Calcium Chloride (CaCI2) | What Is It And When Should You Use It?

By on 20/07/2011

Here at Curd-Nerd I’ve mentioned Calcium Chloride a few times, mostly in relation to brine solutions, and you may have also seen it listed as an ingredient in the cheese recipe books you have.

So what is Calcium Chloride and should you be using it?

Calcium Chloride (CaCI2) is a salt solution, which is used in cheese making to restore the calcium balance of milk.

If you use store bought, homogenized and pasteurized milk for cheese making you will more than likely need to add Calcium Chloride to rebalance the calcium content of milk as the manufacturing processes of pasteurization, heating and rapidly cooling the milk, and homogenization decreases the amount of calcium in the milk and can affect the clotting properties.

This will be noticeable by a slower coagulation of the milk after adding the Rennet, a softer, less stable curd and in some cases where the calcium levels are extremely low, no coagulation at all.

Adding Calcium Chloride to your milk brings the calcium content back into balance and will result in a firmer curd, that you will find much easier to cut and work with.

But it’s not just store bought milk that can benefit from Calcium Chloride. If you are using Goat’s Milk for cheese making, particularly when making hard cheeses, you may need to add Calcium Chloride to get a firm curd as Goat’s milk goes through a natural homogenization process in the animal’s body and without CaCI2 it may produce a curd that is too weak to cut properly.

And Calcium chloride is often also used with raw cows milk as well, as different feeding conditions; for example winter feeding, and the health of the animals can affect the calcium levels of the milk.

Ultimately, whether you do or don’t need Calcium Chloride for fresh, raw milk will depend purely on the quality of milk. I personally don’t or haven’t needed to add CaCI2 to the raw milk I use but if you find you are getting a weak curd from your milk supply, and you know your Rennet is still viable, you can try adding Calcium Chloride to remedy the problem.

It is important to add exactly the right amount of Calcium Chloride so that the curd firms up enough but is not compromised by too much CaCI2 to the point of being unusable. The recommended measure is ¼ teaspoon per gallon of milk and the Calcium Chloride is normally added to the milk before you start with your cheese making. Some cheese makers even prefer to add the CaCI2 to the milk in the stockpot the night before a make so that it has plenty of time to do it’s work rebalancing, before starting the cheese making process.

To add Calcium Chloride, simply dilute your CaCI2 in ¼ cup cool, distilled water, the same way you would with your Rennet, so it can then be stirred in evenly through the milk.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, and in previous posts, Calcium Chloride can also be used in your brine solutions to balance the calcium levels between brine and cheese, which can prevent your cheese ‘melting’ or going slimy when it is being preserved. This is a reasonably common issue and the addition of CaCI2 to the mix is usually a reliable solution as it establishes an even balance and stops the calcium from being leeched from the cheese into the brine, causing the cheese to soften and melt.

Food Grade Calcium Chloride should be available at your local homebrew store, at the chemist or online through cheese making supply companies.

If you have any questions about using Calcium Chloride, post them in the comments below and I will do my best to help you with the answers.

17 Comments

  1. Pingback: QA2 - Why Does My Feta Melt When Aging In Brine? | Curd-Nerd

  2. anna

    30/11/2011 at 11:49 pm

    Hi how much calcium chloride should I add to my brine solution.I am finding that some of my cheeses are not forming a skin . thanks

  3. chris budo

    12/12/2011 at 5:45 am

    i have tried several times to use store bought milk to make my cheeses. I have not had a successful make usiong store bought milk. I have used calcium chloride during the make had still do not have a good curd. I Live in Las Vegas, Nevada and getting fresh raw milk is next to impossible. I am a professor at a nursing college and one of my students who lives on a working farm has been able to obtain raw milk for me and it made a beautiful cheese. I mostly use powered milk and add cream and it does okay , but not great. Any suggestions that might help with the use of commercial milk and CaCL would be greatly appreciated. Would using overpriced Organic milk make any improvements? Thank You

    Chris Budo MD

    • curdnerd

      20/01/2012 at 11:19 am

      Hi Chris

      Thanks for your question.

      Store brought milk can definitely make things more challenging and it can be a little hit and miss on the results you get, depending on the brand and their manufacturing process. Organic milk can certainly provide better results but as you say, it can be horrendously overpriced and this then tends to make home cheese makers wonder if there is any economical reason to make cheese. Sure, you will get a much tastier and healthier product but you can probably buy organic cheese for a similar (if not cheaper price). It’s a tricky balance.

      The calcium chloride should help with using store brought milk so I am interested to know what the lack of success is that you are having. It is a lack of coagulation? Or another issue? If you are still struggling let me know and I will certainly try to help you out so you can get on with making great home made cheese.

      : )

  4. David D

    23/01/2012 at 12:29 pm

    I’m trying my first rennet cheese after successfully making both paneer and yogurt from store-bought milk. The first attempt at neufchatel resulted in a slimy, mucusy mess after setting for about 16 hours. My first thought was that I needed to add calcium chloride, so I added it for the second attempt. I got what was almost a hard break, but it was only the top layer. Most of the pot was still a slimy mess. Do you know what the problem is? Do I need more calcium chloride?

