|Jmol-3D images||Image 1
|Molar mass||100.0869 g/mol|
|Appearance||Fine white powder; chalky taste|
|Density||2.711 g/cm3 (calcite)
2.83 g/cm3 (aragonite)
|Melting point||825 °C (aragonite)
1339 °C (calcite)
|Solubility in water||0.0013 g/100 mL (25°C)|
|Solubility product, Ksp||4.8×10−9|
|Solubility in dilute acids||soluble|
|Refractive index (nD)||1.59|
|Std enthalpy of
|EU Index||Not listed|
|Flash point||825 °C; 1,517 °F; 1,098 K|
|LD50||6450 mg/kg (oral, rat)|
|Other anions||Calcium bicarbonate|
|Other cations||Magnesium carbonate
|Related compounds||Calcium sulfate|
| N (what is: Y/N?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime, and is created when Ca ions in hard water react with carbonate ions creating limescale. It is commonly used medicinally as a calcium supplement or as an antacid, but excessive consumption can be hazardous.
Calcium carbonate shares the typical properties of other carbonates. Notably:
Calcium carbonate will react with water that is saturated with carbon dioxide to form the soluble calcium bicarbonate.
This reaction is important in the erosion of carbonate rocks, forming caverns, and leads to hard water in many regions.
An unusual form of calcium carbonate is ikaite with crystal water, CaCO3·6H2O. Ikaite is stable only below 6 °C.
The vast majority of calcium carbonate used in industry is extracted by mining or quarrying. Pure calcium carbonate (e.g. for food or pharmaceutical use), can be produced from a pure quarried source (usually marble).
Alternatively, calcium carbonate is prepared from calcium oxide. Water is added to give calcium hydroxide, and carbon dioxide is passed through this solution to precipitate the desired calcium carbonate, referred to in the industry as precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC):
Calcite, aragonite and vaterite are pure calcium carbonate minerals. Industrially important source rocks which are predominantly calcium carbonate include limestone, chalk, marble and travertine.
Eggshells, snail shells and most seashells are predominantly calcium carbonate and can be used as industrial sources of that chemical.  Oyster shells have enjoyed recent recognition as a source of dietary calcium, but are also a practical industrial source. While not practical as an industrial source, dark green vegetables such as Broccoli and Kale contain dietarily significant amounts of calcium carbonate.
Carbonate is found frequently in geologic settings and constitute an enormous carbon reservoir. Calcium carbonate occurs as aragonite and calcite. The carbonate minerals form the rock types: limestone, chalk, marble, travertine, tufa, and others. Purity of Calcium Carbonate has been found in some mines to be 99.2% pure.
In tropic settings, the waters are warm and clear. Corals are more abundant in this environment than towards the poles where the waters are cold. Calcium carbonate contributors, including plankton (such as coccoliths and planktic foraminifera), coralline algae, sponges, brachiopods, echinoderms, bryozoa and mollusks, are typically found in shallow water environments where sunlight and filterable food are more abundant. Cold-water carbonates do exist at higher latitudes but have a very slow growth rate. The calcification processes are changed by the ocean acidification.
Where the oceanic crust is subducted under a continental plate sediments will be carried down to warmer zones in the astenosphere and mesosphere where the calcium carbonate is decomposed to carbon dioxide which will give rise to explosive volcanic eruptions.
The carbonate compensation depth (CCD) is the point in the ocean where the rate of precipitation of calcium carbonate is balanced by the rate of dissolution due to the conditions present. Deep in the ocean, the temperature drops and pressure increases. Calcium carbonate is unusual in that its solubility increases with decreasing temperature. Increasing pressure also increases the solubility of calcium carbonate. The CCD can range from 4–6 km below sea level.
Calcium carbonate can preserve fossils through permineralization. Most of the vertebrate fossils of the Two Medicine Formation—a geologic formation known for its duck-billed dinosaur eggs—are preserved by CaCO3 permineralization. This type of preservation preserves high levels of detail, even down to the microscopic level. However, it also leaves specimens vulnerable to weathering when exposed to the surface.
The main use of calcium carbonate is in the construction industry, either as a building material or limestone aggregate for roadbuilding or as an ingredient of cement or as the starting material for the preparation of builder's lime by burning in a kiln. However, due to weathering mainly caused by acid rain, calcium carbonate (in limestone form) is no longer used for building purposes on its own, and only as a raw/primary substance for building materials.
Calcium carbonate is also used in the purification of iron from iron ore in a blast furnace. The carbonate is calcined in situ to give calcium oxide, which forms a slag with various impurities present, and separates from the purified iron.
In the oil industry, calcium carbonate is added to drilling fluids as a formation-bridging and filtercake-sealing agent; it is also a weighting material which increases the density of drilling fluids to control the downhole pressure. Calcium carbonate is added to swimming pools, as a pH corrector for maintaining alkalinity and offsetting the acidic properties of the disinfectant agent.
