Whitewash Recipe

By The Old House Web

I'm searching for a source of whitewash, or a recipe for making whitewash.Can you help? -- Barbara

By Kendall Holmes

At its simplest, whitewash is nothingmore than a thin liquid plaster made from slaked lime and water.

But according to some of the books on my shelf here in the office (I've no first-handexperience with the stuff!) other materials were often added, including sugar, glue, alumand oyster shells. And for color, you could throw in yellow ochre, charcoal dust or brickdust.

Whitewash was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries in America, but by the mid 19thcentury, it was used mostly on fences and the exteriors of cottages, barns and otheroutbuildings.

As for specific mixing instructions, one of our bulletin board visitors at Old House Web with plenty of experience with the stuff offers the following tips. He notes that exact amounts are not critical -- but the methodology is.

Calcium Hydroxide is an agricultural product used to modify soil properties and shouldbe available quite cheaply (about $6 Canadian for 20kg) in a farm or agricultural supplydepot.

Solution 1: Soak 3 kg Hydrated Lime (Calcium Hydroxide) in 8 litreswater overnight to make a thick, creamy paste. This allows the calcium into the water andis referered to as 'slaked lime,' which is the basis for house plaster.

Solution 2: Totally dissolve 2 kg table salt in 10 litres water. Thesalt adds 'body' so that the whitewash will wear well.

When ready to apply, drain excess water from Solution 1 and thoroughly mix enough ofSolution 2 into all of Solution 1 to achieve the desired consistency. Thicker is betterthan thin as you cannot thicken the end product by adding more calcium.

Thin with water if required, but do not thicken by adding morecalcium as the added calcium must soak (slake) properly before using.

1 kg powdered animal glue may be added to improve adhesion and wearability. May betinted with a water-based media if desired.

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