Common uses of calcium chloride in food
When next you shop for any food product, take note of the ingredients labeled on the body of the product. You will definitely spot calcium chloride.
Calcium chloride is one of the basic ingredients of most vegetables, canned fruits, baked goods, and even cheese. There is barely any food or beverage industry that doesn’t make use of calcium chloride.
It is not only amazing as a texturizer or thickener for most food products. It is also amazing for jellies, coffee, beverages.
Most times, people ask about the common uses of calcium chloride in food. Other times, they wonder if calcium chloride has side effects.
Anyways, whatever question you have in regards to calcium chloride will be answered in this article. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about the common uses of calcium chloride in food.
What is calcium chloride?
Calcium chloride is an inorganic ingredient with the molecular formula (cacl2). This ingredient is composed of elements of calcium and chloride. It is basically used as a desiccant and a firming agent.
Firming agents are used to strengthen the structure of the food product and to prevent its collapse while processing.
On the other hand, desiccants help to keep food products dry and stable. They are basically drying agents that absorb water and retain the crispness of vegetables and canned fruits.
Have you noticed that the canned fruits or fresh vegetables you consume are crisp and crunchy? That’s what desiccants and firming agents.
Calcium chloride helps to prevent food products from becoming soft when kept on shelves in the store. You will definitely find calcium chloride as an ingredient in most vegetables or canned fruits: they extend the shelf life of these products.
Common uses of calcium chloride in food
There are lots of common uses of calcium chloride in food. More than just a desiccant, it serves numerous purposes.
Below are the common uses for calcium chloride in food.
Calcium chloride is one of the basic ingredients in making cheese. Have you ever wondered why cheese is stable, firm, and not grainy?
While processing cheese, calcium chloride is added so the batches of cheese could clump together and become stable or perfectly molded- as you see after unwrapping from its packet.
Calcium chloride is also useful in regulating the separation of curds and cheese.
If you want to make a quick at-home cheese, a great tip is to add calcium chloride to milk in small amounts. This will change the calcium content, PH level, and other properties of the cheese you will make.
For Preserving Fresh Vegetable
Another common use of calcium chloride in food is it helps to preserve vegetables and keep them fresh and crunchy for a long time. Vegetables last on the shelves of stores for a long time till they are picked by a customer.
You could spray calcium chloride on vegetables after purchasing or harvesting from your garden/farm. Also, you could make a calcium chloride solution and dip your vegetables right inside.
All of these will help to retain vitamin C present in the vegetables for a long time instead of its rapid loss. Other benefits include:
- Reduction of decay
- lowering the respiratory strength of the vegetable
- Reducing calcium deficiency and boosting the nutrient, calcium
- Most importantly, extending the shelf life of the vegetables.
For Pickling Brine
The salty taste of pickles is attributed to calcium chloride. A substitute for sodium chloride when pickling brines is calcium chloride.
Plus, sodium intake is maintained when calcium chloride is used for pickling brines. The addition of calcium chloride accelerates the fermentation process during pickling. And, it also enhances the firmness of the cucumbers.
Replacement in Low Sodium Food
Calcium chloride has low sodium levels compared to table salt (sodium chloride). Hence, calcium chloride is a replacement in foods that requires low sodium.
For Brewing Beer
Beer contains calcium chloride and it is this ingredient that influences its types and quality. Calcium chloride is among the many brewing salts used by brewers to make a stable beer.
Calcium chloride amends mineral levels and alters the level of the PH of the beer produced. Definitely, you will be able to distinguish between a beer with calcium chloride and a beer without calcium chloride.
A beer with calcium chloride is sweet full and has a pleasing beer flavor. Also, the use of calcium chloride in brewing beer can improve yeast growth, accelerate oxalate removal and preserve mash enzymes.
Purification of Bottled Water
To purify bottled water, magnesium chloride, potassium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, and diverse other minerals are used today by mostly all bottled water companies.
But, calcium chloride is preferred because it adds a salty, clean, and even sweet taste to purified water when normally it would be a dull taste after distillation.
Also, using calcium chloride to purify bottled water prevents over hydration caused by consuming too much water and electrolytes. It does this by balancing electrolytes present in the body after you have sweated.
