The BCCF - for information about calcium carbonate

Home  |  Sitemap  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms & Conditions  |  Links  |  Contact Us

Calcium Carbonate

The World's Most Versatile Mineral

Calcium Carbonate Glossary


Chalk is a poorly compacted sedimentary rock predominately composed of compacted coccoliths (a lime-secreting algae).


Formed as limestone (see below) but the sedimentation process occurs in the presence of magnesium resulting in a dolomitisation process.


Limestone is also a sedimentary rock, but it is more compacted than chalk. It is formed from the remains of microscopic animals or foraminifera.


Marble is a coarse-crystalline, metamorphic rock, which is formed when chalk or limestone are recrystallised under conditions of high temperature and pressure.

Green line

Uses of CaCO3 – Middles Ages to the Industrial Revolution

1700's. Glazing putty - the first sealant made using calcium carbonate

Glazing putty, a mixture of chalk and linseed oil was believed to have been introduced as a sealing material for glass windows.

The first historical reference to a putty formulation is in a book on 'building art' published by Johann Friedrich Penther in 1745. The formulation is believed to have originated from Britain.However, it wasn't until the beginning of the 20th Century that industrially manufactured glazing putty was introduced.

limewashed building

1800's. The industrial revolution drives demand for limewash.

The large increase in the construction of brick and stone buildings in the 18th and 19th centuries increased the use of calcium carbonate in limewash and paints. The industrial revolution also created a demand for calcium carbonate powders from dyehouses and printers. Calcium carbonate suppliers also started adopting industrial production methods.

1840. Synthetic calcium carbonate first produced

Precipitated calcium carbonates (PCC) were first produced commercially in 1841. The first producer was the English company, John E. Sturge Ltd., which treated the residual calcium chloride from their potassium chlorate manufacture with soda ash and carbon dioxide to form what they called precipitated chalk.

In 1898, a new factory was built in Birmingham using the milk of lime process - a process still used today.

Linseed oil – used with cork, wood flour and chalk to male Linoleum

1860. Linoleum – durable floor coverings containing calcium carbonate

Fredrick Walton invented linoleum in 1860 and it quickly become very popular as a home flooring material because of its flexibility and resilience. Linoleum is made from linseed oil and natural resin mixed with cork, wood flour and chalk or ground limestone. It remained a major application for calcium carbonate until production all but ceased by 1965 as it was replaced by vinyl flooring. However, im more recent time times it has been enjoying something of a renaissance.

1880. Chalk powder was used in many household products

Chalk was used in cleaning powders, pastes, detergents, liquid metal cleaning agents, cleaning stones and a wide variety of 'cleaning formulations' that were commercially produced. However, after the 2nd world war this market steadily declined and, just as the case with toothpaste, chalk was rapidly superseded by improved materials.

Late 1800's early 20th century. Mass production of glass using limestone.

19th century glass works


The secret of glass making came to Britain with the Romans. In Britain, there is evidence of a glass industry round Jarrow and Wearmouth dating back to 680AD. However, until the 18th and 19th centuries glass was very expensive and was used for limited applications, such as stained glass windows for churches. Large-scale glass manufacture and use of limestone began with the industrial revolution with the mass production of glass containers beginning at the onset of the 20th century.

Horizintal green line