Lithium silicate is a compound that uses lithium to act as a transport agent for silica. Lithium silicates have many uses across different industries. It’s most commonly used for concrete surface treatment, specialty paints and coatings and refractory ceramic and glazes.
Lithium disilicate is used to manufacture crowns in dentistry and as a corrosion inhibitor in the marine industry. It can also be used as a bonding agent in fibreglass. Bisley supplies lithium silicates for use as a concrete hardener and sealer. Still, we have stocks of different lithium compounds on hand.
How Does it Work?
Silicate is applied to polished concrete floors as a liquid coating. The liquid penetrates between four and five millimetres into the concrete, reacting with calcium hydroxide, a byproduct of mixing concrete powder with water.
The reaction produces calcium silicate, which settles in the concrete’s pores, close to the surface. This reaction makes the surface of the concrete denser, more durable and more resistant to stains.
The appearance and texture of the concrete are also smoother with a silicate coating. Sodium, potassium or lithium elements act to transport the silica into the concrete. This reaction between the silica and the calcium hydroxide is what improves the properties of the concrete surface.
Why Use Lithium Silicate?
You could use sodium and potassium silicates for a similar effect. They also cost less than lithium silicates. So what makes lithium a better option? The reasons that lithium is preferred to sodium or potassium are many. We’ve listed a few of these for your benefit:
- Lithium silicates only take around six hours to dry. By comparison, sodium takes about 24 hours to dry.
- You have to apply two coats of sodium silicate. Only one coat of lithium silicate is needed.
- Lithium silicates are less soluble when dried.
- Lithium silicates are less alkaline than alternatives, making them more environmentally friendly.
- Lithium is more reactive than sodium or potassium, so it supports a higher concentration of silica. The higher silica concentration means that you apply the lithium silicate more lightly to the concrete surface, leaving less residue to clean afterwards.
- Less residue to dispose of reduces costs.
- Lithium gives it better bonding properties. You can improve potassium or sodium alternatives properties by adding lithium silicate.
- The lithium silicate has a higher flash point than sodium or potassium, making it easier and safer to store and transport.
Lithium silicates have many applications across multiple industries. The most common one is as a densifier and hardener for the concrete. The lithium’s larger size and higher reactivity mean that a lithium silicate does a more efficient job than the alternatives.
You are left with a more abrasive resistant surface and more water-resistant, and a smoother, more polished texture. The reduced residue and lower alkalinity both make lithium a more environmentally-friendly transport mechanism for silica. Being less flammable than sodium or potassium silicates the lithium is safer to store and transport.