Calcium hypochlorite sounds like a very intimidating word with a super complex chemical compound behind it, right? Not necessarily. Things aren’t always what they seem, and official, scientific terms can make just about anything sound frightening and overwhelming. Nevertheless, we know you have questions. So we’ll start with the easiest to answer. Which is what calcium hypochlorite is.
What Is Calcium Hypochlorite?
Calcium hypochlorite is a commonly used chemical compound for sanitizing water, or more specifically, pool water. Calcium hypochlorite is made when lime, calcium oxide, is treated with chlorine gas. The strong base that it creates is typically a granulated solid with a high pH level. It has other names as well. This inorganic compound is also known as hypochlorous acid calcium salt, calcium oxychloride, bleaching powder, and chloride of lime.
We know what you’re thinking: A chemical treated with chlorine gas? Isn’t that dangerous? But it’s so commonly used nowadays that you most likely come into contact with it daily and don’t even notice.
Is calcium hypochlorite safe?
Yes, calcium hypochlorite is safe. Since it was patented in 1799, it has been used to sanitize many things, including trenches and wounds during the First World War. And in more recent times, its uses are so common that you’ve likely encountered it in your daily life before!
What is calcium hypochlorite used in?
In modern times it’s used to sanitize public swimming pools and disinfect drinking water. Because of its prominent place in the world of sanitization, it’s used in most public areas that have to do with water. And as we’ve said, that includes public pools and drinking fountains. It can also be used as a bleaching agent.
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How does calcium hypochlorite work?
But how does this chemical work, exactly? Could it cause harmful reactions? The short answer is no, that’s very unlikely. The longer answer requires delving into how it works. Calcium hypochlorite works by disrupting the function of the cells of microbes and other organic contaminants. It disrupts their cells by bonding with the enzymes and other cell components.
This, in turn, will disable the bacteria’s internal workings, shutting it down and rupturing its cell walls. That’s what leaves your water in a drip-drop shape! But just because it’s well-known and commonly used doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Always act responsibly when handling chemicals, and do not mix them with any other chemicals.
How to Safely Handle Calcium Hypochlorite
Just because this chemical compound isn’t particularly dangerous doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be handled with care. It should not come into contact with any sort of combustible while you handle it, nor should it come into contact with bare skin. Wear gloves as well as protective goggles when handling this chemical, and if you can, leave the handling and usage up to the professionals. It’s best to leave the compound alone if you do not have proper training.
To store your calcium hypochlorite, keep it in closed containers and make sure no moisture can enter the bins or tubs. Keep the containers in a cool, well-ventilated area, and do your best to keep them from overheating. Try to prevent your containers from getting damaged, and handle them as gently as you can. It’s also best to try and avoid storing calcium hypochlorite for long periods of time.
Adding it to your drinking water
If you have some calcium hypochlorite and plan on sanitizing your drinking water yourself, know that it’s not a difficult process at all. With this stuff, a little truly goes a long way. There should be instructions to guide you on the chemical’s packaging, so always double-check the instructions before adding any amount of calcium hypochlorite to drinking water.
If you need a guideline, add one teaspoon of the granules to two gallons of water. Be sure to mix it thoroughly and make sure the granules are completely dissolved before using. After adding the chemical, let the water stand for at least a half hour. If there is a strong chlorine smell, it’s best to aerate the water for longer. Allow it to sit for an additional 15 minutes.
Other Ways to Sanitize Your Drinking Water
Maybe now that you’ve read up on calcium hypochlorite, you’ve changed your mind about using it in your drinking water. That’s fine, but your water still needs sanitization! We’ve brought together a few of the best alternatives that you’ll hopefully feel more comfortable using.
This is the best method for disinfecting your drinking water and is the best way to clean water in small batches. Start by examining your water. If it is cloudy, you’ll want to filter it through either a coffee filter, a clean cloth, or a paper boiling water towel. Once your water has been filtered and is no longer as cloudy, you’ll want to take a pot and put it on your stovetop.
Fill up the pot with your filtered water and bring it to a rolling boil, and then allow it to continue to boil for one minute at the very least. If you’re 5,000 feet above sea level, let it boil for 3 minutes. Once it’s boiled, simply allow it to cool and then store it in clean containers. After that, you’re done! No added chemicals, and no risk.
