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C1 Rocks and Building Materials

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Topic Quiz



A solid (solute) dissolved in water (solvent)


When a compound breaks down into simpler molecules or elements

Limestone Cycle

Limestone is mainly composed of the compound calcium carbonate.

This diagram shows the reaction cycle of calcium compounds.



  • Quarrying uses explosives to break limestone into pieces. It produces dust which may cause breathing difficulties such as asthma
  • It creates noise pollution
  • It may create more traffic to and from the quarry
  • Destroys the landscape and may impact wildlife


  • Creates local jobs
  • Provides building materials: a valuable raw material for cement

Thermal Decomposition

Calcium oxide (quicklime) is produced industrially using a lime kiln, by adding heat (thermal decomposition).

Calcium carbonate —> calcium oxide + carbon dioxide

Carbonates of copper, zinc, calcium and sodium all decompose on heating in a similar way.

This diagram shows how limestone is thermally decomposed into calcium oxide.

Reactions of carbonates

The limestone cycle shown as individual reactions.

Test for Carbon Dioxide

Bubbling carbon dioxide through aqueous calcium hydroxide (lime water) makes the limewater turn milky/ cloudy. This is because this reaction makes calcium carbonate and water.

Other Materials

Limestone is heated with clay to make cement.

Cement is mixed with sand to make mortar, and with sand and aggregate (crushed rock) to make concrete.

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Page last updated: 14/04/2017