Calcium oxide

Chembox new
Name = Calcium Oxide
ImageFile = Calcium-oxide-3D-vdW.png ImageSize = 200px
ImageName = Calcium oxide
IUPACName = Calcium Oxide
Section2 = Chembox Properties
Formula = CaO
MolarMass = 56.077 g/mol
Appearance = White solid
Density = 3350 kg/m³, solid
Solubility = "reacts"
MeltingPt = 2572 °C (2845 K)
BoilingPt = 2850 °C (3123 K)

Section3 = Chembox Structure
Structure = Face-Centered Cubic

Calcium oxide (CaO), commonly known as burnt lime, lime or quicklime, is a widely used chemical compound. It is a white, caustic and alkaline crystalline solid. As a commercial product, lime often also contains magnesium oxide, silicon oxide and smaller amounts of aluminium oxide and iron oxide. The name lime (native lime) refers to a very rare mineral of the CaO composition, too.

Calcium oxide is usually made by the thermal decomposition of materials such as limestone, that contain calcium carbonate (CaCO3; mineral name: calcite) in a lime kiln. This is accomplished by heating the material to above 825°C,Merck Index of chemicals and Drugs , 9th ed. monograph 1650] a process called calcination or "lime-burning", to liberate a molecule of carbon dioxide (CO2); leaving CaO. This process is reversible, since once the quicklime product has cooled, it immediately begins to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, until, after enough time, it is completely converted back to calcium carbonate. Calcination of limestone is one of the first chemical reactions discovered by man and was known in prehistory.Fact|date=July 2008

Up until the 20th century, quicklime was used as a disinfectant, usually in a 10% solution called milk of lime. However, it had the disadvantage of decomposing rapidly on exposure to air and moisture, and the burnt lime had to be fresh and unslaked. [ A Complete Handbook for the Sanitary Troops of the U.S. Army and Navy (1917)] ]


As hydrated or slaked lime, Ca(OH)2 (mineral name: portlandite), it is used in mortar and plaster to increase the rate of hardening as well as to improve adhesionFact|date=October 2007. Hydrated lime is very simple to make as lime is a basic anhydride and reacts vigorously with water. Lime is also used in glass production and its ability to react with silicates is also used in modern metal production industries (steel, magnesium, aluminium and others) to remove impurities as slag.

It is also used in water and sewage treatment to reduce acidity, to soften, as a flocculant, and to remove phosphates and other impurities; in paper making to dissolve lignin, as a coagulant, and in bleaching; in agriculture to improve acidic soils; and in pollution control, in gas scrubbers to desulfurize waste gases and to treat many liquid effluents. It has traditionally been used in the burial of bodies in open graves, to hide the smell of decomposition, as well as in forensic science, to reveal fingerprints. It is a refractory and a dehydrating agent and is used to purify citric acid, glucose, dyes and as a CO2 absorber. It is also used in pottery, paints and the food industry. Furthermore, quicklime is used in epidemics, plagues, and disasters to disintegrate bodies in order to help fight the spread of disease. CaO is a key ingredient in the "nixtamalization" process used to create corn hominy and masa or tortilla dough.

A relatively inexpensive substance, CaO produces heat energy by the formation of the hydrate, as in the following equation:US Patent 3,955,554, " Solar heating system."]

::CaO + H2O ↔ Ca(OH)2 + 63.7kJ/mol of CaO

The hydrate can be reconverted to calcium oxide by removing the water in the reversible equation. If the hydrated lime is heated to redness, the CaO will be regenerated to reverse the reaction. As it hydrates, an exothermic reaction results. One litre of water combines with approximately 3.1 kg of calcium oxide to give calcium hydroxide plus 3.54MJ of energy. This process can be used to provide a convenient portable source of heat, as for on-the-spot food warming in a self-heating can.

World lime annual production is around 130 million metric tons, with the USA and China the largest producers, each producing around 20 million metric tons. []

Use as Ancient Weapon

Historian and philosopher David Hume, in his history of England, recounts how during early in the reign of Henry III the English Navy destroyed an invading French fleet, by blinding the enemy fleet with "quicklime," the old name for calcium oxide:

D’Albiney employed a stratagem against them, which is said to have contributed to the victory: Having gained the wind of the French, he came down upon them with violence; and throwing in their faces a great quantity of quicklime, which he purposely carried on board, he so blinded them, that they were disabled from defending themselves.

David Hume, History of England, Volume II.


External links

* [ An authoritative discussion of lime and its uses (US context) by the US Geological Survey]
* [ Factors Affecting the Quality of Quicklime]
* [ "American Scientist"] (discussion of C14 dating of mortar)
* [ Chemical of the Week -- Lime]
* [ Lime production process presentation]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • calcium oxide — n. a white, soft, caustic solid, CaO, prepared by heating calcium carbonate; lime: used in making mortar and plaster, in ceramics, etc …   English World dictionary

  • calcium oxide — kalcio oksidas statusas T sritis chemija formulė CaO atitikmenys: angl. burnt lime; calcium oxide; calx; caustic lime; lime; quicklime rus. жженая известь; кальция оксид; негашеная известь; обожженная известь ryšiai: sinonimas – degtos kalkės… …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • calcium oxide — noun a white crystalline oxide used in the production of calcium hydroxide • Syn: ↑quicklime, ↑lime, ↑calx, ↑calcined lime, ↑fluxing lime, ↑unslaked lime, ↑burnt lime • Derivationally related forms …   Useful english dictionary

  • calcium oxide — noun A white powderous substance, CaO, commonly known as lime or quicklime; normally made by heating calcium carbonate …   Wiktionary

  • calcium oxide — noun Date: 1869 a caustic solid CaO that is white when pure and that is the chief constituent of lime …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • calcium oxide — lime1 (def. 1). * * * …   Universalium

  • calcium oxide — a corrosively alkaline and caustic earth, CaO, used for absorbing carbon dioxide from air, and industrially as a cheap alkali and as a base for mortar; called also calx, lime, and quicklime …   Medical dictionary

  • calcium oxide — n. lime, soft white caustic powder …   English contemporary dictionary

  • calcium oxide — noun a white caustic alkaline solid commonly produced in the form of quicklime. [CaO.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • Calcium carbonate — Calcium carbonate …   Wikipedia

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