Calcium oxide, chemical formula CaO. It is chemically unstable and caustic.

The only use of it which I know are to dump it down outhouses to quench the stench. However, I'm sure there are other ones.

Was poured into clay jars and catapulted onto the decks of rival ships by the Byzantine navy. They also employed that trick with jars full of snakes and scorpions. Nasty.

Quicklime
Or: The Sweet Smell of Desiccation

Add enough heat to limestone, and you end up with a white, soft lump of something that doesn't do what normal rocks should when you throw water on them.

It gets hotter.

Yes, But What Is It?

Limestone is a sort of rock, fairly uninteresting to speak to, though reportedly quite a good listener. It's mainly calcium carbonate with bits of other minerals and a spot of magnesium carbonate thrown in for flavor--a favorite ingredient amongst architects. But this is just the base.

When you put it to torch at about 18,000 degrees Farenheit--that's 10,000 Celsius, for those of you who feel your water should freeze at 0--it is calcined, and thus becomes a great deal more fun.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Calcined limestone--CaO/MgO, calcium oxide/magnesium oxide is better known as quicklime, and is characterized by the chemical reaction between it and water that releases comparatively large amounts of heat.

While it's doing that, by the way, the solid rapidly increases its volume. So stand back, and don't touch.

It's Not as Cool As Dry Ice, Is It?

No. Dry ice is much neater to play with. But quicklime is used for a wide variety of industrial applications, including:

And in olden times:

Quicklime (Calcium oxide - CaO), known to Sammy "The Bull" Gravano as an excellent decomposer, is used to get rid of waste materials ranging from banana peels to uncooperative wise guys. Such application derives from lime's distinct ability to raise the pH of soil to a very basic 11.5 which will turn most anything into a slurry of nutrients for hungry plants. This may explain why there are so many weeds growing along the New Jersey Turnpike.

Quick"lime (?), n. [See Quick, a.] Chem.

Calcium oxide; unslacked lime; -- so called because when wet it develops great heat. See 4th Lime, 2.

 

© Webster 1913.

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