Sunday, 4 July 2010

Calcium Carbonate

My main rule with this process of transformation is that starting materials must be dross, detritus, or rubbish so I have had to work backwards from my end product until I have found substances that I can obtain for the lowliest, humblest sources.

So, although I have no need of calcium or carbonate in my end goal, one of the chains leading on to my finished product is CaCO3.

I've looked at many possible sources of calcium carbonate, pure limestones (walking down the street - checking out the paving slabs: "nope - too much iron, nope - too much silica, nope too much... um... 'eugh'!"), sea shells, coral shingle from Connemara but none of them have been humble enough.

I was doing some housework the other day when the plainly obvious smacked me in the face: I live in a hard water area. The kettle here is one of those clever ones that breaks the lime-scale off it's own element. So all I need to do is sloosh out the kettle regularly, dry off the little scales of almost pure CaCO3, and grind them down to a powder.

If only building a lime kiln for the next phase of this chain could be as simple as that. But I must remember, it's the journey that's important not necessarily reaching the goal.

The powder I'm getting out of this operation is very nearly pure... it certainly should be for my purposes. There's probably going to be a little magnesium (bi)carbonate and such like in there. Perhaps purifying it a little more might be a good idea, perhaps not. At this stage, I don't know how I would go about doing that anyway.

The kettle old Chinese takeaway container to dry the scale on the windowsill
and the power almost fully ground in the pestle and mortar.

(Have you noticed that, whilst the Indian takeaways have stuck to good old recyclable aluminium foil for their containers, it seems that all the Chinese ones have gone for microwaveable plastic - can't say I'm happy with that but I prefer a nice bit of aloo saag to a chow mein anyway)

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