SIERRA DE TRAMUNTANA
Lime kilns and liming
Walking through Sierra de Tramuntana treasures of Majorcan culture can be observed such as the lime kiln, a traditional construction of the island which was used for obtaining lime by piling up limestone rocks.
In this construction a considerable amount of lime rock was accumulated and the stone was kept at a temperature of between 1000 and 1200 degrees for an approximate period of 12 days. The firewood was for lighting the stove at these high temperatures.
These former constructions so characteristic of island culture can still be observed in some points of Sierra de Tramuntana. It should be recalled that in the past lime was indispensable for our society as it was used a lot for the construction of buildings, for example, the houses were whitewashed in lime or as a cohesive element to make mortar. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that the lime was used medically as many doctors prescribed water with lime or for disinfection. To this end, the application of this product was multipurpose as the limestone had a great number of uses. This is why at that time lime was greatly in demand and this demand required a high production level.
So the lime kilns were no more than small factories where, using fire and limestone and a production process, the lime was obtained to cover the large demand of residents.
Characteristics of the lime kiln:
This construction consists of an excavation or “olla” which was walled up to the upper part of the site surface. In these constructions, to obtain the lime the firewood was gathered from the branches on the lower part of the pine trees, a tree which is predominant in Sierra de Tramuntana. Furthermore, the limestone was mined.
Once the firewood and limestone have been collected, both materials were placed near the kiln and subsequently a vault was formed starting at the inner base of the kiln using very large stones. This vault was built leaving large holes between the stones so that the flames would pass inside them.
The stone was placed on the upper part of the vault so that the rest of the kiln was filled with lime stone. Then, the hole below the vault was filled with fine firewood and finally the latter was lit up. Firewood has to be put in the kiln for nine or fifteen days.
As a result of this process, an average of between 100 and 150 tonnes of lime was obtained which, once baked, was covered with leaves and branches so the rain wouldn’t spoil it.
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