Are you taking on a building project of your own and wondering about what materials to use? Have you worked out the difference between concrete and cement yet? If not, then you need to know their individual properties before you start to plan.
One question many people ask is which material is the strongest. Below, we settle the debate on if cement is stronger than concrete.
What Is the Difference?
Cement and concrete are actually terms used interchangeably. However, there are a number of differences. The primary one is that cement is actually an ingredient within the concrete itself.
Concrete is a mixture, comprising either gravel, sand or a crushed stone. This is mixed with water and cement, which binds it together. In a concrete mixture, cement should comprise around 10 to 15 per cent of the overall mass.
As it dries out, it forms a hard layer. The longer it is left, the more it dries, and the stronger it becomes. You can read more here about the many differences.
What Is Cement?
Cement, the ingredient in concrete, has quite a process to get to where it is. Its make up is materials such as clay, limestone, iron ore, silica and shale. This gets heated to very high temperatures then ground down to bar form, to create a powdered cement.
This is then sent off and mixed with aggregate to form concrete. It is then laid and left to dry.
Is Pure Cement Stronger Than Concrete?
Pure cement is the term given to cement that has not mixed with gravel, sand or stone. In powdered form, it comes in large grey bags. When added to water, it will turn into a viscous, grey mixture that becomes harder to mix the more you turn it.
Cement is simply the binding ingredient in concrete. This means that without the addition of aggregate and water, it is fairly useless as a building material. It does not retain strength and is not as strong as concrete.
Pure cement will actually shrink if used on its own. Without the other aggregate ingredients, it lacks compressive strength. As the water dries from it, it will attempt to revert back to a powdered form, cracking and flaking.
What’s Stronger Than Concrete?
Cement is actually the most expensive ingredient in concrete, so using pure cement really does not make sense. When you consider that concrete can be made stronger by adjusting the ratios with which it is made, then a little cement can make a very strong substance. All you need to do is add less water and cement to the aggregate.
The drawback to this is that less water makes the mix more difficult to compact, so a balance has to be reached. One way to make concrete stronger is to place it in a reinforced steel structure. This also makes it harder to compact if it has less water in its make up.
In summary, cement is not stronger than concrete, as it is simply the binding ingredient. If you are using it for a building project, then consult a professional or aggregate supplier. They will know the best mix and ratio for your project and may be able to give advice.
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