Quicklime (which is also known as burnt lime or calcium oxide) is a chemical compound used in agriculture, mining, and a variety of other industrial processes.
Quicklime is created by heating limestone (calcium carbonate) in a lime kiln to temperatures over 800 C. At this point calcination or lime burning occurs, where a carbon dioxide molecule is released, leaving calcium oxide, or quicklime.
Quicklime reacts with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, absorbing it until it eventually returns back to it's original calcium carbonate form.
When water is introduced to quicklime, calcium hydroxide is formed (which is known also as slaked lime). This process creates an exothermic reaction, or in other words generates a substantial amount of heat.
Slaked lime can be reconverted to quicklime by removing the water through heating.
Because of it's powerful reaction with water, quicklime can cause skin irritation and other problems when it comes into contact with the skin, or is inhaled.
It can cause blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes.
Quicklime produces an intense glow when it is heated sufficeintly.
For this reason it was used in the theatre prior to electric lighting, which is where the phrase "being in the limelight" originates.
Today the vast majority of quicklime is produced in China, with the Chinese producing almost 10 times more than the second largest producer of quicklime.
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