The terms “cement” and “concrete” are often used interchangeably. However, there are several core differences to cement vs. concrete, and they may surprise you.
””Cement is a component of concrete, and it is made up of a closely controlled combination of calcium, silicon, iron, and aluminum. Cement is the main ingredient in concrete, and when cement is mixed with water, sand, and rock—concrete is formed.
How Cement Is Made
The most popular way to make cement is what is called a “dry method.” The raw materials of limestone and clay are harvested from a quarry. The enormous slabs of limestone and clay are then crushed in a multi-stage process until the particles are roughly three inches in diameter or smaller.
The next step in the process involves adding iron ore or fly ash to the crushed limestone and clay which is ground and fed into a cement kiln. The mixture is processed in the kiln using constant movement and high heat, and the end product is called clinker. Clinker are the small, marble-sized balls of the mixed rock, ore, and ash.
Once cooled, the clinker is ground down to a fine powder and mixed with a little bit of limestone and gypsum. This final mixture is cement that is packed up and shipped out for use in making concrete all over the country. The cement is now ready to be used in the batching process as the main ingredient in concrete.
Cement can also be used by itself as a binding compound. It is most commonly used as mortar for brick walls. Cement’s binding propeties are used in concrete to hold together the sand, gravel, and water that comprise it.
How Concrete Is Made
With cement, it is possible to make concrete for any construction project. Concrete is made up of cement, water, and aggregates or rocks. When concrete is wet, it is highly malleable and can be formed in a number of ways. Once the concrete hardens, it is a durable foundation on which entire structures can be built.
The key to creating strong concrete is in the proportioning of these ingredients. The mixture must have enough paste (mixed cement and water) to fill in the spaces between the aggregates, otherwise the concrete will be rough and difficult to spread. If too much water is used, the final concrete will be smooth but the concrete will crack easily.
Through the process of hydration—when water mixes with the cement—the paste begins to harden and get stronger. As the mixture dries, the concrete becomes less malleable and hardens into its final shape. Once the mixture is completely dry, a strong, sturdy concrete is formed.
The cement vs. concrete debate is a circular one since you need cement to create concrete. However, understanding the differences could save you from making a costly mistake. Your concrete provider should be able to advise you as to which medium is what you really need for your next construction project.
If you need a quality concrete supplier in Arkansas, contact Razorback Concrete at 870-455-0700. We supply ready-mix concrete for construction projects in Arkansas, South Missouri, and West Tennessee.