Lime, hydrated, calcitic, quicklime, fast acting, dolomite. help

Natures_Nature(5 OH)March 12, 2014

Ok, i thought I understood lime. I thought it was basically crushed rock that you throw on your garden. The main purpose is to raise pH, and provide the ideal balance of calcium and magnesium, that's easy, i get that. So you buy a bag of lime, and throw a light dusting of lime on your garden, and your good to go. That's how everyone does it.. It really isn't difficult. "It's as easy as throwing lime on thegarden, some farmers know that saying like easy as cake.

So I go to a local nursery, buy a bag of "horticulural lime", mixed in about 1/4 teaspoon per gal of 511 mix, burned the hell out of my plants. Found out, horticural lime must be hydrated lime, because that's what was in the bag. Then some on this forum, say dolomite, dolomite, get dolomite, it's just crushed limestone. Then I stumbled on "", they say dolomite lime is quicklime. If dolomite lime is just crushed limestone, how is it quicklime, it isn't hydrated to make it quicklime? What's the deal? What kind of limes are there, what's the difference, what's the best for us gardeners to use???

It gets me frustrated, I'm a perfectionist and like to have a thorough understanding of everything I learn. I normally research myself and sort things clear, but I dont have the time now, and I figured a few sentences from you guys would clear things up. Thanks guys, you are awesome!

PS- Im almost frustrated to read my arrogance over.. Please, enlighten me.

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shazaam(NC 7B)

Yes, it's my understanding that horticultural lime is hydrated, so that would explain your experience. What you probably thought you were buying was what's often called agricultural lime, which is high calcium lime. It can be used interchangeably with dolomitic lime, but the latter is preferable since it also provides magnesium. Don't be confused by the term "quicklime" -- "lime" and "quicklime" are often used interchangeably and simply refer to cooked/calcined limestone. Quicklime can then be further processed into hydrated lime.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 7:00PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

Horticulture and agriculture are both about growing plants, so I do not see any big difference between the two. I'm pretty sure people use the words interchangeply, just like some lime terminogy, that's why it's so damn frustrating. I mean if I bought horticultral lime and mixed it quarter strength(1/4 teaspoon per gal, proably little less, honestly) and it burned my plants. I know the rule is a teaspoon per gal of soil, but i'm pretty sure that is dolpmite lime. What even is dolomite lime? One person here says it's ground limestone, another person says it's more processed, another is catergorizes it with quicklime. Is dolomite lime cooked or not?


I don't know if you missed anything, but from my experience the hydrated lime and dolomite lime CANNOT be used interchangebly. Thats exactly what i tried, i even was concerned before hand and only did quater strength of the hydrated lime(1/4 teaspoon per gal). If you are saying they can be used interchangebly, if i would have added a full teaspoon of hydrated lime per gal(just like dolomite) ist would oftotaly fried my plants. Obviously, you CANNOT use the two the same. I'm pretty sure everyone tries to stay away from hydrated lime, then why the hell call it horticultral? It pisses me off to no avail man..

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 7:26PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

I didn't say that hydrated and dolomitic lime can be used interchangeably. They can't. Rather, you misread or misunderstood my post. To repeat, high calcium lime (aka calcitic lime) and dolomitic lime can be used interchangeably in container gardening. Both will work to raise pH and provide calcium (+magnesium for dolomitic), and neither should burn your plants. In my experience, high calcium lime is also referrred to as agricultural lime, but dolomitic might get that epithet too on occasion. Please note that, as I mentioned above, the term "horticultural lime" appears to refer to hydrated lime and is distinct from "agricultural lime." I'm not arguing that the terminology isn't confusing. I'm just trying to help you with the clarification that you requested.

I do have one correction, though -- I did a little reading to refresh my memory, and my comment about quicklime might not be entirely accurate. It would appear that, technically speaking, quicklime is not just another term for lime. Rather, the heating process renders it more reactive than agricultural lime, so it can burn plant roots. It's not as reactive as hydrated lime, but, presumably, it should still be avoided.

