“There’s something magic in picking up a stone from the Earth,
breaking it up with the Fire, making it a piece of Art by using Water
and bringing it back to its original strength and sturdiness under the influence of Air.
A building practice and an antique philosophy as old as man.“
Empedocles (482-426 BC) The working cycle of lime, from “Della Natura”
The term lime indicates a series of construction materials, known since antiquity, obtained by cooking at high temperature limestone, marble, shells or other materials containing calcium carbonate. The lime processing cycle calls into question the four elements, making it a completely natural product:
The magic of lime starts from a stone. In fact, this completely natural material is originated right in the Earth, from which it gains its vital, mineral characteristics: nontoxic, transpiring, easy to work and resistant to mould and humidity.
It’s the Fire that creates the most important transformation. The pebbles inside the furnace fired with virgin wood sawdust, reach a temperature of 900°C.
This “slow baking” is kept going for seven days, in order to eliminate all the carbon dioxide inside the stone, turning it into calcium oxide, known as “quicklime”.
However, it’s only when the baked stone reaches the Water that it becomes a “hydrated lime”, known as slaked lime.
A very white paste that is left to age for several months in huge basins, following a traditional method established by Andrea Palladio and described in his “Four books of Architecture”.
Lime follows a completely natural cycle that ends only with the action of the Air, when the slaked lime absorbs the carbon dioxide available in the atmosphere. This reaction makes the lime turn solid and sturdy again like the original stone, but with a new life.