What is Calcium carbide

Calcium carbide (CaC2) is a chemical compound composed of calcium and carbon. It is mainly used in industrial applications, especially in the production of acetylene gas. Calcium carbide is produced through a reaction between calcium oxide (quicklime) and carbon in an electric arc furnace. The resulting product is a brownish-black solid with a crystalline structure.

What is Calcium carbide

Here are some of the key properties and uses of calcium carbide:


  • Chemical Formula: CaC2
  • Molar Mass: 64.10 g/mol
  • Appearance: Brownish-black solid with crystalline structure
  • Melting Point: 2,300°C (4,172°F)
  • Solubility: Slightly soluble in water, reacts with water to generate acetylene gas and calcium hydroxide.


  • Acetylene Production: The primary use of calcium carbide is in the production of acetylene gas (C2H2). When calcium carbide comes in contact with water, it reacts to release acetylene gas, which is highly flammable and is used in welding and torch cutting as well as in various industrial processes.

  • Desiccant: Calcium carbide is used as a desiccant to absorb moisture and reduce humidity in some applications, similar to its property as a drying agent.

  • Ripening of fruits: In some countries, calcium carbide is used to ripen fruits quickly, although this practice is discouraged due to the potential health risks associated with residual chemicals.

  • Steelmaking: Calcium carbide can be used as a desulfurizing agent in steelmaking to remove impurities of sulfur from molten iron and steel.

  • Chemical Synthesis: It can serve as a source of acetylene in various chemical synthesis reactions, leading to the formation of a wide variety of organic compounds.

  • Carbide lamps: Historically, calcium carbide was used in carbide lamps, where water was dripped onto the carbide to produce acetylene gas, which was then burned to produce light.

It is worth noting that handling calcium carbide requires caution, as reaction with water produces acetylene gas, which is highly flammable. Additionally, the use of calcium carbide to ripen fruit has raised health concerns due to potential contamination of produce with traces of the harmful chemical. Therefore, its use for this purpose is regulated or banned in many countries.