Finally, lime is usually used at a rate of one tablespoon per gallon of Al's 5-1-1 mix (if that's what you're using), not one teaspoon.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:41PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

Thanks for clarifying. I'm sorry if I sounded offensive..

So dolomite lime is not cooked? It is merely crushed limestone?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 12:56AM
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There is a lot of confusion about the technical terms of lime. High calcium vs Dolomitic is in reference to the sourcing and mg content. Quick vs hydrated is a separate issue, and refers to the treatment the high-calcium or dolomitic lime has undergone.

In other words, you can have raw dolomitic lime, quick dolomitic lime, and hydrated dolomitic lime. Hydration is not exclusive of the type of lime. It is a treatment to oxidize it and make it "fast". Similarly you can have raw high-calcium lime, quick high-calcium lime, and hydrated high-calcium lime.

I believe the reason that dolomitic is so often referred to in this forum is because dolomite has a much higher content of mg as compared to typical limes.

Visit the National Lime Association's FAQ page.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 11:30AM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

So the dolomite lime everyone recommends on this forum, is just crushed stone, it is not cooked, correct? The same applies to calcitic lime, it is just mined, crushed, and dusted on soil?

Hydrated lime is just cooked lime that has been watered, right?

That FAQ was more confusing than anything. I did a quick search, that faq was the first hit, i clicked on it and it just made things more confusing. That's when I came here and pulled up a chair to talk with yous.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Here's a link which has been posted at this forum before. I hope you'll find it helpful.

Hydrated lime is calcium hydroxide, which is much more caustic than calcium carbonate or calcium magnesium carbonate. According to this link, 0.7 - 0.8 parts hydrated lime is equivalent to one part calcium carbonate in its ability to affect pH.


Here is a link that might be useful: lime link

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 12:23PM
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So the dolomite lime everyone recommends on this forum, is just crushed stone, it is not cooked, correct? The same applies to calcitic lime, it is just mined, crushed, and dusted on soil?
Correct. Quickened or hydrated (no matter what it's source, whether dolomitic or not) can burn as they don't oxidize/ionize slowly in the soil. They react quickly as they are 'prepared' artificially for quick chemical reaction. Just stay away from quick and hydrated unless you are using them for a specific purpose well ahead of planting time.

Look at the analysis of the package you are considering buying. It should list ca and mg percentage. I have read others (Al, et al) suggest a 2:1 ratio of ca to mg. Whether you have dolomitic or not is not so critical as what it contains. Its just that dolomitic naturally has higher mg than other lime sources. Aim for 2:1. If you can't find lime with that high of mg, consider using mg sulfate (epsom salt) in conjunction if you are aiming for the suggested levels/ratios. But if it doesn't have the ~30-40% of a typical dolomite, not a big deal IMO. Hydrated lime is just cooked lime that has been watered, right?That could cause confusion depending on how you are viewing it. It is not a slurry "watered" product. It is still a dry powder that gets all over the place just like the non-hydrated limes.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 1:47PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

Thanks guys! There's just one thing..

Someone said: "According to this link, 0.7 - 0.8 parts hydrated lime is equivalent to one part calcium carbonate in its ability to affect pH."

As I redundantly stated three, four times, I used a quarter teaspoon of hydrated lime(not tablespoon like usually, I was tired, I must of grabbed a teasoon) per gal of soil, it BURNED my plants fairly bad, enough to stress the plant delayed growth for a couple weeks.. So maybe, 70%-80% hydrated lime compared to dolomite lime(use 20-30% less hydrated lime than dolomite) would change the pH the same as domite, but it most definitely will BURN, possibly kill your plant. Remember, i used 1/4 teaspoon of hydrated, you are supposed to use a tablespoon of dolomite lime per gal of soil. So I only added a trivial amount of hydrated lime, compared to the normal dolomite lime. If i would of substituted .7-.8 tablespoon hydrated lime, compared to one tablespoon, theres no doubt my plants would be dead. So maybe they affect pH similarly, but they most definitely cant use almost the same amount of the two interchangeably(.7-.8 tablespoon per tablespoon of dolomite)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 2:41PM
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