Calcium hypochlorite is a white, concentrated chemical sold as a powder, as crystals and in tablets. All are used to disinfect and sanitize drinking water and swimming pool water. When combined with water, calcium hypochlorite releases oxygen and a high concentration of chlorine molecules. Chlorine is an effective way to kill bacterial and fungal populations in water sources, and, compared with other sources of chlorine for water purification, it is easier and safer to use. However, there are some downsides to be aware of in calcium hypochlorite use.
One of the primary benefits of calcium hypochlorite is that a relatively small amount of the chemical can successfully disinfect large amounts of water, making it one of the most cost-effective choices in water sanitation. According to Survivaltopics.com, a site devoted to providing readers information about surviving outdoors and during emergency situations, a 1-lb. bag of calcium hypochlorite in granular form can treat up to 10,000 gallons of water.
Ease of Use
Although using chlorine as a water disinfectant is generally simple and efficient, calcium hypochlorite is preferred over the other common forms of chlorine water treatment–chlorine gas and liquid bleach (also known as sodium hypochlorite)–because it is more stable, requires less equipment to use and is easier to transport. Chlorine gas is highly effective but must be handled with extreme care because of its hazardous, corrosive nature. Liquid bleach is most useful when treating only small amounts of water. By contrast, calcium hypochlorite is safer to handle than chlorine gas and can be used on much larger volumes of water than bleach.
Length of Storage
Another benefit of calcium hypochlorite is that it can be stored for long periods of time without any of its disinfectant ability diminishing. Other forms of chlorine, such as liquid bleach, degrade in a matter of months. In order to be certain that your bleach has the optimal level of chlorine, a representative of Clorox says, you should change your supply of bleach every three months.
The main drawback in using calcium hypochlorite is the need to store the chemical properly to prevent any possible contact with heat or moisture. If calcium hypochlorite is exposed to even small amounts of either, it can cause violent explosions, fires and the release of highly toxic chlorine gas. Additionally, if the chemical is exposed to fire, it can cause a sharp increase in the fire’s intensity. Calcium hypochlorite must be stored at all times in a dry, well-ventilated, cool area.