It is also used as a raw material in the refining of sugar from sugar beet; It is calcined in a kiln with anthracite to produce calcium oxide + carbon dioxide. This burnt lime is then slaked in sweet water to produce a calcium hydroxide suspension for the precipitation of impurities in raw juice during carbonatation.
Calcium carbonate has traditionally been a major component of blackboard chalk. However, modern manufactured chalk is mostly gypsum, hydrated calcium sulfate CaSO4·2H2O. Calcium carbonate is a main source for growing Seacrete, or Biorock. Precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC), pre-dispersed in slurry form, is a common filler material for latex gloves with the aim of achieving maximum saving in material and production costs.[dead link]
Fine ground calcium carbonate (GCC) is an essential ingredient in the microporous film used in babies' diapers and some building films as the pores are nucleated around the calcium carbonate particles during the manufacture of the film by biaxial stretching. GCC or PCC is used as a filler in paper because they are cheaper than wood fiber. In terms of market volume, GCC are the most important types of fillers currently used. Printing and writing paper can contain 10–20% calcium carbonate. In North America, calcium carbonate has begun to replace kaolin in the production of glossy paper. Europe has been practicing this as alkaline papermaking or acid-free papermaking for some decades. PCC has a very fine and controlled particle size, on the order of 2 micrometres in diameter, useful in coatings for paper.
Calcium carbonate is widely used as an extender in paints, in particular matte emulsion paint where typically 30% by weight of the paint is either chalk or marble. It is also a popular filler in plastics. Some typical examples include around 15 to 20% loading of chalk in unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) drain pipe, 5 to 15% loading of stearate coated chalk or marble in uPVC window profile. PVC cables can use calcium carbonate at loadings of up to 70 phr (parts per hundred parts of resin) to improve mechanical properties (tensile strength and elongation) and electrical properties (volume resistivity). Polypropylene compounds are often filled with calcium carbonate to increase rigidity, a requirement that becomes important at high use temperatures. Here the percentage is often 20–40%. It also routinely used as a filler in thermosetting resins (sheet and bulk molding compounds) and has also been mixed with ABS, and other ingredients, to form some types of compression molded "clay" poker chips. Precipitated calcium carbonate, made by dropping calcium oxide into water, is used by itself or with additives as a white paint, known as whitewashing.
Calcium carbonate is added to a wide range of trade and do it yourself adhesives, sealants, and decorating fillers. Ceramic tile adhesives typically contain 70 to 80% limestone. Decorating crack fillers contain similar levels of marble or dolomite. It is also mixed with putty in setting stained glass windows, and as a resist to prevent glass from sticking to kiln shelves when firing glazes and paints at high temperature.
In ceramics/glazing applications, calcium carbonate is known as whiting, and is a common ingredient for many glazes in its white powdered form. When a glaze containing this material is fired in a kiln, the whiting acts as a flux material in the glaze. Ground calcium carbonate is an abrasive (both as scouring powder and as an ingredient of household scouring creams), in particular in its calcite form, which has the relatively low hardness level of 3 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, and will therefore not scratch glass and most other ceramics, enamel, bronze, iron, and steel, and have a moderate effect on softer metals like aluminium and copper. A paste made from calcium carbonate and deionized water can be used to clean tarnish on silver.
Calcium carbonate is widely used medicinally as an inexpensive dietary calcium supplement or gastric antacid. It may be used as a phosphate binder for the treatment of hyperphosphatemia (primarily in patients with chronic renal failure). It is also used in the pharmaceutical industry as an inert filler for tablets and other pharmaceuticals.
Calcium carbonate is known among IBS sufferers to help reduce diarrhea. Some individuals report being symptom-free since starting supplementation. The process in which calcium carbonate reduces diarrhea is by binding water in the bowel, which creates a stool that is firmer and better formed. Calcium carbonate supplements are often combined with magnesium in various proportions. This should be taken into account as magnesium is known to cause diarrhea.
Calcium carbonate is used in the production of toothpaste and has seen a resurgence as a food preservative and color retainer, when used in or with products such as organic apples or food.
Excess calcium from supplements, fortified food and high-calcium diets, can cause the milk-alkali syndrome, which has serious toxicity and can be fatal. In 1915, Bertram Sippy introduced the "Sippy regimen" of hourly ingestion of milk and cream, and the gradual addition of eggs and cooked cereal, for 10 days, combined with alkaline powders, which provided symptomatic relief for peptic ulcer disease. Over the next several decades, the Sippy regimen resulted in renal failure, alkalosis, and hypercalcaemia, mostly in men with peptic ulcer disease. These adverse effects were reversed when the regimen stopped, but it was fatal in some patients with protracted vomiting. Milk alkali syndrome declined in men after effective treatments for peptic ulcer disease arose. During the past 15 years, it has been reported in women taking calcium supplements above the recommended range of 1.2 to 1.5 g daily, for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, and is exacerbated by dehydration. Calcium has been added to over-the-counter products, which contributes to inadvertent excessive intake. Excessive calcium intake can lead to hypercalcemia, complications of which include vomiting, abdominal pain and altered mental status.
