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The world's worst job: Kalkbrænder

Limestone has for centuries been an important bygningsmateriale. In the course of the middle ages – from about the 11. century – in connection with the construction of Europe's many new churches, monasteries and castles – built of stone instead of wood – production increased tremendously, and almost every small town had its own kalkbrænderi.

You know that the people of copenhagen were allowed to break the lime of Saltholm, in the year 1280 exempt from customs duties and taxes. Before it there were almost no stone buildings in Copenhagen. Man burnt and slaked limestone and used it as a binder, ie. the mortar between the stones in the new buildings. It gave a completely different life than in the past. A good proof is the many village churches from the early middle ages that still stand around the country.

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To be kalkbrænder was a dangerous profession. First the limestone is heated in a kiln to around 1100 degrees. The dust that was created in the process, could easily cause blindness, and it was quite flammable and could easily develop the high-octane fires.

Moreover, there is often a part of the carbon monoxide (called CO) in connection with the surf. CO is a toxic gas which in large amounts can hinder the blood's absorption of oxygen, which could lead to the workers was dizzy, disoriented. They could easily get hurt by f.ex. to fall in the oven. Got the burning lime on the skin, it could quickly burn itself deep down in the skin – a little a la napalm.

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the distillation process in a typical kalkbrænderi from the 1700s was to fill the furnace with alternating bands of limestone and coal, then you bricked the entrance to – and then started the burning process, which typically took five to six days. You couldn't just let the burn take care of itself – it was a process that required attention.

Through a small glughul could you keep an eye on the surf, but an experienced writer could only see on the smoke to determine where in the process it had come to.

In Denmark, the required kalkbrænderiet life. In Tårnby kirkebog it is said, that in the year 1786 died smallholder Jeppe Olssøn after severe burns and suffocation after falling into a lime kiln on Kastrup's Work. In 1921, died fyrbøder Knud Jensen at the same distillery in a similar accident. A kalkbrænderi was a dangerous place, and you should be aware.



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You can still see the individual preserved kalkbrænderier around the country. As the production often resulted in a sizable amount of smoke and unpleasant fumes, was kalkbrænderier often located outside the cities.

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