythmias and hypermagnesemia
  • Calcium chloride is also used to manufacture food, produce cement, and maintain and construct roads and highways
  • You must exercise extreme caution when using calcium chloride. Some of its side effects include skin and respiratory tract irritation, ulcerations on the nasal mucous membrane, dizziness, upset stomach, weakness or fainting

It's common to hear about people carefully monitoring their calcium levels, especially since this mineral plays a big role in improving bone health and retaining proper heart and muscle function. Because the body cannot produce enough calcium on its own, many people rely on external sources to increase their levels of this nutrient.1

Although most people take supplements, other types of calcium may be administered in different ways, particularly calcium chloride. You may find injections containing this substance, or containers of calcium chloride tablets or powders. If you're interested in learning more about calcium chloride, continue reading this guide.

What Is Calcium Chloride?

Calcium chloride is an ionic substance composed of calcium and chlorine that's highly soluble in water, and considered a deliquescent (a substance able to melt or dissolve).2 It's a type of calcium salt that remains solid when in room temperature, and exhibits behaviors similar to an ionic halide.3 Calcium chloride is usually made by dissolving limestone (calcium carbonate) or marble in hydrochloric acid.4

Unlike other types of calcium, there are no calcium chloride supplements available that may be taken internally to complement a healthy and nutrient-dense diet. Calcium chloride is typically available as an injection, which is administered as an immediate intervention for potentially dangerous health issues,5 while some websites sell calcium chloride powders or tablets for industrial uses.

7 Uses for Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride may be utilized as an immediate treatment for health problems caused by significantly reduced calcium levels such as hypocalcemic tetany, where patients are experiencing muscle spasms. In some cases, a calcium chloride injection may be helpful with addressing low calcium levels (before they trigger other health issues), cardiac resuscitation and other conditions like:6,7

  • Arrhythmias (heartbeat problems8)
  • Hypermagnesemia (having excessively high amounts of magnesium in the bloodstream9)
  • Calcium channel blocker or beta blocker overdose
  • High amounts of potassium (in the heart) and magnesium (in the heart and lungs)

Calcium chloride is also used for various purposes across different industries, such as:10

  1. Food — Calcium chloride is used in cheese and beer production, and in brining as a calcium source. It's also added to some brands of bottled water,11 and utilized to maintain firmness of foods or to promote mineral balance in drinks.12
  2. Highway construction — Because of its supposed abilities to help preserve moisture and enhance soil compaction, calcium chloride is often used as a stabilizer.
  3. Highway maintenance — Calcium chloride may be used in melting ice and in dustlaying, as it helps absorb moisture from the air that inhibits dust formation.
  4. Cement production — Calcium chloride may be added to low alkali cement in order to volatilize alkali and act as a chloride source.
  5. Automotive and aluminum industry — Waste water treatments may use calcium chloride to eliminate fluoride, phosphates, heavy metals and oily wastes.
  6. Calcium salt production — Manufacturers may add some calcium chloride when making calcium salts.
  7. Mining — Calcium chloride may be used for dustproofing and freeze-resisting ore and coal, to potentially assist with retaining moisture and decreasing the freezing point of water.

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Studies on Calcium Chloride's Effectivity

Because studies related to calcium chloride's effects on humans are lacking, this substance's potential effectiveness and safety is quite questionable. Researchers have only focused on the potential effects of calcium chloride in the growth and development of certain animals, yielding mixed results:

  • Suckling rats According to this 2003 study, rats administered calcium chloride six to 14 days after their birth experienced adverse effects surrounding their growth.13
  • Dogs — In a 2014 article, researchers discovered that while a calcium chloride and saline solution mixture was potentially effective as a nonsurgical sterilization method, it may not work as a permanent sterilization option, particularly in dosages where side effects haven't manifested.14
  • Freshwater crayfish — Researchers who spearheaded a 2017 study noted that 60 kg-1 (132 pounds) of calcium chloride was considered the best option for growth of freshwater crayfish.15

Calcium Chloride's Known Hazards

Calcium chloride has been linked to various side effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is known to cause irritation in the skin and the respiratory tract, while prolonged exposure may trigger dermatitis. In some cases, calcium chloride may cause ulcerations to appear on your nasal mucous membrane.16 Allergic reactions may also occur. These are characterized by:

  • Development of rashes and hives
  • Itching and wheezing
  • Swallowing, talking or breathing difficulties
  • Swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat

Other possible calcium chloride dangers you have to watch out for, as highlighted by, include:17

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Noticing a bad taste in your mouth
  • Mood changes
  • Hot flashes
  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Increased thirst
  • Reduced appetite
  • Back or belly pain, or blood in the urine that may indicate a kidney stone
  • Bone pain
  • Changes in amount of urine excreted
  • Abnormal heartbeat

Should side effects manifest, contact a doctor immediately.

