Lime and the Formation of Salts
In chemistry an understanding of the antitheses is of the greatest importance. The process of combustion was our point of departure. Salt-formation is the antithesis of combustion. This process is best exemplified in lime. We show samples—as many and varied as possible —of the forms in which lime occurs in nature; sea-shells, and the shells of snails, coral, calcareous sponges, ammonites, chalk, as well as a great variety of bones. All these things originate in the animal kingdom. Then follows rocks whose organic origin is evident, as for example: limestone from the upper fresh-water formations, ammonite marble and ” Trochitenkalk,” and finally, calcareous spar, statactites and various marbles are shown. The more varied these samples are, the better. And now one asks how all these structures originated ? They have all been deposited by water. It has taken long years for the stalactites, for instance, to grow out of the water. In the oceans a continuous fine rain of dead animal life is sinking to the bottom and being deposited as calcareous mud. Chalk originated from innumerable shells of the tiniest creatures. In this way whole mountains have been formed, such as the chalk cliffs on the North Sea and the Baltic. In the same way sea shells are deposited and form shell limestone. All this takes long ages. Slowly the chalk ranges are built. Chalky matter sinks to the bottom of the sea and forms solid earth. Here we are faced with quite a different phenomenon from that of combustion. In the latter case we set alight various plant parts which changed to fire and smoke and disappeared. Now we have before us an almost unlimited variety of shells and rocks. All of them have either solidified out of water or been separated from live creatures. It is a similar process to the one which takes place when salt is deposited by the sea. Heat, light and air are the active principles in fire. Very little solid matter is left. Quite otherwise are the processes of crystalisation and the deposition of chalk and other salts. Chalk indeed has its origin in the living, but it does not act like fire which devours all that lives and takes it back to heaven. Instead it brings all down to solid earth from out of the watery element of life. Gravity becomes dominant.
Water not only allows chalk to sink to the bottom, but also dissolves it again. At a later stage there may again be deposits. The stalactites in caves originate in this way as does tuffaceous limestone and the chalky crust which forms quite soon on objects immersed in certain wells, for instance at Carlsbad. Streams and rivers dissolve much chalk and bear it away with them. Now if there is so much chalk in the rivers, there should be a great deal more in the water of the sea into which all the rivers flow. But sea water contains hardly any chalk. Whither has it gone ? Into the bodies of all marine creatures, into the shells of molluscs, into coral, and so on. And when these creatures die they will sink to the bottom again to form chalk hills. There is thus a sort of circulation of lime which includes animal life at one stage. Actually all lime originates in the animals, for marble, stalactites, calcareous spar have all been crystalised out of water in which chalk deposits have been dissolved. And when these in their turn are dissolved they go to make up the shells of marine creatures and to build bone. One cannot consider lime apart from the animal kingdom. In ancient times this was known and found expression in the Latin saying ” omnis calx e vermibus ” (all chalk comes from worms), for thus they spoke of the lower animals. Chalk is either formed as deposit from living fluids, or crystalised out of water. Water carries chalk all over the globe and then deposits it. The earth can thus be considered as built up from the water. For this and all similar processes of deposit by water, we shall use the term: salt-formation.
Children’s reaction to such a demonstration of salt- formation is quite different from their reaction to fire. The latter has an exciting effect particularly on choleric children, but indeed most children become more lively and even somewhat choleric when watching fire. Its effect is on the will, on the metabolic system and the blood. When they consider chalk, it is quite otherwise. The mood becomes more pensive. They are moved to think how this immense variety of rocks has been built up through long ages. Crystalisation takes time. It can only take place at rest. When snow falls and an infinite number of crystals blanket the earth, this” too is a kind of salt-formation. True, no salt is formed in the chemical sense, but the phenomenon is similar. Now the question may be suggested: if fire works in man’s blood and in the actions of his limbs, in what part of his body does this salt-formation take place ? For the most part in the head where there is the most bony substance. We could never think and give anything our calm understanding, if chalk were not being deposited in the head. Moreover, there would be no bony frame. Thus the connection of the salt- forming process in man is established. The burning processes were shown at work in the lower part of man and in his limbs. Salt-formation is at work in the upper part, in the head. We have also seen how dead matter from living organisms is excreted from organisms. Indeed a great part of the earth originated in this way. No one who has thoroughly absorbed this can ever attempt to explain living substance in terms of dead matter. The study of chalk has thus been linked up on the one side with man, on the other with the world.
- WATER AND THE METALS