What is the Difference Between Cement and Concrete

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Phil Puccio

What is the difference between cement and concrete?

Cement versus concreteUnderstand the difference between cement and concrete

First, what is cement?

Cement is a dry powder used as a binder, one of the four main ingredients used to make concrete.

Mixing Portland cement with water forms a paste that hardens and binds, or “sticks”, whatever it mixes together.

Understandable are the terms “Concrete and cement” are often used interchangeably, but they are certainly not the same!

Cement is a mixture of materials such as limestone, silica, slate, clay, slate, and iron ore.

After being extracted from the ground, they are heated to extremely high temperatures in a rotary kiln.

The furnace looks like a large rotating pipe about 10-15 feet in diameter and about 300 feet long.

One end of the furnace is raised, this is where the raw materials are placed. As the furnace rotates, the materials slowly move to the bottom.

Ejected flames at the lower end heat all materials to temperatures between 2,700 and 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

When exposed to these extremely high temperatures, the materials form marble-sized spheres known as “clinker”.

The clinker is ground very finely into a powder called Portland cement.

After grinding into the fine powder, the cement is mixed with small amounts of limestone and plaster of paris.

This mixture is the cement that is transported to ready-mixed concrete plants and used to make concrete.

How is cement made?

How does the cement harden?

As soon as the two materials are mixed together, a chemical reaction takes place, the “Warmth”.

The chemical reaction is called the HEAT OF HYDRATION. As hydration takes place, the paste hardens over time and gains strength by binding everything it is mixed with.

what is concretely?

Next to water, concrete is the most consumed material in the world. No, we don’t eat it, it is used as a building material.

It is the most widely used building material in the world!

Are you doing CONCRETE by using four basic ingredients with CEMENT be one of four. The others are sand, aggregates, and water.

Combine all four ingredients in the correct proportions and you get concrete.

Mixing the water, cement, and sand makes a fairly strong paste. Then the aggregates are mixed with the paste, which makes the mixture even stronger.

Strength is determined by the ratio of cement to sand to stone and how much water is used to mix everything together.

A Base concrete mix combines 1 part cement to 2 parts sand to 3 parts stone, then mixed with as little water as necessary to make a workable concrete mix.

A dry but workable mix is ​​stronger than a wet, liquid mix.

Properties of good concrete

Cement versus concrete

Good quality concrete has some specific properties that you should understand:

  1. Strong – when cured, it has a high compressive strength
  2. Durable – withstands freezing and thawing temperatures as well as very hot weather
  3. Workable – when placed, it’s not too wet or too dry. Its ingredients are properly dosed and mixed so that it solidifies when poured.
  4. Low shrinkage – Don’t use too much water to mix and pour the concrete

In general, using the least amount of water required to mix and pour the concrete results in a higher quality concrete. This assumes that the concrete is properly placed, solidified, finished and hardened.

What is a good concrete mix design?

There are different concrete mix designs for different types of projects. All can be considered good if the end result turns out as planned.

A mix plan for a highway bridge is different from a mix plan for a garage floor. Both are good, they just have different proportions of the ingredients (and maybe contain some other additives).

Basically, a good mix design includes:

  • Good workability
  • Good strength
  • Very durable
  • Pretty tight
  • Good workability

The concrete mix ratios can be adjusted depending on the purpose of the concrete.

A simple but good concrete mix design is 1 part cement to 2 parts sand to 3 parts stone mixed with as little water as necessary to get the workable mix you need.

See my Concrete mix ratios for 3000 and 4000 psi concrete mix designs.

should i use concrete or cement?

Concrete is best for most construction projects. It is used for building house foundations and floors, concrete paths, patios and pool decks.

Concrete is used to build roads, bridges, and driveways. But it’s also used for making concrete statues, concrete countertops, and even concrete canoes.

Cement alone isn’t nearly as strong as concrete and is more likely to crack or break if just mixed with water and used to build or repair something.

There are some concrete repair materials that have cement in their mix. They look and feel like cement (powdered) but have different ingredients that make them strong and durable.

Cement can be used to touch up small damaged concrete surfaces, to touch up mortar in a brick wall, or as a grout to fill small holes.

But honestly, you are better off just using it to make concrete.

Is cement stronger than concrete?

No, cement is no stronger than concrete. The aggregates (stone) and sand make concrete strong.

When mixed with water, cement forms a paste that hardens. It’s called a mortar, but it’s not very strong on its own.

Sometimes sand is mixed with cement and water to make a stronger mortar mix, but it’s still no stronger than concrete.

What makes concrete so strong?

It is the carefully designed portions of each ingredient that make the concrete of different thicknesses.

In its simplest form, concrete consists of around 15% cement, 70% sand and stone, and 15% water.

It is the proportions of these ingredients, when all mixed together, that make the concrete strong.

The quality and strength of the paste is determined by how much water is mixed with it.

This is known as the “water to cement ratio”. The higher the wcr, the lower the concrete strength. The lower the wcr, the stronger the concrete mix.

You want the concrete to be workable so that it can be properly consolidated and placed. But not too wet or soupy, which would result in poor quality concrete.

There are different types of cement

Did you know that there are different types of cement?

Here you are:

  • TYPE I – A general purpose cement that can be used for most applications
  • TYPE II – Moderate sulfate resistance
  • TYPE III – high early strength
  • TYPE IV – low heat of hydration, slower response
  • TYPE V – High sulphate resistance, develops more slowly than other types

What is the difference between cement and concrete?

The sachet of Portland cement is a dry “fluffy” powder that you can MAKE concrete with. Just add sand, stone, and water.

The concrete sack already contains cement, sand and stones, all of which are mixed together “in the sack”. All you have to do is add water and mix it to get concrete.

If you’re making patio blocks, pouring a small slab, or installing a fence post, get the bag of concrete for these types of projects.

Rarely, if ever, will you use cement for anything other than making your own concrete from mixing the raw materials (cement, sand, stone, and water).


Find out my concrete mix ratio for strong concrete.

Discover how old concrete really is.

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