5 Top Uses of Slaked Lime | Hydrated Lime | Calcium Hydroxide | Pickling Lime

Slaked lime also called hydrated lime has amazing uses. Though it is mainly used in white washing, for using in paan and in cooking (mainly in pickling), it does have medicinal use and health benefits. We call slaked lime sunnambu in Tamil and chuna in Hindi. For many the word slaked lime | chuna is synonymous to paan, as chuna is well known for it’s use in making paan. But many will be surprised when they hear that slaked lime is widely used in home remedies too.

What is Slaked Lime?

When limestone is heated it undergoes thermal decomposition and becomes quick lime. When quick lime reacts with water it forms slaked lime. The formula for slaked lime is Ca(OH)2. Many confuse slaked lime with quick lime, slaked lime is calcium hydroxide and quick lime is calcium oxide and both are known by the same common name as lime. Slaked lime is also called pickling lime as it is used for making pickles and hydrated lime.

Slaked Lime Traditional Uses:

Slaked lime is used to regulate the pH levels of soil, for whitewashing, in certain hair preparations, dentistry, as a natural insecticide and in sewage water treatment. At home, we apply slaked lime when we get stung by wasps. But for using slaked lime in remedies we need food grade slaked lime, usually it is very cheap and can be got very easily everywhere. Food grade slaked lime is the one that is used in paan and for making pickles. Slaked lime has got antimicrobial properties making it very effecting in treating infections and we mostly use it for external application in the form of poultice. In my experience, I feel the slaked lime that is fresh is the most effective for remedies.

Where To Buy Slaked Lime?

We can buy slaked lime in almost all the shops in India as it is widely used for making paan. It is available very cheap. When you buy slaked lime, store it in a airtight box, this will retain the freshness and prevent it from drying out.

Slaked Lime Side Effects:

We should be careful when consuming slaked lime as it can cause burns. When we were younger, we were never to allowed to consume betel leaf with slaked lime as it will cause burns even in small amounts. Even elders use only a very tiny bit while making paan else it will cause intense burning. If you are using slaked lime the first time in paan, use it very very sparingly….

5 top Uses Of Slaked Lime (Hydrated Lime):

1. Slaked Lime For Throat Infection

This is a home remedy that my mom used to use regularly. When she was younger she used to regularly get this infection in the throat, which was not painful but made talking very difficult. We call it “Thondaikattu” in Tamil. My mother said, she was even unable to utter a word when she got this problem. She said that she was asked to do this home remedy and surprisingly each time she used it the problem went away.

Over the years, the problem has diminished and completely stopped. I completely forgot that she even had the problem. My mom reminded me yesterday to record it in the blog, so others experiencing the same problem can benefit out of it. This remedy calls for sunnambu/ slaked lime and honey. To make this remedy, take the required amount of slaked lime in a bowl and add honey to it. Rub it in circular motion to mix both together. You will find the mixture getting hot, now apply this mixture over your throat. Wait till it gets dry before washing off. You can do this daily till you get good relief from infection.

This paste has to used immediately once it is mixed for it to be effective. Another thing I noted was, if you use slaked lime that was kept opened, it doesn’t heat up when mixed with honey, so try to use fresh slaked lime. Here in my village, we get small sachets of slaked lime and it is quite convenient to use it. This paste can’t be stored, so mix only the required amount each time you want to use it.

2. Slaked Lime For Sprains:

Last week one of my aunts visited us after a long time. Since there was a small family get together, lot of our other relations also had come and one of our relations had a slight limp because of a very minor sprain. My aunt asked me whether there was dried banana leaves and slaked lime at home. Since we always have banana trees in our farm, luckily there were few very dried leaves.

She also asked for palm jaggery and made everything into a paste and applied on her ankle. Within a few minutes of applying, the paste dried and our relative felt much better. This is the home remedy that my aunt uses with great success for sprains: We need 1 small dried banana leaf, fresh slaked lime and palm jaggery. To make the remedy, take the dried leaf of banana and burn it, now collect the ash and mix it with little slaked lime and palm jaggery (karupatti in Tamil).

When you mix, it will form a thick paste, now apply this paste immediately over the affected area, it will immediately dry up into a thick coat. My aunt said that she has been using this remedy for a very long time to treat minor sprains for everyone with very good results. The slaked lime that we use for this remedy should be fresh else you will not be able to mix it well. The banana leaves should also be really dry..

