calcium element

Is calcium really the element in our bones?

Updated: September 2023 | 10 min read

What is calcium?

Calcium, the unsung hero of the periodic table, is more than just the stuff that makes our bones strong. It plays a vital role in our bodies, contributes to countless applications in various industries, and even holds a few surprising secrets. Join us on a whimsical journey as we delve into the fascinating world of calcium, exploring its physical properties, biological significance, practical uses, and even uncovering a hilarious joke along the way. So, grab your lab coat and let's dive into this elemental adventure!

The properties of calcium

Atomic Number:20
Atomic Symbol:Ca
Atomic Weight (amu):40.078
Melting point:842.00°C | 1547.60°F | 1115.15K
Boiling point:1548.00°C | 2818.40°F | 1821.15K

What does calcium look like?

Calcium is a chemical element, and in its pure form, it appears as a soft, silvery-white, and somewhat shiny metal. However, calcium is highly reactive with moisture and air, so it quickly tarnishes and forms a dull gray or white oxide and nitride layer on its surface. This layer can make it appear less shiny. In practical use, calcium is typically stored and transported as compounds like calcium carbonate (in the form of limestone or chalk) or calcium oxide (quicklime). When we think of calcium in dietary and biological contexts, we are usually referring to the calcium ions (Ca²⁺) released from these compounds during digestion and metabolic processes, rather than the pure metal itself.

What is the biological role of calcium?

  1. Bone and Teeth Formation: Approximately 99% of the body's calcium is stored in bones and teeth. Calcium is essential for the development, growth, and maintenance of strong and healthy bones and teeth. It provides the structural support necessary for these tissues.
  2. Muscle Function: Calcium ions are vital for muscle contraction. When a muscle receives a signal from a nerve, calcium is released from storage sites within muscle cells, allowing the muscle to contract. This process is essential for movement, including activities like walking and lifting.
  3. Nerve Transmission: Calcium ions are involved in transmitting nerve impulses throughout the nervous system. They play a role in the release of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that facilitate communication between nerve cells.
  4. Blood Clotting: Calcium is a key factor in the blood clotting process (coagulation). When a blood vessel is injured, a cascade of reactions occurs that ultimately leads to the formation of a blood clot. Calcium ions are required at various stages of this process.
  5. Cell Signaling: Calcium acts as a second messenger in many cellular signaling pathways. It helps regulate various cellular processes, including gene expression, cell division, and cell growth.
  6. Enzyme Activation: Calcium ions can activate certain enzymes, thereby influencing various metabolic reactions within cells.
  7. Cell Adhesion: Calcium ions are involved in cell-to-cell adhesion and cell-to-matrix adhesion. They help cells adhere to one another and to the extracellular matrix, which is important for tissue structure and function.
  8. Hormone Secretion: Calcium plays a role in the secretion of various hormones, including insulin from the pancreas and hormones from the parathyroid glands that regulate calcium levels in the blood.

Maintaining the right balance of calcium in the body is crucial for overall health. When calcium levels are too low or too high, it can lead to various health problems, including bone disorders, muscle weakness, and issues with nerve and cardiac function. The body tightly regulates calcium levels through mechanisms involving hormones like parathyroid hormone and calcitonin, which control calcium absorption, storage, and excretion.

What is pure calcium used for?

  • Metallurgy: Used as a deoxidizer and desulfurizer in alloy production.
  • Scientific Research: Employed in laboratories for studying its properties.
  • Calcium Batteries: Investigated for potential use in high-energy-density batteries.
  • Nuclear Reactors: Utilized as a coolant and moderator in certain reactor types.

What are the most common compounds with calcium?

  1. Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3): Found in limestone, chalk, and marble; used in construction and as an antacid and dietary supplement.
  2. Calcium Hydroxide (Ca(OH)2): Also known as slaked lime or hydrated lime; used in water treatment, construction, and food processing.
  3. Calcium Chloride (CaCl2): Used as a de-icing agent, in food preservation, as a drying agent, and in medical applications.

Where can calcium be found?

