There’s no good reason to use lime around horses. Really.


Ammonia is stinky, and can create big problems for your horse’s mucus membranes and lungs.  It’s long been a tradition in the horse work to use lime around horses, but there are better alternatives. 


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  • Ammonia is a by-product of urine, and you know it when you smell it. Unfortunately, ammonia is everywhere and can be hazardous to your horse.


  • Just think about eating with your nose to the ground, where all of the ammonia is. For more details on ammonia and how it creates a danger to your horse, read this article.


  • It’s tempting to use lime, as many horse folks have used it in the past, so it must be OK. Turns out, it’s anything but OK. Either the lime variation is useless and therefore a waste of money, or it’s downright harmful.


side effects of lime for ammonia control

Some of the problems with calcium hydroxide. Skip it.


ag lime bag

Ag lime, AKA calcium carbonate, is useless at absorbing odors (it can cover them up) and it’s super dusty. Not good for horse lungs.


Types of lime: calcium carbonate and calcium hydroxide.


  • Lime (in all of its various forms) has a giant list of horse-unfriendly side effects. For the most part, the following types of lime are used to change the pH balance of the soil. There are better options out there for your horse’s stall!


Calcium carbonate lime.


  • Calcium carbonate. This stuff is called lime, ag lime, daily lime, and garden lime. It’s benign – it won’t burn your horse, or poison your horse. It’s also a super fine powder that has a way of ending up in your horse’s lungs, made from crushed limestone. Dust and ammonia are not friendly to your horse’s lungs.


  • Calcium carbonate also fails to remove ammonia odor, it can only cover it up. It also becomes as slippery as snot when it’s wet – like when it’s put on urine spots! No need to turn your horse’s stall into an ice skating rink.


hydrated lime warning label



Hydrated lime – a super huge NO


  • Calcium hydroxide is also known as hydrated lime. It’s also highly dusty, and when it’s wet (from urine or water) it becomes caustic and can cause serious burns on your horse’s skin. It can also cause eye damage, keeping in mind that eyes don’t grow back.


  • Perhaps the biggest problem is that calcium hydroxide actually causes more ammonia to be formed. This totally defeats the purpose!


Instead of lime around horses, try this: 


  • One popular example is zeolite, which is a mineral that specializes in removing other substances from the environment. Technically it’s a sieve, but I think of it as an ammonia vacuum cleaner.


hand holding sweet pdz zeolite granules

A handful of zeolites from my stash at home – keeps the kitty litter boxes fresh and the garage dry.


  • Zeolites are not toxic and trap ammonia. Time to ditch the lime and find something safer! And for the pocketbook…. zeolite products are about 10 cents cheaper per pound than lime. You can read a novel (not really) about zeolites here.


  • There are also liquid products that you can use instead of lime.  They are usually concentrated and may require drying before you cover them up with shavings. 




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