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What are the uses of lithium chloride?

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Quick Answer

Lithium chloride is used as a desiccant, as part of pyrotechnics, in refrigeration machines, to manufacture mineral water and for soldering aluminum. The substance occurs as a white, crystalline powder soluble in water, ethanol and acetone.

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Liquid lithium chloride serves as a desiccant that may reduce humidity levels in the surrounding air by as much as 15 percent. Liquid desiccants that combine lithium chloride and calcium chloride create a substance that is cheaper than lithium chloride yet more stable than calcium chloride. Lithium chloride cools air quickly because the chemical holds an enormous amount of water for its weight as a solid. The substance also dries large amounts of industrial gases.

Lithium chloride is a red colorant in pyrotechnic displays such as fireworks. Lithium chloride, or any lithium-based salt soluble in water, burns red when ignited. Special pyrotechnic effects can be ignited by mixing ionic salts with flammable liquids such as methyl alcohol.

In the 1940s, lithium chloride served as a replacement for table salt, but some patients died from toxic levels of lithium. Other lithium compounds have regular applications, such as lithium carbonate in psychiatric medications.

The human body normally contains approximately 7 milligrams of lithium at any given time. Lithium occurs naturally in plants as the organisms use the substance to stimulate growth. Contact with pure lithium causes blistering in humans and animals.

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