What is calcium hydroxide

Also known as slaked lime, caustic lime, slack lime, and pickling lime, calcium hydroxide is an inorganic compound commonly used in food production and various industrial applications. Calcium hydroxide features a colorless crystal or white powder form, and is produced by combining calcium oxide with water. In a laboratory setting, calcium hydroxide is created by mixing calcium chloride with sodium hydroxide.

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Calcium Hydroxide Uses and Applications

One of the most common calcium hydroxide applications is processing the water used to produce certain types of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. It also acts as a pickling ingredient in cucumbers and other food products in the food and nutrition industry , as well as to provide a calcium supplement for infant formula and fruit drinks. Another food product application is the binding of corn flour used to make corn tortillas.

Calcium hydroxide can also serve as a substitute for lye in hair products used to relax and straighten curly hair, as it reduces the risk of hair and skin damage. Calcium hydroxide works by breaking down sulfide bonds that connect the amino acids in the hair strands, altering their physical structure. Dentists sometimes use calcium hydroxide as a tooth disinfectant when treating existing infections as well as to relieve pain and swelling in certain oral surgery procedures.

Another calcium hydroxide application is in the production of leather. Mixing calcium hydroxide with warm water forms a solution used for separating the fur from the animal’s hide. This is followed by immersing the hide in a sulfate bath to remove any remaining solution and balance the pH level.


Calcium hydroxide’s chemical formula is Ca(OH)2 and is relatively insoluble in water — its solubility product is 5.5×10−6. As with all metal hydroxides, it adopts a polymeric structure that exhibits strong hydrogen bonds between layers. Calcium hydroxide also features a melting point of 580° C (1,076° F), a density of 2.211 g/cm3 and a molar mass of 74.093 g/mol. Although calcium hydroxide powder is odorless and exhibits low toxicity, it does pose certain health risks. Unprotected exposure can lead to severe skin irritation and potentially cause chemical burns and blindness.

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If you know where to get top-quality calcium hydroxide products for your U.S.-based company, Brenntag can help. With an expansive inventory consisting of more than 10,000 chemicals and ingredients, we’re sure to have the right product for your needs. We’re also known for our unparalleled expertise, attentive customer service and commitment to forming lasting partnerships with our customers. Contact us for additional product and pricing information today.

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