Calcium Hypochlorite in Nairobi, Kenya
What is Calcium Hypochlorite?
Calcium hypochlorite is an inorganic compound with formula Ca(OCl)2. It is the main active ingredient of commercial products called bleaching powder, chlorine powder, or chlorinated lime, used for water treatment and as a bleaching agent. This compound is relatively stable and has greater available chlorine than sodium hypochlorite (liquid bleach). It is a white solid, although commercial samples appear yellow. It strongly smells of chlorine, owing to its slow decomposition in moist air.
Calcium hypochlorite is commonly used to sanitize public swimming pools and disinfect drinking water. Generally the commercial substances are sold with a purity of 65% to 73% with other chemicals present, such as calcium chloride and calcium carbonate, resulting from the manufacturing process. As a swimming pool chemical, it is blended with other chemicals less often than other forms of chlorine, due to dangerous reactions with some common pool chemicals. In solution, calcium hypochlorite could be used as a general purpose sanitizer, but due to calcium residue, sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is usually preferred.
2. Organic chemistry
Calcium hypochlorite is a general oxidizing agent and therefore finds some use in organic chemistry. For instance the compound is used to cleave glycols, α-hydroxy carboxylic acids and keto acids to yield fragmented aldehydes or carboxylic acids. Calcium hypochlorite can also be used in the haloform reaction to manufacture chloroform . Calcium hypochlorite can be used to oxidize thiol and sulfide byproducts in organic synthesis and thereby reduce their odour and make them safe to dispose of.
Calcium hypochlorite is strongly basic. It is also a strong oxidizing agent, as it contains a chlorine atom at the valence I.
Calcium hypochlorite is stored dry and cold, away from any acid, organic materials, and metals. The hydrated form is safer to handle.