Common household iodine
Household iodine is commonly found in first aid kits, and you probably have some in your medicine cabinet. To disinfect your drinking water, take your two percent tincture of iodine and add five drops to each quart (or liter) of water that you plan on sanitizing. You may notice that your water is cloudy — and if it is, you need to add 10 drops of iodine. After the iodine has been added, stir your water and then allow it to stand for at least half an hour before you cook with or drink your water.
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Water disinfection tablets
If you’re looking for easier ways to disinfect your drinking water and want a simpler process, you should consider using water disinfection tablets. These tiny tablets can contain iodine, chlorine dioxide, chlorine, and many other sanitizing agents. The tablets are easy to get your hands on, and each of them comes with its own instructions. Make sure you read the instructions carefully before you begin the disinfecting process, and follow each step carefully.
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Common household bleach
If you don’t have the option to boil your water or get any supplies, you can use common household bleach to sanitize drinking water. This method should be a last resort. You can only use regular and unscented chlorine bleach to clean your drinking water, and it’s important to read the label closely.
Do not use any color safe, scented, or any bleach with any additional cleaners. Make sure your water is not cloudy by filtering it first. Your bleach should be less than a year old. To disinfect your water with bleach, first, locate a clean dropper. The amount of bleach that you should add to your water changes depending on whether your bleach is 6 or 8.25 percent bleach.
For six percent, add one-fourth of a teaspoon to two gallons of water. For eight, add one-eighth of a teaspoon to two gallons. Basically, the higher the concentration, the less should be added to your water. Then once you’ve added the appropriate amount of bleach, stir and then allow the water to stand for at least a half hour. It should smell slightly of chlorine.
Charcoal water filter
Activated charcoal is one of the best ways to clean your drinking water.
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This DIY filter is so easy to make, too. Start with cooled fresh charcoal from a grill or a campfire and a container. You can use either a bucket or a long plastic bottle. You’ll also need grass or sand and a large stone. Start assembling by crafting a funnel. That will act as a filter. You can craft a funnel out of either a large leaf or even a strip of tree bark.
For our instructions, we’ll be using a plastic bottle as our example. Flip the plastic bottle upside down and then poke a hole in the bottle cap, which should be facing the ground. Cut the top of your water bottle off — to clarify, this is technically the bottom of the bottle and the end opposite to the side with the cap. Now take your stone and use it to crush your charcoal so you can place it in the funnel that you fashioned earlier. Then place your sand or grass on top of the charcoal.
That’s all you need to do! Simply pour the water that you wish to filter into the charcoal filter you just made. Your water should fall slowly through. For the absolute best results, it’s best to boil your filtered water after it has gone through the charcoal once or twice. All in all, this is a great method to clean your drinking water without calcium hypochlorite.
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You’ve probably seen distilled water on shelves in stores before and wondered if you could make distilled water yourself. You can — and you can get started on this purification method today.
The key to sanitizing your water with distillation is evaporation. Distillation is very similar to boiling your water. Simply heat up your water and cover the pot with a lid. The heated water will turn into vapor, and then the vapor back into the water again. When that happens, and the vapor condenses back into the water again, it will leave behind mineral residue and leave you with clean water.
Good, Clean Science!
You don’t need to be an experienced chemist to learn about the safe management and usage of various chemical compounds. So whether you’re researching for your drinking water or science class, know that you’re well equipped with all the knowledge you could possibly need on calcium hypochlorite! Remember to be safe and handle your chemicals with care.
What do you think about calcium hypochlorite? Do you use it in your drinking water? Leave us a comment down below and let us know. We’re always looking forward to hearing from you.
Mady Oswald is an author and freelance writer in both realism and fiction, with a love for baking and animals.
Tom is a Marketing & Communications graduate interested in nature, gardening, agriculture, and traveling. For the last decade, Tom has turned his hobbies into a full-time job, creating useful resources and guides for all our readers. If he is not working on his next article, you will find Tom spending quality time with family or taking care of his own back garden.
Last update on 2023-06-02 at 14:20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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