As a food additive it is designated E170; INS number 170. Used as an acidity regulator, anticaking agent, stabiliser or colour it is approved for usage in the EU, USA and Australia and New Zealand. It is used in some soy milk and almond milk products as a source of dietary calcium; one study suggests that calcium carbonate might be as bioavailable as the calcium in cow's milk. Calcium carbonate is also used as a firming agent in many canned or bottled vegetable products.
In 1989, a researcher, Ken Simmons, introduced CaCO3 into the Whetstone Brook in Massachusetts. His hope was that the calcium carbonate would counter the acid in the stream from acid rain and save the trout that had ceased to spawn. Although his experiment was a success, it did increase the amount of aluminium ions in the area of the brook that was not treated with the limestone. This shows that CaCO3 can be added to neutralize the effects of acid rain in river ecosystems. Currently calcium carbonate is used to neutralize acidic conditions in both soil and water. Since the 1970s, such liming has been practiced on a large scale in Sweden to mitigate acidification and several thousand lakes and streams are limed repeatedly.
Calcium carbonate is also used in flue gas desulfurisation applications eliminating harmful SO2 and NO2 emissions from coal and other fossil fuels burnt in large fossil fuel power stations.
Calcination of limestone using charcoal fires to produce quicklime has been practiced since antiquity by cultures all over the world. The temperature at which limestone yields calcium oxide is usually given as 825 °C, but stating an absolute threshold is misleading. Calcium carbonate exists in equilibrium with calcium oxide and carbon dioxide at any temperature. At each temperature there is a partial pressure of carbon dioxide that is in equilibrium with calcium carbonate. At room temperature the equilibrium overwhelmingly favors calcium carbonate, because the equilibrium CO2 pressure is only a tiny fraction of the partial CO2 pressure in air, which is about 0.035 kPa.
At temperatures above 550 °C the equilibrium CO2 pressure begins to exceed the CO2 pressure in air. So above 550 °C, calcium carbonate begins to outgas CO2 into air. However, in a charcoal fired kiln, the concentration of CO2 will be much higher than it is in air. Indeed if all the oxygen in the kiln is consumed in the fire, then the partial pressure of CO2 in the kiln can be as high as 20 kPa.
The table shows that this equilibrium pressure is not achieved until the temperature is nearly 800 °C. For the outgassing of CO2 from calcium carbonate to happen at an economically useful rate, the equilibrium pressure must significantly exceed the ambient pressure of CO2. And for it to happen rapidly, the equilibrium pressure must exceed total atmospheric pressure of 101 kPa, which happens at 898 °C.
|Equilibrium pressure of CO2 over CaCO3 (P) vs. temperature (T).|
Calcium carbonate is poorly soluble in pure water (47 mg/L at normal atmospheric CO2 partial pressure as shown below).
The equilibrium of its solution is given by the equation (with dissolved calcium carbonate on the right):
|CaCO3 Ca2+ + CO32–||Ksp = 3.7×10−9 to 8.7×10−9 at 25 °C|
where the solubility product for [Ca2+][CO32–] is given as anywhere from Ksp = 3.7×10−9 to Ksp = 8.7×10−9 at 25 °C, depending upon the data source. What the equation means is that the product of molar concentration of calcium ions (moles of dissolved Ca2+ per liter of solution) with the molar concentration of dissolved CO32– cannot exceed the value of Ksp. This seemingly simple solubility equation, however, must be taken along with the more complicated equilibrium of carbon dioxide with water (see carbonic acid). Some of the CO32– combines with H+ in the solution according to:
|HCO3– H+ + CO32–||Ka2 = 5.61×10−11 at 25 °C|
HCO3– is known as the bicarbonate ion. Calcium bicarbonate is many times more soluble in water than calcium carbonate—indeed it exists only in solution.
