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Subject:  CalCarb

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Date Posted


Springfield, Missouri

Link 1: http://www.colby.edu/chemistry/CH142/CH142B/SolubilityCalciumCarbonate.pdf

Link 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_carbonate

Link 3: http://www.xtreme-gardening.com/products/calcarb

Teaspoon= 4.9289 cm³
Density of Calcium Carbonate= 2.71 g/cm³
Solubility of Calcium Carbonate= 5.8x10-3 mol/L
Molecular Weight of Calcium Carbonate = 100 g/mol
Melting Point: Decomposes to CaO @ 840 °C

2/27/2014 5:16:03 PM


Springfield, Missouri

I know CalCarb has been discussed on other forums before, but I just wanted to walk through the chemistry of how it works. RTI / Extreme Gardening recommends 1 teaspoon of CalCarb per liter. We are going to figure out how many grams are in a teaspoon of calcium carbonate. We take 4.9289 cm³ multiplied by 2.71 g/cm³ to equal 13.36 g calcium carbonate per teaspoon.

The solubility of calcium carbonate at a pH of 6.5 is 5.8x10-3 mol/L. In order to figure out how much calcium carbonate will dissolve in a liter of water we do the following equation. 5.8x10-3 mol/L multiplied by molecular weight of calcium carbonate 100 g/mol, equals 0.58 grams per liter. So it doesn't matter how finely ground the CalCarb is only 0.58 grams will dissolve in one liter... that is chemistry. In other words only add 1 teaspoon for every 6 gallons of water.

Here is another discrepancy on Extreme Gardening page “ CalCarb is an unusual form of calcium carbonate that is highly unstable, converting to calcium oxide (CaO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) rapidly when applied to the foliage” If the laws of physics still apply then calcium carbonate doesn't decompose into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide until it reaches 840 °C. I also know of no enzyme that facilitates this reaction. It is possible for the Ca ion and HCO3 ion to interact and form compounds with other ions. It is also worth noting that CO2 is only released when the calcium bicarbonate dries.

Also please be aware that you are spraying calcium carbonate onto your plants. The hydroxide ion is formed when calcium carbonate reacts with water CO3 + H2O → HCO3 + OH. Hydroxide will oxidize tissue and can cause damage to the leaves.

Food for thought. If anyone has papers on the effects of CalCarb pleas post them. My aim is not to discredit anyone, but to educate so that everyone can make informed decisions. Many of the products we use aren't regulated so it is up to the growers to look out for

2/27/2014 5:16:29 PM


Pocatello (cliffwarren@yahoo.com)

Calcium carbonate? Lime? If anyone wants lime you are welcome to a few shovel fulls of my natural soil, pH 7.9.

I do know that my leaves aren't happy when my soil gets on them. Their life span is short enough already.

Here is a question: When I put a few tablespoons of my natural soil in a jar and add vinegar, it fires up like a kid's science experiment. Do all soils do this, or can this be used as a crude test for free lime?

2/28/2014 10:55:56 AM


Paradise Mountain, New York

So are you saying Logan that even thou many growers use it, it really doesn't do any good as what really needs to take place for it to really work

2/28/2014 2:18:05 PM


Springfield, Missouri

Pretty much... There are no scientific articles to validate the claims that Extreme Gardening makes about their product. According to Extreme Gardening's website CalCarb is just finely ground calcium carbonate.

The chemical properties of calcium carbonate are in my first post. There is no way for CalCarb to decompose into CaO and CO2 at the temperatures experienced in our gardens. Calcium carbonate won't increase the rate of photosynthesis (based of it's physical and chemical properties).

Calcium carbonate has a low solubility so only a small quantity of calcium would be supplied to our plants. The pH of a saturated water/calcium carbonate solution is around 8.25.

Potassium Bicarbonate is known to have fungicidal properties so it may be possible for CalCarb to prevent powdery mildew? If you want to experiment with calcium carbonate as a fungicide there are cheaper sources.

2/28/2014 5:38:40 PM


Paradise Mountain, New York

Extreme Gardening web site shows there calcium carbonate for $ 49.95 in a 6 oz. bag. Here you can buy 40 lbs. for $ 34.16 with free shipping. https://www.kelp4less.com/shop/calcium-carbonate/

2/28/2014 6:03:37 PM


Paradise Mountain, New York

I think there making a lot of money off a cheap natural product that is mined in Id.

2/28/2014 6:05:18 PM


New Richmond WI

I was thinking I need to buy this product ... but now I am thinking this is one product I can do without on my tighter budget. Thank you. Next.

2/28/2014 6:45:08 PM

Josh Scherer

Piqua, Ohio

say what you want about cal-carb. In 2012 I had 10 days in a row at 102 plus degree days, the only plant to survive was the one that got weekly applications of cal-cab. Coinsidence? I doubt it!

