These are made principally of calcium oxide (CaO), occurring naturally in limestone, marble, chalk, coral, and shell. For building purposes, they are used chiefly in mortars.

Hydraulic Limes

These are made by calcining a limestone containing silica and alumina to a temperature short of incipient fusion so as to form sufficient free lime to permit hydration and at the same time leave unhydrated sufficient calcium silicates to give the dry powder its hydraulic properties (see Specification for Hydraulic Hydrated Lime for Structural Purposes, ASTM C141). Because of the low silicate and high lime contents, hydraulic limes are relatively weak. They find their principal use in masonry mortars. A hydraulic lime with more than 10% silica will set under water.


When limestone is heated to a temperature in excess of 1700F, the carbon dioxide content is driven off and the remaining solid product is quicklime. It consists essentially of calcium and magnesium oxides plus impurities such as silica, iron, and aluminum oxides. The impurities are usually limited to less than 5%. If they exceed 10%, the product may be a hydraulic lime. Two classes of quicklime are recognized, high-calcium and dolomitic. A highcalcium quicklime usually contains less than 5% magnesium oxide. A dolomitic quicklime usually contains from 35 to 40% magnesium oxide. A few quicklimes are found that contain 5 to 35% magnesium oxide and are called magnesian limes. The outstanding characteristic of quicklime is its ability to slake with water. When quicklime is mixed with from two to three times its weight of water, a chemical reaction takes place. The calcium oxide combines with water to form calcium hydroxide, and sufficient heat is evolved to bring the entire mass to a boil. The resulting product is a suspension of finely divided calcium hydroxide (and magnesium hydroxide or oxide if dolomitic lime is used) in water. On cooling, the semifluid mass stiffens to a putty of such consistency that it may be shoveled or carried in a hod. This slaked quicklime putty, when cooled and preferably screened, is the material used in construction. Quicklime should always be thoroughly slaked. The yield of putty will vary, depending on the type of quicklime, its degree of burning, and slaking conditions, and will usually be from 70 to 100 ft3 of putty per ton of quicklime. The principal use of the putty is in masonry mortars, where it is particularly valuable because of the high degree of plasticity or workability it imparts to the mortar. It is used at times as an admixture in concrete to improve workability. It also is used in some localities as finish-coat plaster where full advantage may be taken of its high plasticity.

Masons Hydrated Lime

Hydrated limes are prepared from quicklimes by addition of a limited amount of water. After hydration ceases to evolve heat, the resulting product is a fine, dry powder. It is then classified by air-classification methods to remove undesirable oversize particles and packaged in 50-lb sacks. It is always a factory-made product,  whereas quicklime putty is almost always a job-slaked product. Masons hydrated limes are those hydrates suitable for use in mortars, base-coat plasters, and concrete. They necessarily follow the composition of the quicklime. High-calcium hydrates are composed primarily of calcium hydroxide. Normal dolomitic hydrates are composed of calcium hydroxide plus magnesium oxide.

Plasticity of mortars made from normal masons hydrated limes (Type N) is fair. It is better than that attained with most cements, but not nearly so high as that of mortars made with an equivalent amount of slaked putty. The normal process of hydration of a dolomitic quicklime at atmospheric pressure results in the hydration of the calcium fraction only, leaving the magnesiumoxide portion substantially unchanged chemically. When dolomitic quicklime is hydrated under pressure, the magnesium oxide is converted to magnesium hydroxide. This results in the so-called special hydrates (Type S), which not only have their magnesia contents substantially completely hydrated but also have a high degree of plasticity immediately on wetting with water. Mortars made from Type S hydrates are more workable than those made from Type N hydrates. In fact, Type S hydrates are nearly as workable as those made from slaked quicklime putties. The user of this type of hydrate may therefore have the convenience of a bagged product and a high degree of workability without having the trouble and possible hazard of slaking quicklime.

Finishing Hydrated Limes

Finishing hydrated limes are particularly suitable for use in the finishing coat of plaster. They are characterized by a high degree of whiteness and plasticity. Practically all finishing hydrated limes are produced in the Toledo district of Ohio from dolomitic limestone. The normal hydrate is composed of calcium hydroxide and magnesium oxide. When first wetted, it is no more plastic than Type N masons hydrates. It differs from the latter, however, in that, on soaking overnight, the finishing hydrated lime develops a very high degree of plasticity, whereas the masons hydrate shows relatively little improvements in plasticity on soaking.

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