Some of the HCO3– combines with H+ in solution according to:
|H2CO3 H+ + HCO3–||Ka1 = 2.5×10−4 at 25 °C|
Some of the H2CO3 breaks up into water and dissolved carbon dioxide according to:
|H2O + CO2(dissolved) H2CO3||Kh = 1.70×10−3 at 25 °C|
And dissolved carbon dioxide is in equilibrium with atmospheric carbon dioxide according to:
|where kH = 29.76 atm/(mol/L) at 25 °C (Henry constant), being the CO2 partial pressure.|
For ambient air, is around 3.5×10−4 atmospheres (or equivalently 35 Pa). The last equation above fixes the concentration of dissolved CO2 as a function of , independent of the concentration of dissolved CaCO3. At atmospheric partial pressure of CO2, dissolved CO2 concentration is 1.2×10−5 moles/liter. The equation before that fixes the concentration of H2CO3 as a function of [CO2]. For [CO2]=1.2×10−5, it results in [H2CO3]=2.0×10−8 moles per liter. When [H2CO3] is known, the remaining three equations together with
|H2O H+ + OH–||K = 10−14 at 25 °C|
(which is true for all aqueous solutions), and the fact that the solution must be electrically neutral,
make it possible to solve simultaneously for the remaining five unknown concentrations (note that the above form of the neutrality equation is valid only if calcium carbonate has been put in contact with pure water or with a neutral pH solution; in the case where the origin water solvent pH is not neutral, the equation is modified).
|Calcium ion solubility as a function of
CO2 partial pressure at 25 °C (Ksp = 4.47×10−9)
|10−12||12.0||5.19 × 10−3|
|10−10||11.3||1.12 × 10−3|
|10−8||10.7||2.55 × 10−4|
|10−6||9.83||1.20 × 10−4|
|10−4||8.62||3.16 × 10−4|
|3.5 × 10−4||8.27||4.70 × 10−4|
|10−3||7.96||6.62 × 10−4|
|10−2||7.30||1.42 × 10−3|
|10−1||6.63||3.05 × 10−3|
|1||5.96||6.58 × 10−3|
|10||5.30||1.42 × 10−2|
The table on the right shows the result for [Ca2+] and [H+] (in the form of pH) as a function of ambient partial pressure of CO2 (Ksp = 4.47×10−9 has been taken for the calculation).
The effect of the latter is especially evident in day-to-day life of people who have hard water. Water in aquifers underground can be exposed to levels of CO2 much higher than atmospheric. As such water percolates through calcium carbonate rock, the CaCO3 dissolves according to the second trend. When that same water then emerges from the tap, in time it comes into equilibrium with CO2 levels in the air by outgassing its excess CO2. The calcium carbonate becomes less soluble as a result and the excess precipitates as lime scale. This same process is responsible for the formation of stalactites and stalagmites in limestone caves.
Two hydrated phases of calcium carbonate, monohydrocalcite, CaCO3·H2O and ikaite, CaCO3·6H2O, may precipitate from water at ambient conditions and persist as metastable phases.
The maximum solubility of calcium carbonate in normal atmospheric conditions ( = 3.5 × 10−4 atm) varies as the pH of the solution is adjusted. This is for example the case in a swimming pool where the pH is maintained between 7 and 8 (by addition of sodium bisulfate NaHSO4 to decrease the pH or of sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3 to increase it). From the above equations for the solubility product, the hydration reaction and the two acid reactions, the following expression for the maximum [Ca2+] can be easily deduced:
showing a quadratic dependence in [H+]. The numerical application with the above values of the constants gives
Solutions of strong (HCl), moderately strong (sulfamic) or weak (acetic, citric, sorbic, lactic, phosphoric) acids are commercially available. They are commonly used as descaling agents to remove limescale deposits. The maximum amount of CaCO3 that can be "dissolved" by one liter of an acid solution can be calculated using the above equilibrium equations.
|Dissolved CaCO3 (g per liter of acid)||50.0||5.00||0.514||0.0849||0.0504||0.0474||0.0471||0.0470||0.0470|
where the initial state is the acid solution with no Ca2+ (not taking into account possible CO2 dissolution) and the final state is the solution with saturated Ca2+. For strong acid concentrations, all species have a negligible concentration in the final state with respect to Ca2+ and A− so that the neutrality equation reduces approximately to 2[Ca2+] = [A−] yielding . When the concentration decreases, [HCO3−] becomes non-negligible so that the preceding expression is no longer valid. For vanishing acid concentrations, one can recover the final pH and the solubility of CaCO3 in pure water.
|Dissolved CaCO3 (g per liter of acid)||49.5||4.99||0.513||0.0848||0.0504||0.0474||0.0471||0.0470||0.0470|
For the same total acid concentration, the initial pH of the weak acid is less acid than the one of the strong acid; however, the maximum amount of CaCO3 which can be dissolved is approximately the same. This is because in the final state, the pH is larger than the pKA, so that the weak acid is almost completely dissociated, yielding in the end as many H+ ions as the strong acid to "dissolve" the calcium carbonate.
|Dissolved CaCO3 (g per liter of acid)||62.0||7.39||0.874||0.123||0.0536||0.0477||0.0471||0.0471||0.0470|
where [A] = [H3PO4] + [H2PO4−] + [HPO42−] + [PO43−] is the total acid concentration. Thus phosphoric acid is more efficient than a monoacid since at the final almost neutral pH, the second dissociated state concentration [HPO42−] is not negligible (see phosphoric acid).
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