What is the Common Name for Calcium Hydroxide?


Calcium hydroxide is a chemical compound with a variety of uses in different industries. It is commonly known by several names, including slaked lime, hydrated lime, lime water, and pickling lime. In this article, we will explore the properties, applications, and various names of calcium hydroxide.

1. Introduction to Calcium Hydroxide

Calcium hydroxide, with the chemical formula Ca(OH)2, is a white, odorless crystalline powder. It is produced through the reaction of calcium oxide (CaO) with water. The compound has a low solubility in water, which gives it a milky appearance when dissolved.

1.1 Chemical Properties

Calcium hydroxide is an alkaline compound and a strong base. It has a high pH value, typically ranging from 12 to 13. The compound readily reacts with acids to form salts and water, a process known as neutralization.

1.2 Physical Properties

In its pure form, calcium hydroxide appears as a white, fine powder. It has a density of approximately 2.21 g/cm³ and a melting point of 580 °C (1076 °F). The compound is sparingly soluble in water, with a solubility of about 1.65 g/100 mL at 25 °C (77 °F).

2. Common Names for Calcium Hydroxide

Calcium hydroxide is known by several common names, which are often used interchangeably. These names reflect its various applications and historical uses.

2.1 Slaked Lime

Slaked lime is one of the most widely recognized names for calcium hydroxide. The term “slaked” refers to the process of adding water to quicklime (calcium oxide) to produce calcium hydroxide. Slaked lime has been used for centuries in construction, agriculture, and other industries.

2.2 Hydrated Lime

Hydrated lime is another commonly used name for calcium hydroxide. The term “hydrated” signifies that the compound contains water molecules. Hydrated lime is widely used in water treatment, chemical manufacturing, and as a pH adjuster in various processes.

2.3 Lime Water

Lime water is a diluted solution of calcium hydroxide in water. It is prepared by dissolving calcium hydroxide in water until the compound reaches its solubility limit. Lime water has been historically used in medicine for its antacid properties and as an indicator for carbon dioxide in chemical experiments.

2.4 Pickling Lime

Pickling lime is a specific form of calcium hydroxide that is used in food preservation. It is commonly used in the pickling process to ensure crispness and preserve the color of fruits and vegetables. Pickling lime helps maintain the desired pH level in pickling solutions.

3. Applications of Calcium Hydroxide

Calcium hydroxide finds numerous applications across various industries due to its versatile properties. Here are some of its key applications:

3.1 Construction Industry

Calcium hydroxide is used in the construction industry for mortar and plaster applications. It acts as a binder, providing strength and durability to structures. The compound also has self-healing properties, which help in repairing cracks and fissures in concrete.

3.2 Water Treatment

Hydrated lime is commonly used in water treatment processes to adjust the pH of water and remove impurities. It helps in the precipitation of metals and the disinfection of water supplies. Lime is also used to soften hard water by removing calcium and magnesium ions.

3.3 Chemical Manufacturing

Calcium hydroxide is utilized in various chemical manufacturing processes. It is used to produce calcium-based chemicals, such as calcium stearate and calcium hypochlorite. The compound is also used as a catalyst in some chemical reactions.

3.4 Agriculture

Calcium hydroxide is used in agriculture as a soil amendment. It helps increase soil pH, neutralize acidic soils, and improve nutrient availability. The compound is also used in livestock feed to provide essential calcium supplementation.

3.5 Food Industry

Pickling lime, a specific form of calcium hydroxide, is used in the food industry for pickling fruits and vegetables. It helps maintain the desired pH level, enhance crispness, and preserve the color of the pickled produce.

4. Safety Considerations

While calcium hydroxide has various applications, it is important to handle the compound with caution due to its alkaline nature. Direct contact with calcium hydroxide can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Protective measures, such as gloves, goggles, and masks, should be used when working with calcium hydroxide to prevent any potential health hazards.

5. Conclusion

Calcium hydroxide, known by various names such as slaked lime, hydrated lime, lime water, and pickling lime, is a versatile compound with numerous applications. Its alkaline nature and unique properties make it suitable for use in construction, water treatment, chemical manufacturing, agriculture, and the food industry. Understanding the common names and applications of calcium hydroxide helps in recognizing its importance and widespread use in different sectors.

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