Salt are considered as an important cause of weathering of building materials and natural rock. One of the proposed mechanisms of this weathering is crystallization pressure, which is the pressure of the crystal caused by its surface tension (see figure 1)

Figure 1: A schematic drawing of a crystal confined in a pore. Because of the surface tension the crystal it is under pressure.

This mechanical pressure causes the solubility of the salt inside the pore, i.e., a porous material to be different from the bulk solubility:

Hence the crystallization pressure can be assessed experimentally by measuring the solubility increase inside a porous materials during crystallization. In general the solubility will  higher and is referred to as supersaturation (Be aware: in this case it is an equilibrium).  With NMR we were able to measure the solubility of Na2CO3 and Na2SO4 in a series of model porous materials. In figure 2 the measured solubility is given as measured for Na2CO3 for various pores sizes.

Figure 2. Na2CO3 solubility inside the pores of Nucleosil. The various curves reflect the bulk literature values or
fits to the data with a supersaturation ratio of 3.1 for the 5 nm pores,
2.3 for the 10 and 12 nm pores and 1.1 for the 30 nm pores.

As can be seen there is a clear increase in the solubility for the 5 and 10,12 nm pores. Using these data the surface energies were determined as gcl=(0.09 ± 0.02) N/m for Na2CO3. The resulting pressure of the crystal can be expressed as  P=0.045 (Nm-1)/r . Assuming a tensile strength of 3 MPa for building materials the typical pore size blow which the crystal may cause damage is 30 nm. For Na2SO during the experiments a metastable phase was observed (i.e., Na2SO4. 7 H20) which had no excess pressure and consequently will give no damage. However based on the ezepriments a estimate was made of the surface energie for Na2SO4. 10 H20 :gcl =(0.06 ± 0.02) N/m for Na2SO4. 10 H20. Hence the pressure can be expressed as  P=0.03 (Nm-1)/r . Hence it is evident that this damage mechanism can ony work for very small pores.