The use of limestone for industrial purposes dates all the way back to the Roman Empire where manmade concrete derived from lime and volcanic rock was discovered by researchers. This comes as no surprise, seeing as lime is one of the most versatile and plentiful minerals around today.
Many of us know lime’s role in concrete production and other architectural applications, but this mineral has a wide array of uses outside of the typical building material roles it so often plays!
Limestone in the raw is a medium hardness blue-gray stone, which can be carved or similarly tooled without much difficulty. Once harvested, the differing qualities of stone are grouped together and then heated in lime kilns to temperatures of 1,830 °F. This process is known as calcination and causes a chemical reaction to take place within the harvested limestone, turning it into quicklime. The quicklime is now significantly more brittle and can be ground into a fine powder for packaging and transportation.
From here, the quicklime may be mixed with water to form a material, which readily adheres to brick and other masonry work, making it ideal in whitewash projects and as mortar. However, as we said before, quicklime has a vast number of uses outside the realm of architecture.
Hydrated lime (or slaked lime) is the go-to coagulant for the treatment of wastewater and other contaminated water sources. It can also be used as a ‘sludge stabilizer’ where the lime effectively separates the water from contaminants.
Soil and Lake Treatment
When lakes and soil become acidic due to acid rain or other incidents, slaked lime is an excellent resource in helping to reverse the acidity. It works by balancing the pH of the affected soil and water, moving it from an acidic pH level to more neutral levels. Powdered lime, which has not been calcinated, can have the same effect, but quicklime gets the job done faster.
Second to architectural purposes, steel production is the largest use of powdered lime. The lime is used as a ‘flux’, which effectively removes impurities from the metal such as silica, alumina, phosphorus, and other contaminants. Additionally, lime works to lower the oxygen content of the molten steel and fine-tune its chemical composition.
As you can see, lime plays a vast variety of roles in our modern world outside of concrete and mortar. If you would like to know more about lime’s uses and transportation or any other industrial minerals, we invite you to contact us today.