3/1/2014 8:10:54 AM

John H

Dundee Michigan

Josh---Just wondering what rate you used, type of application(backpack or handheld), top of canopy, and or underside of plant. 2012 was a hot dry here too. Thanks

3/2/2014 12:47:28 PM

Pumpkinman Dan

Urbandale, Iowa

I wonder if CalCarb and Lithovit are "equivalent"?

I think the mechanism of action is basically the same. The Lithovit website has more scientific info than the CalCarb product page does.


Josh---info on Lithovit and drought via the link below. Maybe can infer from this your experience with CalCarb during those 102 degree days . . .


3/2/2014 11:20:16 PM


Springfield, Missouri

I just wanted to say thanks for all of the posts, and I really enjoy discussing these topics with you. I'm taking an advanced plant physiology class right now, and it is fascinating how complex some of these processes are. I admit these products may help. I think that Ken has provided us a good place to discuss and try to quantify the benefit of these products given the science behind them.

Dan thanks for the links, and I do believe they are the same product. "tribodynamic activated and micronized natural CO2 foliar and soil fertilizer from German selected natural limestone". "Tribo-dynamic" and "micronized" are fancy words for this limestone was ground up into dust. As soon as you add these products to water they begin to interact and reform their crystal lattice.

To picture this imagine adding so much table salt to water that it no longer dissolves. This is called a saturated solution. If you stir this mixture the salt that isn't dissolved would be "in suspension". "Once LITHOVIT is suspended in water and sprayed onto leaves". If you stop string your salt suspension the particles will slowly settle on the bottom and form larger crystals. This is an explanation of why microparticals aren't needed. If you want to use lime pellets soak them in warm water, mash them into a paste, and then suspend the paste into water.

3/3/2014 1:27:50 AM


Springfield, Missouri

Lithovit discusses the how the residue left on the leaves can contribute to the release of CO2. I acknowledged this in my second post, third paragraph, "It is also worth noting that CO2 is only released when the calcium bicarbonate dries". So basically when dew forms on the leaves at night the water interacts with the CO2 in the air and the calcium carbonate on the leaves forming calcium bicarbonate. When the dew dries in the early afternoon the calcium bicarbonate becomes unstable and releases CO2 becoming calcium carbonate again. The amount of the CO2 that the plant gets from this reaction is dependent on multiple factors including wind and heat.

As for the second mode of action the stomata are on the underside of the leaves and are very small. This means very small amounts of calcium carbonate will get into the plant. The next part is where Prof. Dr. Abdel-Latif Bilal should know better or where Lithovit misquotes him. There is no way for protons (hydrogen ions) produced from photosynthesis to interact to form carbonic acid. Look up the electron transport chain and calvin cycle. If the protons are used the entire electron transport chain would collapse, no energy could be produced, CO2 wouldn't be fixed due to lack of ATP and NADPH, and photoresparation would still occur. There may be free protons that interact with calcium carbonate, but they don't come from photosynthesis.

3/3/2014 1:52:00 AM


Springfield, Missouri

2012 was a hard year for most of us in the mid-west. In 2012 I was doing my interspecific hybrid project in Missouri, and it was darn hot. I grew 5 species (within the Cucurbita genus), with a total of 27 plants, 5 of which were Atlantic Giants. The C. ficifolia plants tanked early, and the c. lundelliana weren't effected. Of my 5 AGs one of them, the 1091, experienced very little damage.

All of the plants were treated the same. The 1091 Foss had shorter smaller leaves, so genetics can play into it. The soils water potential and osmotic potential can also be huge factors in hot dry years.

3/3/2014 2:18:19 AM

John H

Dundee Michigan

Thanks Logan, good stuff. John

3/3/2014 8:27:20 AM


Corvallis, OR

My theory is the Ca diffuses into the leaf,
Remaining CO3- + H20 --> CO2 + OH-

3/7/2014 5:31:06 PM


Bloomington, IN USA

Is there any way to have the leaves tested for Ca content & compare sprayed & unsprayed leaves?

8/18/2014 10:16:12 PM

Phil and Jane Hunt - GVGO


Yes, I'm sure you could test it. Spray one plant & not the other. Wait a couple days & send in a sample leaf from each one for a tissue test. That should work.
Just so you know, Jane & I were part of the original test group for Lithovit here in Canada & have been using it faithfully (every 2 weeks) since 2009 (year we grew our 1678). We really like it & have had some decent results over the past 5 years. Here are our PBs since starting it. 1678# kin, 1233# Sq, 123" LG, 7.33# mater, 93# cabbage, 97# FP & a 222.4# melon.

Good luck, J&P

8/19/2014 9:39:42 AM

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