The Elements of Concrete: Concrete is NOT Cement

ElementsHave you ever had an occasion to wonder, just what is concrete? It is everywhere, found in almost every construction project, so we probably don't really think about it. These days the technology of concrete is actually changing all the time but there are some basic ingredients that you should know about and some specialty options. For the best choice in Utah for concrete construction contact Ryan Kartchner Concrete Construction.

When I was in Alaska we traveled past a limestone quarry on our tour. I mistakenly said that limestone is one of the most important elements used in construction because it is needed in the making of “cement.” One of my passengers familiar with construction corrected me. Now I know that concrete and cement are not interchangeable names. Concrete is NOT cement!

What IS Cement?

Cement is a fine, soft, powdery-type substance. It is made from a mixture of several elements that are found in natural rocks such as limestone, clay, sand and/or shale.


Here are some interesting facts about cement:

• Cement is usually gray. White cement can also be found but it is usually more expensive than gray cement.

• Cement mixed with water and sand, forms cement plaster.

• Cement mixed with water, lime and sand, forms mortar.

RK Concrete Cracked Concrete

• When cement is mixed with water, it can bind sand and gravel into a hard, solid mass that is called concrete.

• Four essential elements are needed to make cement. They are Calcium, Silicon, Aluminum and Iron.

• Cement powder is very, very fine. A 2 lb. bag contains over 300 billion grains of powder. It is so fine it will pass through a sieve capable of holding water.

Contractors Tip: Cement should be stored in a dry area. If it gets wet or damp the powder will turn into a hard lump.

What is Concrete Then?

Concrete is a “heterogeneous composite material that consists of aggregates (sand, crushed rock or gravel) and a binding medium made of Portland cement and water.” The most widely used ingredients that make up cement are limestone and clay.

Primary materials can be replaced by recycled concrete and by-products from other industries, such as fly ash and slag, can be used to replace the Portland cement. In construction, concrete consumption due to the immense benefits in various application and different forms, is increasing; In fact, the most widely used building material is concrete. Per capita production of structural concrete in the world is around one ton per person per year.

RK Concrete Cracked Concrete

What is Limestone?

Most grains in limestone are skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera. These organisms secrete shells made of aragonite or calcite, and leave these shells behind when they die. They form a deposit of rock that is limestone.

None of these interesting facts need concern you though. In the Salt Lake or Utah Valley there is a concrete contractor who uses ONLY the best quality “mud,” Ryan Kartchner Concrete will handle all of your concrete needs. Call him today for a bid!

For information on maintenance and repair read "Springtime Maintenance Sealing and Repair."

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