What’s the Difference Between Cement and Concrete?

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Most people don’t realize that there’s a difference between cement and concrete. While they are both used in construction, each has its own unique property. If you are someone who just don’t know much about construction and the materials used, then don’t worry, we have you covered. Today, you will learn the difference and the uses of cement and concrete.

What is cement?

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Cement is the basic ingredient of concrete. It was commonly manufactured through a closely controlled chemical combination of calcium, silicon, aluminum, iron and other ingredients. Today, however, manufacturers use different ingredients and processes to create the fine powder that we commonly know of as cement. Early in the 19th century, Joseph Aspdin of Leeds, England, a bricklayer, invented Portland cement by heating powdered limestone and clay in his kitchen stove.

What is concrete?

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In short, concrete is a mixture of aggregates and paste. The aggregates are sand and gravel or crushed stone; the paste is water and Portland cement. When mixed, the Portland cement binds with sand and rock to solidify and create a permanent structure. The earliest recordings of concrete structures date back to 6500BC and in 3000 BC, Egyptians used mud mixed with straw to bind dried bricks.

In 600 BC, the Ancient Romans started to utilize the advantages of the material. By 200 BC, the Romans successfully implemented the use of concrete in the majority of their construction. They used a mixture of volcanic ash, lime, and seawater to form the mix. Even today, there are some Roman structures that are still standing due to their ingredients colliding with Earth’s natural chemistry.

In the 19th Century, concrete was used mainly for industrial buildings. Between 1850 and 1880, England and France started using Portland cement in home construction and steel rods were added to prevent exterior walls from spreading. After water, concrete is the second-most consumed material in the world with over four billion tons of it produced in 2017. Today, more than 30 billion tons of concrete is used each year, 3 times as much as 40 years ago, and the demand for concrete just keeps rising.

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