Where to Buy Food Grade Calcium Chloride?
You can buy food grade Calcium Chloride locally at homebrew stores, since it is commonly used to adjust the water (lowering the pH, adding “hardness”) used in brewing beer. Also try a local gourmet market, bulk or specialty food store (think of places near you that sell coffee, nuts, and spices by weight).
You might even have luck at your local grocery store, particularly if they sell canning products; look for Pickle Crisp, a product sold by the Ball Corporation for home canning that is 100% Calcium Chloride.
Wherever you purchase, make sure that the product is pure and food grade; products used for de-icing roadways and industrial drying applications are not safe for use in food/beverage production.
You can also purchase Calcium Chloride online, in both small and bulk quantities. This is probably your best option if you don’t need it today or are looking to purchase in bulk. There are a variety of forms available, but always make sure it’s safe for use in food/beverage applications.
What is Calcium Chloride?
Calcium chloride is a water soluble, inorganic salt that can be found in nature, though it is extremely rare. In fact, it is only known to naturally occur in four highly uncommon minerals: antarcticite, chlorocalcite, sinjarite, and tachyhydrite. Since the late 1800s it has been commercially produced as a bi-product of making soda ash. Soda ash, important in the manufacture of glass, is formed during the Solvay process developed in 1861. This chemical process utilizes limestone and briny water to create soda ash, ammonia and calcium chloride.
Other uses for calcium chloride include water treatment in pools and homes. It may be utilized for a variety of medicinal applications such as antacids and calcium supplements. In its liquid form it is spread on roads to prevent the formation of ice before and during a cold snap. It is a common food additive and may be added to milk to restore protein for cheese making, used in pickles, canned foods, in sports drinks and bottled water.
Uses of Calcium Chloride in Food
Calcium Chloride is added to pickles in order to bring out their naturally zesty flavor without increasing the sodium content. It is used in canned vegetables such as tomatoes to maintain their firmness. Sliced apples are often dusted with calcium chloride to prevent them from turning brown and to “maintain their texture.” As a thickener, it is mixed in with foods that have curds, especially tofu and feta cheese.
Many sports drinks include calcium chloride in their ingredients. It is an easy way to replace electrolytes such as calcium lost thorough perspiration. Bottled water often contains it as a way to help lower a person’s sodium intake.
In the home garden, a mix of water and calcium chloride may be sprayed on tomato blossoms before they bear fruit in order to prevent blossom end rot. It is an excellent calcium supplement for zucchini, squash and other vine-ripening plants. Adding it to the soil before planting helps replace any lost minerals.
Calcium Chloride and Health
The FDA lists calcium chloride as a “generally regarded as safe (GRAS)” food additive. However, it is not permitted to be used on any crops in the United States that are deemed to be “organic” by the National Organic Program. The World Health Organization’s General Standard for Food Additives defines calcium chloride as a firming agent, food thickener, and stabilizing salt.