The production of calcium-bearing minerals generally involves mining or quarrying these minerals from natural deposits and then processing them to extract the calcium content. For example, calcium carbonate is extracted from limestone through processes such as crushing, grinding, and purification. Gypsum is obtained from gypsum deposits through mining and processing. It's important to note that calcium is primarily used in the form of its compounds, and these compounds are utilized in various industries for their specific properties. The production of calcium itself in its pure metallic form is relatively rare and is typically done through specialized processes, as mentioned in previous responses.

  1. China: China is a major producer of calcium-bearing minerals, primarily calcium carbonate, extracted from limestone and other sources for various industries.
  2. United States: The United States is a significant producer of calcium minerals, including calcium carbonate and gypsum, used in industries such as construction and agriculture.
  3. India: India is another prominent producer of calcium-bearing minerals, including calcium carbonate and gypsum, with applications in construction and agriculture.
  4. Russia: Russia produces calcium minerals, including calcium carbonate, as part of its mining and quarrying activities, serving industries like construction and manufacturing.
  5. Japan: Japan also produces calcium minerals, particularly calcium carbonate, which is used in papermaking, pharmaceuticals, and food industries.

Is calcium expensive?

The cost of calcium can vary depending on several factors:

  • Form: Calcium is available in various forms, and the cost can differ significantly depending on the specific form required for an application.
  • Purity: Higher purity levels of calcium are often associated with higher costs, especially for specialized industries like pharmaceuticals.
  • Quantity: Bulk purchases of calcium compounds may result in lower unit costs compared to smaller quantities.
  • Transportation and Location: The cost of transporting calcium compounds can vary based on distance and accessibility.
  • Market Demand: Prices can fluctuate based on market conditions, including supply and demand.
  • Geographic Location: Availability of calcium-containing minerals in a region can impact prices.
  • Processing Costs: The cost of processing raw materials to extract calcium can affect final prices.

In general, calcium compounds like calcium carbonate are relatively inexpensive and widely available, especially for common applications in industries such as construction and agriculture. However, specialty applications requiring high-purity calcium or unique forms may come with higher costs.

Are we running out of calcium?

It is highly unlikely that the Earth will ever run out of calcium because calcium is one of the most abundant elements in the Earth's crust. It makes up a significant portion of the Earth's composition, primarily in the form of calcium silicates and calcium carbonates. These compounds are found in various minerals, rocks, and geological formations.

Can calcium be recycled?

While calcium itself cannot be easily recycled, its compounds can be recycled and reused in various applications and processes. Here are a few examples:

  1. Recycling Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3): Calcium carbonate is commonly found in materials like limestone and chalk. It can be extracted from waste materials and reprocessed for use in industries like cement, paper, and plastics.
  2. Recycling Calcium Sulfate (CaSO4): Calcium sulfate, found in forms like gypsum, is used in construction for making drywall and plaster. Gypsum-based products can be recycled by grinding them into a powder and reusing this powder to make new products.
  3. Recycling Calcium-Based Sorbents: Calcium-based sorbents, such as calcium oxide (quicklime) and calcium hydroxide (hydrated lime), are used in environmental applications. They can often be regenerated and reused multiple times for processes like flue gas desulfurization and wastewater treatment.
  4. Recycling Calcium in Biological Systems: In biological systems, calcium ions (Ca²⁺) play essential roles in various processes. Calcium ions are continuously recycled within organisms, being absorbed, utilized in cellular processes, and eventually excreted or returned to the environment.

Recycling processes may involve purification and treatment to meet quality standards, and the feasibility of recycling calcium compounds can vary depending on the specific application and the availability of suitable recycling facilities.

Who discovered the calcium element?

Calcium is a chemical element, and its discovery cannot be attributed to a single individual. Instead, its discovery and recognition as an element were the result of the work of multiple scientists over centuries.

The name "calcium" itself comes from the Latin word "calx," which means "lime." Lime (calcium oxide, CaO) has been known and used by humans for thousands of years, primarily in the production of lime mortar and as a soil amendment in agriculture.

