Calcium hypochlorite exists as a white granular powder and has the formula of Ca(OCl)2. It has a strong scent of chlorine but is more stable than chlorine. It exists as both anhydrous and hydrated forms, giving a basic aqueous solution.
The basicity of the solution arises from the hydrolysis reaction, where calcium hypochlorite is broken down into hypochlorous acid and calcium hydroxide. The basicity outweighs the acidity property since calcium hydroxide is a strong base and hypochlorous acid is a weak acid.
Calcium hypochlorite is a good chlorine derivative and can release chlorine upon reactions. Calcium hypochlorite can react with carbon dioxide to form calcium carbonate, releasing dichloride monoxide. Similarly, calcium hypochlorite can also react with hydrochloric acid to form calcium chloride, water and gaseous chlorine.
It is a solid substitute for liquid sodium hypochlorite for water treatment and bleaching.
Calcium hypochlorite is manufactured using the calcium process, where chlorine is added to calcium hydroxide, yielding calcium hypochlorite, calcium chloride and water. However, this method was not very effective and became obsolete. It was replaced by the sodium process, which accounts for 70% of the total production of calcium hypochlorite.
Calcium hypochlorite can also be manufactured using sodium process by chlorination of a slurry of lime and caustic soda and then dried under vacuum
2 NaOH + Ca(OH)2 + 2 Cl2 → Ca(OCl)2 + 2 NaCl + 2 H2O
Calcium hypochlorite can be manufactured by chlorination of hydrated lime.
2 Ca(OH)2 + 2 Cl2 → Ca(OCl)2 + CaCl2 + 2 H2O
Calcium hypochlorite may be achieved by drying a filter cake of neutral calcium hypochlorite dihydrate containing 30-50% water.
Calcium hypochlorite is an active component in bleaching powder. It is used to bleach cellulosic fabrics such as cotton and linen. It cannot be used to bleach wool, nylon and acrylics as these fibers will become yellow in color due to the formation of chloramines. Fabrics bleached with hypochlorite develop a distinctive chlorine odor.
Calcium hypochlorite is used for the disinfection of drinking water or swimming pools in the form of an algicide. Generally, it is sold as 68% calcium hypochlorite combined with calcium chloride and other salts. It is used as a sanitizer in outdoor swimming pools in combination with a cyanuric acid stabilizer, which reduces the loss of chlorine due to ultraviolet radiation. The calcium content hardens the water and tends to clog up some filters; hence, some products containing calcium hypochlorite also contain anti-scaling agents.
Calcium hypochlorite is used in place of gaseous chlorine and bleach for purifying drinking water. It is also used for treatment of wastewater effluents and pool water. Calcium hypochlorite is used to manufacture chloroform, fertilizers, and pesticides. It may be used to manufacture tablets to prevent powdering. In addition, calcium hypochlorite is used for sanitizing food and beverage containers, and equipment used in production of dairy product and hospitals. It is also used as a filler for paints, textiles and plastics, and a component in food packaging, paper plates, and cutlery.
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