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Is there a safe alternative to lime in mortar?

Until recently, finding a safe alternative to replace lime in stucco, plaster, grout, and mortar was a difficult proposition.  Type S lime has been a long time staple for those requiring their mix to remain fluffy and sticky.  Afterall, workability is a must.  But finally, there’s a safe alternative that won’t burn skin, irritate eyes, or get you all choked up.

SYNLIME™, from Admix International, is a safe 100% complete lime replacement.  A comparison to Type S Lime reveals some amazing differences:

SYNLIME™ is specifically formulated to produce high plasticity and excellent water retention.  The end result is a more workable mix with higher PSI levels that is clean, safe, and worker friendly.  Its increased bonding strength to foam and wire is also superior to lime.   Is there a safe alternative to lime in mortar?  The answer is a resounding yes… SYNLIME™.

The Toxic Effects of Mason’s Lime

Cement Lime Burns

Lime on the jobsite is an extremely caustic material, and when wet, produces a pH of 12.  Wearing protective goggles, gloves, and clothing should be followed at all times.  Protecting bare skin & eyes from risk of splatter should be given top priority.  It’s always a good idea to have clean water on hand in case of accidental contact.  Skin can be neutralized with a very mild acid such as lemon juice or even vinegar. Repeatedly flushing the eyes with fresh water for several minutes is recommended.  Consulting with a medical professional is also advised.

The farmful effects of lime are far reaching and caution should be used under all circumstances.  Because lime is heavily used in the construction trades, it’s difficult to escape contact completely.  Those who risk exposure to lime include tradesmen in the following industries; masonry, stucco, tile, landscape, plaster, and plumbing, to name a few.  Because lime makes the mix more workable, fluffy, and sticky, it’s charactieristics are very desirable.


Some of the earliest known examples of lime use for building purposes are in early Egyptian buildings (primarily monuments). Some of these examples in the chambers of the pyramids, which date back to around 2000 B.C., are still hard and intact. Archaeological digs carried out on the island of Malta have shown that in places like Tarxien and Hagar, lime stucco was also used as a binder to hold stone together as well as for decoration at sites dating back as far as 3000-2500 B.C.

Ancient Chinese used slaked lime in the construction of The Great Wall of China and in other structures built throughout China during the Ming dynasty.

Lime Substitute for Mortar Mix

We build a lot of block fences and walls around our area and therefore mix a lot of mortar. Me and many of my workers were tired of mixing batches of mortar using lime and getting that itching irritating feeling on our skin. We decided to try one of the lime substitutes and after some looking around we settled on SynLime, mainly because it was easy, it only weighs one pound. Also, for us it’s a local company so if we had any problems we knew where to go. When we mixed up our batch of mortar we poured the pack of SynLime in instead of lime. I’ll tell you, its nice pouring a one pound pack in the mixer rather than hoisting a 50 pound bag. We were surprised how easy it mixed and how well it spread. It was great to work with. The package says it has a stronger PSI than lime. We will see…so far so good.  I’m happy to report no more itching, scratching, or lime burns.

James T.