This word was derived from the Greek word “asbestos” which means “inextinguishable”. This word refers to burnt lime which is still used today by various industries.
Burnt lime which is commonly known as quick lime is a chemical compound with numerous applications. It is produced when rocks mined in special mines are burnt. The process involves the use of a special kiln with other materials such as limestone, chalk, dolomite and other calcium-magnesium based rocks.
To produce quicklime, all the necessary ingredients are subjected to processes such as crushing, sizing and firing. The reason for putting the raw material through all these processes is to achieve a material suitable for meeting human needs
What Is Quicklime?
Quicklime is a chemical compound also known as calcium oxide (CaO). It is a caustic alkaline substance which is produced through the combustion of limestone in kilns designed for such purpose. This compound has a wide variety of uses in various sectors especially in the industrial sector.
Uses and Applications of Quicklime
Here are some of the uses of quicklime you should know:
It is used in the preparation of mortar
Calcium oxide is a very important compound needed in the production of cement and mortar. It reacts with carbon dioxide to generate calcium carbonate. Calcium oxide does not readily react with carbon dioxide especially in its direct form. Therefore, water is added to speed up the process to form carbon hydroxide also known as slake lime.
When mixed with water it forms a thick paste called mortar. Mortar finds its application in the construction industry. While constructing buildings, it is used to cement bricks or stones. It helps to secure them in place as it solidifies and become hard. You can watch this video to see the reaction of calcium oxide with water.
It is used in the making of glass
This process involves the heating of calcium oxide, silica sand and sodium carbonate to form a solution. After the cooling of this solution, an amorphous, colorless, and clear solid is formed. This solid is called glass. In this case, calcium oxide finds it application in the glass making industry.
It is used in the manufacture of High-grade steel and Iron
The extraction of steel and iron begins with the ore. To successfully complete the extraction process, impurities like silicates needs to be removed. To achieve this quicklime is added and the mixture is heated at high temperatures.
Once the mixture is melted the impurities react with the quicklime to produce slag that can be skimmed off leaving only the pure metal to be drained separately. This application of quicklime is of great importance to the metal and alloy production industry.
It is used to make calcium supplements
When calcium oxide comes in contact with water in the human body, they react together to form calcium hydroxide which breaks down into calcium and hydroxyl ions ready to be absorbed and used by the body. This application of calcium oxide is very important in the health and pharmaceutical industry.
It can be used traditionally
This is a very interesting use of quicklime. Traditionally, quicklime has been used as an ingredient in a method of embalming dead bodies to prevent odor of decomposition. Therefore dead bodies that are to be buried in open graves will be at less risks of attracting flies and insects.
Even centuries ago, people who died of diseases such as plague and cholera were embalmed with it before they were buried. This was done in order to prevent the spreading of the sickness through air to the healthy masses.
It can be used for the production of limelight
This is another interesting use of quicklime. It is incandescent in nature, which means it glows when heated. Before the invention of electricity and electric bulb, quicklime was heated to a temperature of about 2400°C. At this temperature, it emits a bright white light called limelight which was used for the illumination of theatrical productions. You can check here https://www.britannica.com/art/limelight-theatre-lighting to learn more about limelight.
Quicklime is one of the most flexible chemical compounds in existence. Its application varies from engineering to medicine to agriculture and numerous other fields. Its application can also be widely seen in construction industries and even our everyday lives.
This material has been in existence for thousands of years and its uses keep evolving as time passes. The steps required for its production has existed for a long time and is said to be one of the oldest chemical reactions ever known. Therefore, the benefits of this material cannot be overemphasized and might even continue to exist for more generations to come.