The Constructor

Lime Concrete – Mix Proportions, Uses and Properties

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Lime concrete is composite mixture of lime as binding material, sand as fine aggregate and gravel as coarse aggregate in appropriate proportions. Lime concrete mix ratio depends on the type of construction, but in general, it can be taken up to 1:2 ratio for lime, sand respectively and up to 1:3 ratio for lime, coarse aggregate respectively.

Lime concrete had wide applications in construction before the trend of using cement as binding material. Now-a-days Lime concrete is also used as a capillary break by laying on top of insulation base which is vapor permeable.

Microscopic view of Lime Concrete
Roman construction using lime concrete

It is well known from 5000 years and was widely used for the construction works all over the world before the replacement of lime with cement. Romans prepared concrete using lime and volcanic rock to build underwater structures.

The seawater reacts with the lime through water molecules hydrating the lime and reacting with volcanic ash binding them all together.

Lime concrete with volcanic rock embedded within

What is Lime?

Lime is great binding material. Calcium carbonate (CaCo3) when heated to a temperature of 1100oC gives quick lime (CaO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Quick lime is a very pure form of lime and highly reactive in nature. Thus, it cannot be stored for more than a week.

Calcination reaction of calcium carbonate

Hence, slacking of lime is done by adding a small quantity of water to quick lime. This gives hydrated lime which is stable in nature and can be easily stored. Slacking of lime is an exothermic chemical reaction and causes a significant volume increase.

Slacking of quick lime

Industrial Classification of lime

Fat lime:

Hydraulic lime:

Poor lime:

Proportioning of lime concrete

Generally 1:1 to 1:3 lime and coarse aggregate by volume; 1:1 to 1:2 lime and sand by volume are taken to prepare the concrete mix using lime as binding material.


First, sand and lime are mixed to form mortar by adding required amount of water in it. After that, coarse aggregates and prepared mortar are mixed thoroughly in the mechanical mixer by adding a proportionate amount of water in batches until a good consistency of the mix is formed i.e, mortar should not tend to separate from the mortar.

Mixing of Lime mortar
Lime concrete batching plant

Properties of Lime Concrete

Carbonation: Lime mortar hardens by absorbing carbon dioxide when exposed to atmosphere to become calcium carbonate again. Hard and strong hardened lime mortar is formed due to this carbonation process by lime returning to its original state i.e., calcium carbonate.

Lime Concrete Uses in construction


Use of lime became obsolete over time due to its inconsistent quality, long initial setting time but lime has been rediscovered to be a more environmentally sustainable binding material. The use of the lime has been evolved over time and used for temporary constructions, insulation purpose, underwater constructions to some extent when mixed with volcanic ash.

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