Various Types of “Lime” in Chemistry

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Explore the uses and characteristics of different types of lime in chemistry, such as slaked lime, quicklime, limewater, and more, through our comprehensive notes.

Slaked Lime (Calcium Hydroxide)

Calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2), also known as slaked lime, is a white, odorless powder or crystal commonly used in various industries due to its properties as a strong base.


  • Slaked lime is produced by the hydration reaction of quicklime (calcium oxide, CaO) with water. This reaction is exothermic, meaning it releases heat.

Chemical properties

  • Slaked lime is a strong base with a pH of about 12.4 in saturated aqueous solutions.
  • It is moderately soluble in water, with a solubility of about 1.5 g/L at 25°C.
  • Slaked lime can react with acids to neutralize them, forming water and salt.


Slaked lime has a wide range of applications, including:

  • Construction: As an ingredient in mortar, plaster, and concrete. It reacts with carbon dioxide in the air to harden these materials.
  • Water treatment: To neutralize acidic water and remove impurities like heavy metals.
  • Soil amendment: To raise the pH of acidic soils, making them more suitable for plant growth.
  • Food processing: As a pickling agent, pH adjuster, and firming agent for certain foods like tofu.
  • Wastewater treatment: To neutralize acidic wastewater and remove phosphorus.
  • Chemical industry: As a raw material for various chemicals, such as calcium chloride and bleach.
Other Name of Slaked Lime  Calcium Hydroxide

Pickling Lime
Hydrated lime
Caustic Lime

Read More About: Calcium Hydroxide: Physical and Chemical Properties and Uses

Pickling Lime

Pickling lime, also known as calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2), is a white, odorless powder that was traditionally used in the pickling process to enhance the crispness and firmness of pickled vegetables.

To effectively pickle fruits and vegetables, it’s important to have a higher pH in the solution. Pickling lime is a helpful ingredient as it raises the alkalinity level in the water bath canner or brine solution. This ensures that your produce stays crisp during storage. Unlike using only vinegar for pickling, pickling lime maintains the crispiness of the food, making it a great choice for preserving certain types of produce.

It achieves this by:

  • Raising the pH: Pickling lime is highly alkaline, and when added to the pickling brine, it raises the pH. This creates a less acidic environment, which hinders the softening enzymes naturally present in vegetables.
  • Strengthening cell walls: Calcium ions from pickling lime bind to pectin, a naturally occurring polysaccharide in plant cell walls. This strengthens the cell walls and helps them resist softening during pickling.

Caustic Lime

Caustic lime most likely refers to calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2), also known by various names like slaked lime, hydrated lime, and pickling lime.


  • Strong base: Calcium hydroxide has a pH of about 12.4 in saturated aqueous solutions, making it a strong base capable of neutralizing acids and reacting with various substances.
  • Moderately soluble: It dissolves in water to a limited extent (around 1.5 g/L at 25°C), forming a clear solution called limewater.
  • Exothermic reaction: When calcium hydroxide reacts with water, it releases heat in an exothermic reaction.
  • Highly reactive: It readily reacts with acids, carbon dioxide, and some metals.

Applications in chemistry

  • Neutralizing acids: Used in acid spills and waste treatment to neutralize acidic solutions and prevent environmental damage.
  • Precipitating ions: In analytical chemistry, it can precipitate certain ions from solutions for identification and quantification.
  • Carbon dioxide scrubber: Limewater absorbs carbon dioxide, turning cloudy, making it a useful test for its presence.
  • Water treatment: This can be employed to remove heavy metals and impurities from water through precipitation and adsorption.
  • Synthesis of chemicals: Used as a raw material in the production of various chemicals, such as calcium salts and bleach.
  • Chemical analysis: Involved in certain reactions and tests for qualitative and quantitative analysis of chemical compounds.

Quicklime / Unslaked lime/ Burnt lime (Calcium Oxide)

Quicklime, also known as calcium oxide (CaO), is a white, highly reactive, caustic compound widely used in various industries for its diverse properties.


  • Quicklime is produced by heating limestone (calcium carbonate, CaCO3) to high temperatures (around 900°C) in a process called calcination. This releases carbon dioxide gas, leaving behind quicklime.

Chemical properties

  • Quicklime is a strong base with a pH of about 12.5 when it reacts with water to form calcium hydroxide (slaked lime).
  • It is virtually insoluble in water but reacts vigorously with it, releasing a significant amount of heat.
  • Quicklime readily absorbs moisture and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, slowly reverting to calcium carbonate.


Quicklime has a broad range of applications due to its reactivity and alkalinity, including:

  • Construction: As a key ingredient in mortar, plaster, and concrete. When mixed with water and sand, it forms a strong binding agent that hardens over time.
  • Steelmaking: As a fluxing agent in the refining process, helping to remove impurities from molten steel.
  • Water treatment: For neutralizing acidic water and removing contaminants like sulfur and arsenic.
  • Soil stabilization: In waste treatment facilities, to stabilize hazardous materials and prevent their leaching into the environment.
  • Leather tanning: As a dehairing agent in the early stages of leather processing.
  • Flue gas desulfurization: In power plants, to capture sulfur dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.


Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed primarily of calcium carbonate (CaCO₃). It’s a versatile and widely used material with a fascinating history and diverse applications.


