Archive for July 5th, 2011

Limestone is a type of sedimentary stone that is very common all over the Mediterranean and Europe. Limestone is made out of the shells of tiny sea snails. Over millions of years, these snails died and fell to the bottom of the sea. Their shells, which contained calcium, remained. The weight of additional shells, sediment, mud, and sand eventually compacted everything into rock. Changes in the earth’s surface (earthquakes, receding or advancing coastlines) left some of this rock on dry land, where it was accessible to humans. When limestone gets even more squashed, it can turn into travertine (Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs) or marble. Limestone is naturally the main source for lime, a primary ingredient in cement. To separate the lime, you have to burn large pieces of limestone in lime kilns. Because it is so readily obtained by heating limestone, lime must have been known from the earliest times, and early civilizations used it in building mortars, whitewash, plasters and as a stabilizer in mud renders.

On Skopelos we have a lime-kiln, on the road to Stafylos on your right hand side, after one of the first bends. You know when it is burning because a big cloud of dark smoke is seen in the air. In the egg-shaped kiln, wood is placed with the limestone in the middle. A fire is lit and is kept burning until the limestone is properly heated. After this the stones are thrown into a bath where they dissolve and later put into bags for use.


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