3. Slaked Lime For Repelling Insects:

This recipe for homemade insect repellent has been used for generations in our village. It is the same recipe that we use in arathi thattu for weddings. When my son was a baby, everyday I used to put him to sleep in thooli / Indian baby hammock. I followed all the traditions that was practiced for generations in raising a baby.

Though at first I didn’t understand the reason for certain traditions, I just followed them trusting my elders. Now that I am researching into our home remedies and traditions, I am so glad I followed the instructions of my elders. Now all these customs and traditions are backed by science and I am able to understand the reason for these traditions much better now. One such custom is placing a bowl filled with navadhanya grains, slaked lime and turmeric paste under the Indian baby hammock/ thooli.

I never understood the meaning for this ritual, but since I am a firm believer of our traditions, I used to religiously keep the bowl under his bed. Now it has been proven that this mixture is one of the best homemade insect repellent recipes and it helps to protect the child from insect bites. Navadhanya grains is used mainly for navagraha pooja and it contains nine cereals combined together. The navagraha pooja is a prayer offered to the nine planets and the navadhanya grains are said to be effective in purifying the energy field of the place.

We get navadhanya grains already mixed together in markets. To make this homemade insect repellent, first get fresh turmeric paste by rubbing a turmeric over a coarse stone. Mix together navadhanya grains, turmeric paste and water in a bowl. Now to the turmeric and navadhanya mixture, add slaked lime till the mixture turns red. Place this homemade insect repellent mixture under the thooli/ Indian baby hammock. You can also use this recipe for making arthi during ceremonies.

4. Slaked Lime For Making Paan:

Chewing on paan is a traditional practice that has been done for centuries. It is usually had after lunch and it is great for digestion. When I was younger, I used to love sitting near my great grandmother and watch her expertly make paan in the afternoons.

We kids were strictly not allowed paan (homemade paan made without tobacco is actually very good and aids in digestion) as slaked lime will not agree with young children. My great grandma used to take tender betel leaves, remove only the end part and give it to us to chew. Nowadays paan is sold in every nook and corner, I would suggest making the paan yourself at home if you feel like having one.

If you are buying it ready made from the shops make sure it does not have any form of tobacco in it. To make sweet paan on your own, take tender betel leaves, spread slaked lime very very lightly on the back. Add little amount of mukhwas and gulkand on top of it along with some toasted coconut and fold into a parcel. Keep a whole glazed cherry on top and insert a tooth pick through the cherry…

5. Slaked Lime For Making KumKum:

Wearing sindoor/ kungumam/ kumkum is a part of Hindu culture. I love to apply sindoor, though I apply it only for occasions and use liquid bindi on a day to day basis. I have always seen my elders wear sindoor/kumkum. My maternal grandmother used to wear a big sindoor on her forehead daily till my grand father passed away. I love to wear it when I am traditionally dressed in a saree or when I am visiting a temple.

Usually sindoor is applied on the forehead and in the parting line of the hair. In the parting line of the hair, we usually apply it as it is, but on the forehead a special paste called “Kumkum paste” is applied and then we apply the sindoor on top of it. Applying the kumkum paste and then applying sindoor makes the sindoor to stick nicely on the forehead. It is very easy to make sindoor at home. It is just a mixture of slaked lime and turmeric paste, the same mixture that we use for making “Arathi” in ceremonies.

When you mix slaked lime into the turmeric paste, it turns a bright red. You can either mix it fresh or dry and store it. In my personal experience, mixing fresh wet slaked lime with organic turmeric powder gives the best red color and it is exactly how I like to make it. The mixture can be used immediately without the kumkum paste. But if you want to make a large batch and want to store it, mix the turmeric powder and slaked lime along with little water to a smooth paste. Now all you have to do is wait for the mixture to dry.

Once dry, break the clumps and you will have chemical free kumkum. This dried mixture is not as bright red and it will have an orange tinge to it, as seen in the main picture. Add a few drops of lemon juice to form a paste. When you add lemon juice, it turns bright red again. You can apply the paste as it is, since it is wet, it sticks perfectly. Don’t worry if you don’t get perfect circle the first time, with practice you will get perfect round kumkum on the forehead each time…..

