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A colourless, deliquescent (water-absorbing) substance employed in magnesium metal production, in the manufacture of a cement for heavy-duty flooring, and as an additive in textile manufacture.
Magnesium chloride is also used in several medical and topical (skin related) applications. It has been used in pills as supplemental sources of magnesium, where it serves as a soluble compound which is not as laxitive as magnesium sulfate, and more bioavailable than magnesium hydroxide and magnesium oxide, since it does not require stomach acid to produce soluble Mg2+ ion. It can also be used as an effective anaesthetic for cephalopods, some species of crustaceans, and several species of bivalve, including oysters.
A number of state highway departments throughout the United States have decreased the use of rock salt and sand on roadways and have increased the use of solutions of magnesium chloride (often called "liquid magnesium chloride") as a de-icer or anti-icer. Magnesium chloride is much less toxic to plant life surrounding highways and airports, and is less corrosive to concrete and steel (and other iron alloys) than sodium chloride.
Magnesium chloride is an important coagulant used in the preparation of tofu from soy milk. In Japan it is sold as nigari, derived from the Japanese word for "bitter"), a white powder produced from seawater after the sodium chloride has been removed, and the water evaporated. In China it is called lushu