The systematic understanding of calcium as an element began to develop in the late 18th century and early 19th century during the period of chemical discovery and classification. Antoine Lavoisier, a French chemist, is often credited with helping to establish the modern understanding of chemical elements, including calcium, through his work on chemical nomenclature and the identification of elements.

In 1808, Sir Humphry Davy, an English chemist, isolated calcium in its elemental form through the process of electrolysis. He electrolyzed a mixture of calcium oxide (lime) and mercury(II) oxide (known as calx) and obtained elemental calcium. This experimental work contributed significantly to the recognition of calcium as an element.

So, while various scientists and researchers played a role in the discovery and understanding of calcium, the isolation of calcium in its elemental form is often attributed to Sir Humphry Davy in 1808.

What is calcium used for?

Calcium was discovered in 1894 by Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay. They were studying the density of nitrogen gas when they realized that the density of nitrogen obtained from chemical sources was slightly higher than nitrogen obtained from the air, leading to the discovery of calcium as a new element.

Is calcium dangerous?

Calcium is not inherently dangerous when consumed in appropriate amounts and as part of a balanced diet. In fact, calcium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various physiological functions in the human body, including bone health, muscle function, nerve transmission, and blood clotting. It is essential for overall health.

However, like many nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, calcium should be consumed in moderation. Consuming too little calcium can lead to health problems such as weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures, especially in older individuals. Conversely, excessive calcium intake, primarily through supplements, can potentially lead to hypercalcemia, a condition characterized by high levels of calcium in the blood, which can cause kidney stones, constipation, and other health issues.

How can an ordinary person make money from the calcium industry?

While making money directly from the elemental form of calcium is unlikely for most individuals, there are several indirect ways to benefit financially from calcium or calcium-containing compounds:

  1. Agriculture: Calcium-containing compounds like calcium carbonate and gypsum are used as soil amendments to improve crop yields.
  2. Construction: Calcium-based materials such as cement and concrete are essential in the construction industry.
  3. Food and Supplements: The production and sale of calcium-fortified foods and dietary supplements can be a business opportunity, subject to regulatory requirements.
  4. Recycling: Collecting and recycling calcium-containing materials, such as gypsum from construction waste, can be a sustainable business endeavor.
  5. Education and Research: Those with expertise in chemistry and materials science may find opportunities in education, research, and consulting related to calcium and its compounds.
  6. Environmental Services: Companies involved in environmental services, such as wastewater treatment and pollution control, may use calcium-based sorbents for various applications.

Opportunities related to calcium often require specific knowledge, resources, and consideration of market conditions and regulations.

Companies whose stock prices might be influenced by calcium.

  1. Cement and Construction Materials:
    • LafargeHolcim (Switzerland)
    • CEMEX (Mexico)
  2. Agricultural and Fertilizer Companies:
    • Yara International (Norway)
    • The Mosaic Company (USA)
  3. Food and Beverage:
    • Nestlé (Switzerland)
    • Danone (France)
  4. Pharmaceutical and Supplement Manufacturers:
    • Pfizer Inc. (USA)
    • GlaxoSmithKline (United Kingdom)
  5. Chemical Manufacturers:
    • Occidental Petroleum (OxyChem) (USA)
    • Solvay (Belgium)
  6. Environmental Services:
    • Veolia Environnement (France)
    • SUEZ (France)

Interesting facts about calcium

  1. Abundant Element: Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, making up approximately 3% of the Earth's composition.
  2. Essential for Life: Calcium is an essential mineral for human and animal life. It plays a vital role in bone health, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and blood clotting.
  3. Flame Coloration: When calcium compounds are burned, they produce distinctive flame colors used in fireworks. Calcium chloride, for example, produces an orange flame, while calcium sulfate produces a red flame.

Funny calcium Jokes, Puns and One-Liners

Why did the skeleton go to the party alone?

Because it had no body to go with!

We compiled a list of the Top 50 Chemistry Jokes and Puns of all time!

You may also like: