If the internet has taught me anything it’s that if you have enough space and resources, you can do extraordinary things. Take for instance John Plant, whose blog and YouTube channel, Primitive Technology, focuses on making tools, shelter and building materials using natural resources. His work ranges from tool making to simple weaponry to creating several types of shelter. All the materials he uses comes from the wild in Far North Queensland, Australia and his work is impressive.   

In the latest video, he makes lime mortar out of the empty shells of rainforest snails. As he explains in his blog, lime is calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and its primary source is limestone. However, if you have no limestone handy (which most of us don’t), other calcareous minerals can be used such as shells, egg shells, and coral.

Once he collects the snail shells, he crushes them and places them in his handmade kiln and heats them to above 840 degrees Celsius. It’s at this point that the shells decompose into calcium oxide (CaO) aka Quicklime. After that he adds water and turns it into calcium hydroxide CaOH2 or a lime putty. It’s amazingly simple and wonderfully scientific.

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You can read the rest of his process on his blog and while you’re there, be sure to check out his past videos. Plant doesn’t speak in his videos, but he doesn’t need to. They are well-shot and well-edited, so you get the idea of what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. It might also be a good idea to take notes because you never know when you might need a heated bed.



Renee Lopez
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