AskDefine | Define limewater

Dictionary Definition

limewater n : solution of calcium hydroxide in water used as an antacid

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. a solution of calcium hydroxide in water, used as a simple test for carbon dioxide, and in skin preparations

Alternative spellings

Extensive Definition

Lime water or milk of lime is the common name for saturated calcium hydroxide solution. Its chemical formula is Ca(OH)2. The term is based on the mineral sense of lime, rather than the fruit sense of lime. Lime water used as a paint is called lime wash (see whitewash).

Etymology

Making lime water

Lime water can be made by mixing excess calcium hydroxide with distilled water, or deionized water. The mixture needs to be shaken to ensure the solution is saturated with calcium hydroxide. It is then left to settle and the clear "saturated" solution is siphoned off the sediment.

Uses of Limewater

Chemistry

In chemistry, limewater can be used to test the presence of carbon dioxide because lime water reacts with carbon dioxide to produce a precipitate of calcium carbonate:
Ca(OH)2 (aq) + CO2 (g) → CaCO3 (s) + H2O (l)
Lime water is also used in experiments involving aerobic or anaerobic respiration, to determine whether carbon dioxide was produced. When lime water reacts with CO2 it becomes milky, because of the calcium carbonate, or chalk, produced.

Medicine

When the old vaudeville style medicine shows promoting various patent medicines were in full swing, lime water was often used as a part of the act. The salesperson would have an audience member blow through a straw into a glass of lime water. Since their exhalations contained carbon dioxide, the water would turn cloudy; the huckster then announced that this reaction proved that the audience member suffered from some ailment. If too much carbon dioxide comes into contact with the cloudy limewater, it will cause the calcium carbonate precipitate to redissolve to form soluble calcium hydrogencarbonate.
CaCO_3(s) + CO_2(g) + H_2O(l) \rightarrow Ca(HCO_3)_2(aq)
The huckster had a patent medicine bottle filled with vinegar or some similar acid. He then would pour some of the acid into the glass of cloudy limewater. The acid reacted with the calcium carbonate, and the water would instantly clear. This demonstrated the potent effect of the nostrum he was selling to eliminate the "disease" demonstrated by the reaction.

Meals

Lime water is also used in the traditional making of tortillas

Sugar

Lime water is used to make sugar from sugar beets

Arts

In buon fresco painting, lime water is used as the colour solvent to apply on fresh plaster

Misc

Lime water is widely used by marine aquarists and is a primary supplement of calcium and alkalinity for reef aquariums. Corals of order scleractinia build their endoskeletons from aragonite (a polymorph of calcium carbonate) and by doing so, usually form a reef. Calcium concentration in natural seawater is about 420 ppm. When used for this purpose, lime water is also referred to as "Kalkwasser".

References

limewater in German: Kalkwasser
limewater in French: Eau de chaux
limewater in Polish: Woda wapienna
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