Concrete and cement are two very important materials in the construction industry. Unfortunately, many people still think they’re the same thing.
Concrete vs Cement
Even though the 2 terms are commonly used synonymously, cement and concrete are actually very different materials.
Cement is a very fine material that is a component of both concrete and mortar that is never used alone. Meanwhile, concrete is an extremely strong reliable building material composed of cement, sand, and gravel.
This mixture is useless on its own. Before it’s ready to be used in construction projects, the cement must be mixed with water and an aggregate, such as sand, to form a moldable paste. This substance is known as concrete. It fills whatever mold it’s poured into and quickly hardens into a solid, rock-like form, which is partly why it’s become the most widely-used building material on Earth.
So whether you’re etching your initials into a wet sidewalk concrete slab, power-hosing your back patio, or admiring some Brutalist architecture, you’re dealing with concrete. But if you ever happen to be handling a chalky gray powder that hasn’t been mixed with water, cement is the correct label to use.
Cement is a building element in both concrete and mortar. It is most commonly known to consist of, limestone, clay, shells, quartz, and sand. These ingredients are crumbled and mixed with other elements (including iron ore), then heated to about 1500 C.
The resulting clinker material is then ground into a fine powder. Cement can also be called Portland cement as it was first created in England in 1800. Portland cement is the most common type of cement today, it is a type of “hydraulic cement” that hardens in combination with water.
Concrete is used all over the world in construction. It consists of cement, sand, and crushed stone, or other fine, coarse aggregate. Cement is activated when water is added to it. You can buy ready-made mixtures of cement where all you have to do is add water. Such ready-made mixtures of cement are suitable for small technical tasks. For large projects, you can buy cement packets and mix them with sand and gravel on your own.