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Lime Kiln

Lime is important for many processes and in particular for parchment making. In this area there's no limestone so cooking sea shells is the best way to get it. Start by collecting shells, the bigger the better, oysters and sand gapers are good, basically you want something solid that can easily be separated from the ash at the end. For wood it needs to be thin and really dry, it's all about a fast burn at a high temperature.

For the kiln I've just  built a small round tower with sods with 3 air vents and the bottom and tapering towards the top, if it's wet it's best to prefire it just to drive off any moisture that could keep the temperature down.

stack the wood and shells in alternate layers inside the kiln with plenty of good kindling, shavings etc at the bottom, stack it right to the top.

Light it from the bottom, the air vent facing the wind is best. It should take pretty quickly.

Once its really got going and the level drops a bit add more shells and wood alternately.

When the burn has finished your left with ash and pure white shells that crumble easily, if there's any colour to them or they don't easily snap they're not done so can be put back into the next burn. It's usually just a few around the edge that don't fully burn off the carbon.

The shells are easy to pick out from the ash, they are now quick lime, to make hydrated lime add some hot water to get the reaction started. They will heat up, bubble and give off steam until the reaction is complete, always have enough water in the bucket to just cover them.

I'll be using this batch to make parchment.


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