Mortar analysis is an important part of reconstructing historical masonry so that it lasts for long periods of time. The mortar analysis process is a scientific one that looks at the exact composition of the mortar used to attempt to create a duplicate, or gather historical information about building composition of the period. Here are the basics of what you need to know about mortar analysis.
The Acid Digestion Technique
The acid digestion technique of mortar analysis is a very popular one that has been used since the mid-nineteenth century. Hydrochloric acid is used to dissolve the binding components in the mortar. The binding component is typically either lime or Portland cement. Any insoluble compounds like sand and dirt will remain. The particles left behind will be sieved to see any differences in sand grain sizes. There is unfortunately no accurate way to currently determine exact proportions using the acid digestion technique, however you can typically make a good guess.
The primary advantages of the acid digestion mortar analysis technique include:
- It is simple and inexpensive
- It provides you with good basic data about the mortar analysis
- Acid digestion gives you a good idea about the coloring agents used
- The sand can serve like a DNA for the mortar that was analyzed. As a result you can compare it to other samples that have been analyzed in the past and try to get more information.
The main disadvantages are:
- Acid digestion can take a great deal of time to complete
- If the sand has acid-soluble particles in it, you won’t get data for those particles
- If there isn’t any binder in the mortar, mud will appear
- Acid digestion mortar analysis cannot tell you the exact ratios used
Instrumental Mortar Analysis
Instrumental mortar analysis uses a wide variety of analytical instruments to get the job done. Trained technicians will use these tools to examine the mortar for many different things and make a conclusion. Instrumental mortar analysis uses atomic absorption spectrometers and X-ray diffractometers to get the job done.
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