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The melting point of calcium oxide, which is also known as quicklime or burnt lime, is 2,572 degrees Celsius or 4,350 degrees Fahrenheit. This inorganic compound has a white or gray powdery appearance and is highly hygroscopic, absorbing moisture and carbon dioxide from the air. It is basic in nature, soluble in acid, and forms salts with water. It is commonly used in construction projects and the manufacture of caustic soda. It can also be found in food endorsed as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
The chemical composition of calcium oxide consists of one cation and two anion molecules. The calcium cation has a valency of +2, and the oxygen anion has a valency of -2. The molecules are ionic, and the bonds that hold them together are covalent. Calcium oxide is made from limestones or seashells through a process called calcination, where they are thermally decomposed at elevated heat while maintaining temperatures below their melting point. The resulting quicklime is then reacted with water to produce calcium hydroxide and other by-products.
When burned, it emits a bright light that was used to illuminate stage productions before electric lighting was invented. It is also a common ingredient in glass to create durable products such as bottles and light bulbs. Calcium oxide is also a key component in pollution control devices. The smoke that ejects from most industries contains high amounts of nitrogen and sulfur, which when combined with water, morph into dangerous chemicals such as nitric and sulphuric acids. Adding large compounds of calcium oxide to this smoke can help neutralize the harmful acids and prevent them from reaching natural bodies of water.