Health & safety

Quicklime is dangerous. It is extremely caustic, and can burn skin especially when wet. Eyes must be protected at all times. Goggles, gloves and masks must be worn when handling quicklime.

For this reason it is quite difficult to buy; suppliers will want to know who you are, and why you want it. Another reason for this is that legend has it that lime pits were used by gangsters to dispose of corpses. Suppliers will often try and persuade you to buy lime putty instead of quicklime.

Quicklime reacts violently when it comes into contact with water. It can be a fire risk. It must be stored in a dry place.

It’s best not to store quicklime at all – but slake it immediately and store the lime putty. This was often done at the kiln, so that quicklime was never stored at all. Another reason for this is that quicklime goes off, but lime putty doesn’t (as long as it’s kept underwater).

Slaking quicklime must be done outdoors, or in an open barn / some other extremely well-ventilated building.

To slake quicklime, add the lime to water, and NEVER water to the quicklime. If you add water to the quicklime, it will spit violently.

Gloves, masks, goggles must be worn when slaking.

Children and pets must be kept well away.

A bucket of water and an eyebath must be kept nearby in case of splashes in eyes or on skin.

Lime putty and mortar can also damage eyes and irritate skin. Goggles are advisable when handling lime putty, and gloves should be used if handling putty or mortars.

Limewashes are also caustic. Care should be taken, and goggles and gloves should be worn when applying.

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