Asides from brewing beer, making cheese, purifying water, and every other use mentioned above. Other common uses for calcium chloride in food include:
- Preserving the texture, color, and firmness of canned vegetables
- Serving as a supplement for calcium in dairy products
- As a tenderizer in meats
- Assisting the refrigeration of ice cream and various frozen dessert products
- Used for coagulation when making tofu
Downsides to using calcium chloride
In as much as there are advantages or benefits to using calcium chloride, there are also disadvantages or downsides to using calcium chloride.
Although calcium chloride is safe, beneficial, and environment-friendly, it could pose a risk to your health and body. For instance, if calcium chloride comes in contact with your eyes or skin, it could cause irritation.
According to IPCS (the international program on chemical safety), touching this ingredient for a long time can cause contact dermatitis.
Another risk associated with calcium chloride is the irritation of the respiratory tract. And this irritation occurs after inhalation of calcium chloride.
A home remedy for irritation is to splash a little bit of water either on the skin, eye, or other affected areas. You could also try to get fresh air if the respiratory tract is affected.
It is very safe and healthy to consume calcium chloride but if consumption is done in large quantities, it could become dangerous. You will experience symptoms like nausea, stomach problems, vomiting, etc.
A simple home remedy is to consume plenty of milk or water if you consume calcium chloride in excess. Also, call a doctor close to you if complications occur after irritation.
Types of calcium chloride
There are two types of calcium chloride. These types are based on the quantity of crystalline water.
The types are anhydrous and dehydrate. Anhydrous calcium chloride is commonly used as a drying agent for liquids. Dihydrate calcium chloride is commonly found in the market and is mostly used for dust and deicing.
Based on the different uses, calcium chloride can be classified into two: food grade and industrial grade. The food grade is the kind we use to prepared dishes while the industrial-grade is used by industries.
For example, the industrial-grade of calcium chloride is used as an additive in plastics and also in fire extinguishers.
Properties of calcium chloride
Most people will ask “how can I identify calcium chloride? Calcium chloride is white and colorless. It could be deliquescent or hygroscopic. Deliquescent meaning that it could absorb moisture from the atmosphere, become dissolved, and form a solution.
And hygroscopic meaning that calcium chloride can retain moisture. So, when calcium chloride has absorbed enough moisture, it changes to liquid brine.
Calcium chloride has different appearances ranging from solutions to powder to flakes to granular.
Calcium chloride can react with other ingredients such as sodium bicarbonate, potassium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, and sodium carbonate.
Calcium chloride has the ability to dissolve in food or other liquid. This ingredient is highly soluble in water and even ethanol. When calcium chloride is dissolved in water, the calcium ions are separated from the calcium ions.
This separation is represented in the equation below:
Cacl2(aq) – Ca2+ (aq) +2Cl- (aq)
Medical uses of calcium chloride
Other than being used in food, there are medical uses of calcium chloride.
- As an injection to boost calcium in blood plasma.
- Used to treat cases of electrolyte imbalance such as hypocalcemia
- It could serve as a direct supplement like calcium carbonate and calcium nitrate.
- It helps to release essential enzymes and hormones for the proper functioning of the body.
- The intake of calcium makes the bones and teeth strong.
- Used to protect the heart and lungs from high magnesium levels.
5 most frequently asked questions
Is calcium chloride natural?
Calcium chloride is natural except when it is not made from the main traditional brine process.
Is calcium chloride dairy-free?
Calcium chloride is dairy-free because it is gotten from limestone.
Is calcium chloride gluten-free?
Yes!! It is gluten-free because it doesn’t contain rye, wheat, or any grain.
Is calcium chloride vegan?
Yes. Calcium chloride is vegan and suitable for diets containing veggies, grains, nuts, and fruits (vegan diet)
Is calcium chloride safe for consumption?
Calcium chloride is safe for consumption and can be used in food. It only poses a health risk when it is used excessively and without caution.
Calcium chloride can be used for lots of purposes as explained in this article. From beer brewing to bottled water purification to cheese making, brine pickling, and more.
Calcium chloride is an amazing inorganic ingredient that is very useful in food. Calcium chloride causes little or no harm to our body or environment, so, it is worth a try.