Calcium Chloride's Safety Examined

The following groups of people are advised to refrain from using calcium chloride because it may cause other health problems:18

  • People allergic to calcium or calcium chloride
  • People taking ceftriaxone, digoxin, demeclocycline, doxycycline, dolutegravir, eltrombopag, lymecycline, minocycline or oxytetracycline19
  • People with breathing problems
  • People with high low calcium levels, whether caused by kidney problems or not

If you're planning to take any calcium supplement, do thorough research first and check the ingredients list, since some manufacturers may add harmful ingredients that may raise your risk for health problems. A 1994 Nutrition Reviews article highlighted that poor-quality calcium supplements may have high quantities of toxic metals like lead, cadmium, aluminum and mercury in their formula.20

If You Want to Optimize Your Calcium Levels, Opt for Calcium-Rich Foods Instead

Taking supplements should not be your first course of action if you're striving to get more calcium in your body or to at least maintain healthy levels of this nutrient. These drugs are called supplements because they're meant to complement an already-existing healthy and nutritious diet. Consuming the following calcium-rich foods may work better in optimizing levels of this nutrient compared to supplements:

You may consider adding ground, thoroughly cleaned organic eggshells to smoothies, casserole, salads or pasta sauces too.21 Eggshells (derived from organically grown, pasture-raised eggs of course) may work as a substitute for calcium supplements,22 and contain bone-boosting minerals like phosphorus, magnesium and selenium.23

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Calcium Chloride

Q: What does calcium chloride do in the body?

A: Your doctor may recommend calcium chloride injections because they may help address or decrease the risk for low calcium levels that may lead to health problems, or to protect against high potassium levels in the heart or high magnesium levels in the heart and lungs.

People who suffer from arrhythmias, hypermagnesemia, or calcium channel blocker or beta blocker overdose, or who need to undergo cardiac resuscitation may be recommended calcium chloride injections too.24,25

Q: Why is calcium chloride used in food?

A: Manufacturers often add calcium chloride to the production of beers, cheeses, brines or bottled water to increase the calcium content of the finished product. Calcium chloride may also be added to allow foods to become firm and to promote mineral balance.26,27,28

Q: Is calcium chloride harmful to humans?

A: Calcium chloride may be bad for you because of the numerous side effects linked to it. The CDC notes that calcium chloride may lead to irritation in the skin and the respiratory tract, or cause development of dermatitis or ulcerations in your nasal mucous membrane.29 Other adverse effects that may arise include dizziness, tiredness or weakness, fainting, hot flashes or allergic reactions.30

Q: Is it safe to eat calcium chloride?

A: Because calcium chloride may be used in food production, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified this substance as GRAS (generally recognized as safe to eat). This means that calcium chloride found in foods is edible and is safe for human consumption, albeit in very small amounts only.31

Q: Is it safe to drink water with calcium chloride in it?

A: Some brands of bottled water may contain small amounts of calcium chloride. According to New York University professor Marion Nestle, Ph.D., these small amounts may be safe and won't cause drastic health concerns. Substances like calcium chloride are naturally found in water and assist the body with sweating and other functions.32,33

However, it would be better if you avoid drinking bottled water in general because many bottled waters have been found to contain large quantities of harmful microplastics that may cause health problems. High-quality filtered water is arguably the better option.

Q: Is calcium chloride soluble?

A: The PubChem Open Chemistry Database notes that calcium chloride is a soluble substance.34

Q: Is calcium chloride vegan?

A: Yes. According to The Vegetarian Research Group, a calcium salt like calcium chloride can be considered a vegan ingredient.35

Q: Where can you buy calcium chloride?

A: There are websites selling injectable calcium chloride, powdered calcium chloride or calcium chloride tablets. If you're interested in buying any of these products, do thorough research on the retailer or seller first, so you're sure that the item is of high quality.