lime barrels


In Ireland, 18th century, a unit of capacity whose official size was 40 gallons but in actual trade was usually 32 gallons.



Very great abuses are practised in the measurement of lime; the statute lime-barrel should contain forty gallons of 217 6/10 cubic inches or five cubic feet: in many places probably half that measure is not given, particularly at Nutfield.

Hely Dutton.
Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, with observations on the means of improvement etc..
Dublin: 1808.
Page 358.


“1 Bar. of Roach Lime by the Irish statute is 40 gal. of 217 6/10 cubic inches.”

“Lime at the kiln 32 Gal. = 1 Bar.”

“Statute Barrel of Lime is 40 Gal. which Mr. G. says is seldom made use of, 32 Gal. being constantly given.”


Edward Wakefield.
An Account of Ireland, statistical and political.
London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1812.
Volume 2, page 200.

There is a curious entry for County Monaghan: “1 Bush. = 40 Qrts. 1 Barrel of Lime = 46 quarts." As 46 quarts would be much smaller than other lime barrels, it may be that “Barrel of Lime” was mistakenly written for “Bushel of Lime.”


In the United States, two units of mass, defined by Congress in 1916.¹  The large lime barrel was to contain a net weight of 280 pounds of lime, and the small lime barrel 180 pounds. In interstate commerce, smaller quantities of lime were to be marked with the fraction of the small lime barrel that they contained, together with the net weight in pounds. Packing the lime in actual barrels was optional.

1. August 23, 1916, c 396 § 1, 39 Stat. 530.

Rules and Regulations for the Enforcement of the Lime-Barrel Act.
Circular of the Bureau of Standards, no. 64.
Washington, D.C.: U.S.G.P.O.,  20 April 1917.


The Sixty-third Congress passed a bill (H. R. 4899) which became effective July 1, 1916, making the standard size of barrels for all dry measures as follows:

“Length of staves, 28½ inches; diameter of heads, 17⅛ inches; distance between heads, 26 inches; circumference at bilge, 64 inches, outside measurement; thickness of staves not greater than 4/10 inch. It is further provided that any barrel of different form having a capacity of 7,056 cubic inches, shall be a standard barrel.”

Opposition to this bill among lime-producers caused the introduction of another bill in the Sixty-fourth Congress, entitled “An act to standardize Lime Barrels” which was approved August 23, 1916, all provisions of the act to become effective January 1, 1917, by which there was established a large and a small barrel of lime, the large barrel to consist of 280 pounds and the small barrel to consist of 180 pounds net weight. (The provisions of these two bills are set forth in “Lime in 1914” and “Lime in 1915” (2A1d) and “A General Statement in Regard to the Standard Lime Barrel Law” has been issued by the Bureau of Standards.)

Journal of the American Institute of Architects, vol. 5, no. 2, page 79 (February, 1917).

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