Limestone forms from the accumulation of organic and inorganic calcium carbonate over millions of years. These include:

  • Marine Sedimentation: Shells and skeletons of marine organisms like corals, mollusks, and algae settle at the bottom of the ocean, eventually compacting and cementing together to form limestone beds.
  • Chemical Precipitation: Calcium carbonate can precipitate directly from water saturated with the mineral, either through evaporation or changes in temperature or pressure.
  • Biogenic Formation: Some limestones are formed by the direct activity of living organisms, such as certain types of algae that secrete calcium carbonate shells.


  • Appearance: Limestone typically appears as a light-colored rock, ranging from white to gray, beige, and even yellow or brown depending on impurities. Its texture can vary from fine-grained and smooth to coarse and fossiliferous.
  • Composition: While primarily calcium carbonate, limestone can also contain other minerals like dolomite (magnesium carbonate), quartz, clay minerals, and iron oxides. These impurities can influence the rock’s color, texture, and properties.
  • Solubility: Limestone is slightly soluble in water, especially acidic water. This property has contributed to the formation of impressive natural features like caves and sinkholes over time.


Limestone is a valuable resource with numerous uses across various industries:

  • Construction: Crushed limestone is used as an aggregate in concrete and asphalt, while larger blocks are employed for building facades, cladding, and architectural elements.
  • Agriculture: Ground limestone is applied to acidic soils to raise the pH and improve plant growth. It also provides essential calcium for crops.
  • Manufacturing: Limestone is used in the production of lime, a versatile material used in construction, water treatment, and various chemical processes.
  • Chemical Industry: Calcium carbonate extracted from limestone finds applications in various chemicals like calcium chloride, soda ash, and pigments.
  • Art and Sculpture: Limestone has been used for centuries by sculptors and artists for its versatility, durability, and aesthetic qualities.

Read More About Calcium Carbonate, Formula, Properties, Uses, Application


Limewater, also known as calcium hydroxide solution, is a fascinating and versatile chemical with a wide range of uses in chemistry. Here’s a deeper dive into its properties and applications:

Chemical Properties

  • Formula: Ca(OH)2
  • Appearance: Clear and colorless liquid (saturated solution)
  • Solubility: The saturated solution contains about 1.5 g/L of calcium hydroxide at room temperature.
  • pH: Highly alkaline, around 12.4.
  • Reactivity: Reacts with acids to neutralize them, and reacts with carbon dioxide to form a white precipitate of calcium carbonate (CaCO3).


Limewater can be prepared by two main methods:

  • Dissolving calcium hydroxide powder in water: This is the most common method. However, excess undissolved calcium hydroxide will remain at the bottom. You can achieve a clearer solution by filtering it.
  • Passing calcium hydroxide gas (Ca(OH)2) through water: This method results in a more saturated solution but requires specialized equipment.

Applications in Chemistry

  • Test for carbon dioxide: Limewater is a classic test for the presence of carbon dioxide. When CO2 bubbles through limewater, a white precipitate of calcium carbonate forms, indicating the presence of the gas. This reaction is reversible, and the precipitate will redissolve if excess CO2 is bubbled through.
  • Neutralizing agent: Limewater can be used to neutralize acidic solutions. This is due to its highly alkaline nature and ability to react with acids to form salts and water.
  • Water softening: Limewater is used in water treatment plants to soften hard water. It removes calcium and magnesium ions, which contribute to water hardness, by forming insoluble precipitates.
  • Precipitating agent: Limewater can be used to precipitate various metal ions from their solutions. For example, it can be used to remove heavy metals like copper and lead from wastewater.
  • Other uses: Manufacturing of calcium carbonate products like chalk and limestone.Production of mortar and cement. As a food additive (E526) in some processed foods.

Lime Milk

  • This is the more common meaning in chemistry. It refers to a suspension of calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) particles in water. It has a milky white appearance and is similar to limewater but with a higher concentration of calcium hydroxide (around 5-20%).
  • Its preparation involves slaking quicklime (calcium oxide) with water.
  • Milk of lime has similar properties and uses to limewater, including:
    • Testing for carbon dioxide with the formation of a white precipitate (calcium carbonate).
    • Neutralizing acids.
    • Softening hard water.
    • Precipitating metal ions.
    • Applications in construction materials like mortar.
  • However, due to its higher concentration of calcium hydroxide, milk of lime requires extra caution:
    • It is more alkaline than limewater and can cause more severe skin and eye irritation.
    • Wear appropriate protective gear when handling it.


  • A limekiln is a kiln or furnace used to produce quicklime (calcium oxide) from limestone by heating it to a high temperature.
  • The chemical reaction involved in the process is known as calcination, where calcium carbonate (limestone) is decomposed into calcium oxide (quicklime) and carbon dioxide.
  • The reaction: CaCO₃ → CaO + CO₂


  • Lime-sulfur is a mixture of calcium polysulfides formed by the reaction of sulfur and lime (calcium oxide or hydroxide).
  • It is commonly used as a fungicide, insecticide, and miticide in agriculture.
  • The sulfur component in lime-sulfur contributes to its pesticidal properties.

Hydraulic Lime

  • Hydraulic lime is a type of lime (calcium oxide or hydroxide) that has the ability to set and harden underwater through a chemical reaction with water.
  • It is used in construction and masonry applications, especially in situations where a material that can set in wet conditions is required.
  • The hydraulic property is attributed to the presence of silicates and aluminates in addition to calcium compounds.


  • Limelight refers to a bright light produced by heating a piece of lime (usually quicklime or calcium oxide) in an oxyhydrogen flame.
  • The light is produced by the incandescence of calcium oxide when heated to high temperatures.
  • Limelight was historically used in theaters and other venues for stage lighting before the advent of electric lighting.

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