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Calcium carbide UPSC NOTE

 Calcium carbide

  • Calcium carbide, also known as calcium acetylide, is a chemical compound with the chemical formula of CaC2

  • Its main use industrially is in the production of acetylene and calcium cyanamide

  • The pure material is colorless, while pieces of technical-grade calcium carbide are grey or brown and consist of about 80–85% of CaC2 (the rest is CaO (calcium oxide), Ca3P2 (calcium phosphide), CaS (calcium sulfide), Ca3N2 (calcium nitride), SiC (silicon carbide), etc.).

  • In the presence of trace moisture, technical-grade calcium carbide emits an unpleasant odor reminiscent of garlic

  • Applications of calcium carbide include manufacture of acetylene gas, generation of acetylene in carbide lamps, manufacture of chemicals for fertilizer, and steelmaking.


Why Calcium carbide used for ripening fruits 

  • It is a cheap and easily available substance that is widely used by fruit vendors and farmers in India to speed up the ripening process of fruits such as mangoes, bananas, and papayas

Why it banned? 

  • Calcium carbide, commonly used for ripening fruits like mangoes, releases acetylene gas, which contains harmful traces of arsenic and phosphorus

  • These substances, also known as 'Masala', can cause serious health issues such as dizziness, frequent thirst, irritation, weakness, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting and skin ulcers, etc

  • Additionally, acetylene gas is equally hazardous to those handling it.

Safer alternative for fruit ripening

  • Considering the issue of rampant use of banned calcium carbide, FSSAI has permitted the use of ethylene gas as a safer alternative for fruit ripening in India.

  • Ethylene gas can be used at concentrations up to 100 ppm, depending upon the crop, variety and maturity.

  • Ethylene, a naturally occurring hormone in fruits, regulates the ripening process by initiating and controlling a series of chemical and biochemical activities.

  • The treatment of unripe fruits with ethylene gas triggers the natural ripening process until the fruit itself starts producing ethylene in substantial quantities.

  • Further, the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIB & RC) have approved Ethephon 39 per cent SL for the uniform ripening of mangoes and other fruits.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Calcium carbide UPSC NOTE
Calcium carbide UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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