24 Comments

  1. subha
    August 19, 2015 / 8:39 am

    hai ramya i got a black mark on my forehead as i used store bought sticker bindhis…. can you plz tell me how to get rid of this?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 25, 2015 / 4:23 pm

      Hi, Try applying kadukkai paste on the area. To get the paste, rub a piece of kadukkai on a smooth stone along with little water…

    • Anonymous
      August 18, 2017 / 2:38 pm

      Hi Ramya, any homemade remedy for curing vitiligo….i have very initial stage …few spots in armpits

  2. Anonymous
    September 8, 2015 / 6:11 pm

    Please I want to know if there is any hearb or fruit that can b added to coconut oil to prevent pre-mature graying of hair without having to let it b permanently inside the oil.since you said curry leave must remain in the oil I sell coconut oil I want to add it to take care of the gray hair thanks

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      September 12, 2015 / 2:46 am

      You can strain out the curry leaves if you don't want them inside the oil. You can also try bhringraj leaves for making the oil (I have the method of making it in the blog)….

  3. Mahalakshmi Venkat
    September 22, 2015 / 1:01 pm

    Hi Ramya,I have blackheads on my cheek and neck.If you can advise some simple home remedies for curing these blackheads, it would be a great relief to me.ThanksMahalakshmi

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      September 24, 2015 / 5:37 pm

      Hello Mam, I usually find drinking lots of water prevents black heads. To treat the existing ones, steam your face using neem leaves and then use a homemade scrub like rice flour mixed with tomato juice or pasipayaru maavu to remove it. After removing the black heads if there is any scars applying fresh turmeric paste only on the area using a q tip will help heal it very fast….

  4. Annabel Robert
    January 18, 2016 / 9:35 am

    Hi RamyaI have been following your blog. You are doing a great job. I would like to check with you about Ashwaganda, is it ok to give to children. I read that Ashwaganda will help children to grow taller and have been giving 1 teaspoon every night to my 14 year old daughter but after one month she is complaining of back pain.Can you please help me with your good advise if I have done something wrong.Look forward to hearing from you soon.Mrs AnnabelSingapore

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      February 6, 2016 / 4:09 pm

      Hi Annabel, after reading your question I did quite a bit of research but I couldn't find any evidence supporting the claim the ashwagandha causes back pain, in fact all the evidence points that it indeed strengthens the muscles and prevents pain. You can read about the study that proves it in children here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221071/

  5. Anonymous
    August 7, 2016 / 3:12 am

    Nice suggestions on home remedies Ramya.I saw one blog where adding slaked lime quantity equal to one piece of wheat in water daily morning for all ages gives strong bones as well as mentally strong…kindly confirm

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 18, 2016 / 3:06 pm

      I am sorry I have not heard of the remedy but I would kindly suggest being very careful while consuming slaked lime as it can give ulcers both in the mouth and the stomach…

  6. Annabel Robert
    August 23, 2016 / 11:18 pm

    Hi RamyaCan you please let me know about Saranai keerai and a good picture of bringaraj leaves also muthiyar kundal.Thank youAnnabel

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 25, 2016 / 2:19 am

      Hi Annabel, You can find the picture for bhringraj here. I will brief posts about the rest of the 2 plants as soon as I can…

  7. JAY GOSWAMI
    September 17, 2016 / 7:45 am

    hi what is the meaning of slaked lime

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      September 26, 2016 / 3:32 pm

      Slaked lime is our regular paan chuna, the paste that we apply on betel leaves. It is called sunnambu in Tamil….

  8. Abhijit
    November 1, 2016 / 10:36 am

    Hello ma'am, my mom(age-53) is suffering from arthritis(knee) pain, can u advice any home remedies for this?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      December 23, 2016 / 3:19 pm

      Mudakathan keerai will help to a great extent, you can find the full details here

  9. Rynco Orchids
    December 22, 2016 / 12:46 am

    I started drinking Padaneer for the last one week and noticed my throat infection which was there permanently has gone. After reading this i understood that for the padaneer ( Palmyrah tree juice taken from its spadix), is prepared with slated lime to prevent fermentation. I tried Homeopahty and other medicines But didn't work

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      December 23, 2016 / 4:12 pm

      I am very very glad that your throat infection is gone. Till today, my mom always uses only slaked lime for treating throat infection…

  10. Anonymous
    February 12, 2017 / 1:37 am

    Hi Ramya..could you please tell me where I could buy slaked lime or sunnambu in Chennai preferably near porur. If you have a specific shop's name or place, even better

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      November 15, 2017 / 3:09 pm

      You can get sunnambu in all the departmental stores in Chennai, just ask for it. Even small shops stock it…

  11. Shapath Das
    September 14, 2017 / 9:06 am

    nice post

  12. Ritu chordia
    November 15, 2017 / 10:54 am

    Can i use lime stone powder for store rice for long time

  13. Ritu chordia
    November 15, 2017 / 10:55 am

    Can i use lime stone powder for store rice for long time

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