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Calcium is considered to be a metal. The general properties of calcium include limestone, chalk, gypsum, marble, and plaster. In terms of chemistry, calcium belongs to an element family called alkaline earth metals. Similar metals include magnesium and radium.
Limestone, which is one of the properties of calcium, is officially known as calcium carbonate. This is the most common form of calcium. It is usually found in chalk, coral reefs, and in oyster shells. When limestone is heated, the lime becomes calcium oxide. If lime is used to create metals, the byproduct becomes calcium silicate. This byproduct is also known as slag.
Sometimes lime is used to help control pollution. It is deposited into the smokestacks of factories where it interacts with sulfur dioxide. When calcium carbonate is mixed with the gas, it forms a new property known as calcium sulfite.
There are many different chemical properties of calcium that interact with other chemicals to form various types of calcium. These properties have a variety of uses, including disinfecting the water of swimming pools, acting as food sweeteners, and melting street and sidewalk ice during winter months. One of the properties, calcium phosphide, is used to make fireworks.
Another type of property, calcium alginate, is used in foods such as cheese to provide thickness. Calcium gluconate is a popular form that is found in many calcium supplements. Wax figures, crayons, and many plastics contain calcium stearate, which is also used to create water resistant clothing material.
The physical properties of calcium are also found in humans. Most of a person's skeletal structure and teeth are made up of calcium. The human body actually uses the properties of calcium to ensure that bones become strong and can endure a large amount of wear and tear. Inside the blood stream, calcium helps to regulate the cardiovascular and central nervous systems.
As a metal, calcium is somewhat flexible. Contrary to popular belief, it tends to have a silver appearance until it interacts with oxygen. The oxygen causes the calcium to become white. When the metal interacts with oxygen directly, it transforms into calcium oxide. The properties of calcium have also been shown to readily interact with fluorine, chlorine, and iodine.
Calcium was first isolated by the chemist, Humphry Davey. He isolated its properties by using what is now known as electrolysis. Davey used electricity to isolate a variety of mineral compounds. The chemist also helped uncover that most of the different forms of calcium all contain a similar property known as calx.