Sodium Sulfate in Limestone

Gilles Chanvillard’s demo

     This piece of Indiana limestone (the type of stone used in the Empire State Building) was filled with thenardite by soaking it in a solution of sodium sulfate and drying it above 40˚C a few times. In this video, the stone is submerged in a solution of sodium sulfate saturated at room temperature. As the solution invades the pores of the stone, the thenardite dissolves and mirabilite precipitates, growing with a very high driving force. As a result, the stone is destroyed in the course of an hour.

     To understand why thenardite transforms into mirabilite with such destructive energy, read “Crystallization damage by sodium sulfate”, N. Tsui, R.J. Flatt, G.W. Scherer, J. Cultural Heritage 4 (2003) 109-115

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