Cement vs. Concrete

How is concrete different from cement?

Concrete and cement are two products that are commonly used in construction. Although most people know that they look different they are not able to actually tell you how they are different from one another. Many times the two words are used as if they are the same thing because they are used for similar purposes, but they are two different products.

About cement

Cement is a man-made material that has many applications in the construction industry in all parts of the world. It is the glue that holds buildings together, especially large buildings that have many stories. The most popular type of cement is called Portland cement. This was discovered in the 18th century by Joseph Aspdin, who added clay to limestone and then heated the mixture.

The cement we use today is made up of small portions of limestone, gypsum, calcium, silicon, iron, aluminum and other ingredients. They are then heated to a temperature of about 2700 degrees F. The product that results is known as clinkers. These are ground and gypsum is added. This results in a grey powder that we know as cement. When you add water to this powder, it soaks up the water and becomes cement when it hardens. It can harden quite fast – often in a few hours.

About concrete

It is a very surprising fact that next to water, concrete is the most consumed product in the world. If you average out the amount of it that is used per year you could say that each person uses three tons of concrete a year. This is not so, but it is just to illustrate how much of it is used every year. For those who think that concrete and cement are the same, the fact is that cement is used to make concrete.

Concrete is formed by mixing cement, water and both fine and coarse materials such as sand and gravel. This makes concrete much stronger than cement. This is why it is used as the foundation for homes and buildings as well as interior and exterior walls and floors. It is the most used man made material in the world.

Both cement and concrete are important building materials that are used to hold bricks, rocks, stones and other materials together to form a structure.

Summary

  1. Concrete contains cement but is does not have a high tensile strength. It is unable to withstand earthquakes or the high winds of a hurricane. When concrete is used in buildings, it must be reinforced with steel girders.
  2. Concrete takes a lot longer to harden. The time depends on the amount of gypsum that is added to the mixture.