THE FOUR ELEMENTS OF LIME
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 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”.
But 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.