    David D

    • curdnerd

      29/01/2012 at 1:06 pm

      Hi David

      Thanks for posting your question : ) My first thought is to ask if your Rennet is still viable? Rennet does expire and can cause a complete lack of coagulation.

      Other things to check are the amounts you are using, and also avoiding using any sterilization products on any equipment you use for your Rennet. These can kill the enzymes you need to get a good curd so just use boiling water for cleaning these.

      Let me know how you go with remedying this problem. If it’s still an issue let me know more about your exact process and we can try and work out what’s going on.

      Rachael

  5. David D

    06/02/2012 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Rachael,

    So two things seemed to be going on, neither of which turned out to be the CaCl2.

    I doubled the rennet and I increased the temperature. The taste was sharper/more tangy but not bitter, which tells me I didn’t overdo the rennet. It also tells me that the temperature increase did the job of getting the bacteria more active. The curd didn’t create any more of a clean break, but the whey visible around the curd was clearer, so I do think it coagulated better. I don’t know if that was the increased acid due to bacteria activity or the extra rennet. I think both were necessary, or at least didn’t heart.

    On the increased temp, I had previously followed Fankhauser’s recommendation of 65 to avoid killing the buttermilk’, but a buttermilk website said they died at 80′. So I increased the temp to 77′ and let it set during the day, when it is warmer, instead of at night when our house gets cool.

    I’m beginning to see why so many people say that cheese-making is as much an art as a science.

    Thanks!

    David

    • curdnerd

      12/02/2012 at 4:04 pm

      Hi David

      Cheese making is certainly more art than science in my experience. All of the guidelines and techniques are extremely useful but when dealing with live organisms and any combination of events it can make things very interesting.

      The best way to figure it all out is trial and error and taking note of what works and what delivers different results.

      I’m glad you managed to get a better set this time, although still not a clean cut. Temperatures can make a big difference in a make and Rennet works best between 85 and 100 degrees. Be careful adding too much Rennet as you will get a bitter taste with your cheese.

      Keep playing and let me know if you have any more questions : )

  6. Mandy Nolan

    08/08/2012 at 8:15 pm

    Hi, I’ve been making lots of soft cheeses at home with great success and really enjoy your tips on the website. I’ve made Camembert 3 times with success but now I seem to have hit a problem with the last 2 attempts where the rind is not forming properly and I can seee nasty black patches appearing fairly early on in the process. Any ideas where I’m gong wrong?

    • curdnerd

      09/08/2012 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Mandy.

      Thanks for your question. Has anything changed with your milk source, and are you confident about the quality of your white mold additive? Also, how are you applying it? Directly in the milk, or sprayed on?

      The black mold is definitely one you don’t want and normally comes with temperatures that are too high. Has anything changed about where/how you are aging these cheeses?

      My thoughts are that your aging environment is off, for the black mold to occur, and in terms of your rind, this might also play a part too.

      Let me know if any of that helps, and if you have more information. Hope things improve with your Cams!

  7. Alan

    17/11/2012 at 7:57 am

    Thanks first for your incites..
    I want to ask if their is a difference between the powdered caCl that I purchased at the brew store and what looks like liquid CaCl in the cheese catalogs?
    When you mention an amount in water is it using the powder type?

    • curdnerd

      17/11/2012 at 2:00 pm

      Hi Alan

      Thanks for your question. The only difference is that one is liquid and the other must be diluted with water.

      I use the liquid from, which I then still dilute with water.

  8. Wido Hoville

    21/12/2012 at 9:49 am

    I am allergic (severe side effects including dizziness, head pain, sweating, increased heat rate etc. ) to Calcium Chloride in found in almost every cheese in North America (Canada included). But European cheese makers don’t use it !!!

    Besides CC one can also find Potassium Sorbate and Natamycine (which contain heavy metals such as Lead and Mercury etc) in some Canadian cheeses. In the crust. So be warned!

  9. Sherry

    25/02/2013 at 5:08 pm

    I don’t even use calcium chloride at all! I use Junket feta to produce a curd from the pasteurized goat’s milk I use to make feta cheese. It turns out AWESOME!!!

  10. Hany

    26/03/2013 at 4:59 am

    Very good info , thanks
    Cheese making is certainly more art than science …

  11. ed davis

    14/07/2013 at 5:21 am

    i dont seem to have a problem with getting the curd to form ok..but after the pressing and ageing ..when it is time to eat.it seems to dry and crumbles a lot..also has a tangy slight viniger taste that i dont like…any thoughts..ed

    • Curd-Nerd

      16/07/2013 at 11:30 am

      Hi Ed

      Take a look at the following post and see if it helps in any way. If not, drop back and let us know and we’ll see if there is more we can help with.

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