The word "lime"is a generic term and is used in a variety of ways. In the broadest sense lime refers to natural limestone rock deposits of calcium carbonate: limestone, marble and chalk, and dolomite stone of a similar nature. More specifically, the term "lime" is used today to refer to the high quality products like quicklime, dolime and calcium hydroxide, also known as hydrated lime.
Lime is a generic term, but by strict definition it only embraces manufactured forms of lime – quicklime (CaO) and hydrated lime (Ca(OH)2). It is, however, sometimes used to describe limestone products, which can be confusing. The raw material for all lime-based products is a natural stone: limestone, which is composed almost exclusively of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). When limestone contains a certain proportion of magnesium, it is called dolomite, or dolomitic limestone (CaMg(CO3)2). It is widely geographically available all over the world, (the Earth’s crust contains more than 4% calcium carbonate,) and it is used for many different purposes.
Although in English, the word lime is common with the citrus fruit by the same name, it is in most languages derived from the Latin “calx”, like kalk, calce, chaux, cal, kalko.
Essential but often unseen
Lime is a essential but often unseen ingredient. Not only does it help the construction and manufacturing industries optimise their products but it also supports the drinking water, food and farming sectors with its versatile and unique characteristics. It is the only mineral product that can be used to produce steel and sugar in the same day! Lime is a highly important and diverse substance, due to its alkalinity and ability to purify and neutralise. It has been used throughout history and lime mortar was even a key building material in the construction of the Roman Empire!
It has a diverse range of uses and is often an undetected ingredient in many important processes. When we turn on a tap, use our cars, add sugar to our tea or even write a shopping list, we do not consider the ingredients that have gone into these everyday items. Lime helps to provide us with all of them. Even though it was discovered in ancient times, today it is manufactured using the latest industrial processes.