Tried and True Methods to Determine the Quality of Cement
Concrete is the material used to form the base of most building projects. Concrete is a widely used material because of its strength, durability, and resistance to weather and other environmental factors. Quality concrete can ensure that the base of a building project is going to last for years and years to come. Cement is one of the key ingredients in making concrete. Without high-quality cement, the concrete is not going to be as strong and durable over time. There are many ways for producers of cement, builders, and suppliers to test the quality of cement before it is sold or used in any project.
One of the more technologically advanced methods used for testing is an online cement analyzer. The analyzer is typically set up to continuously monitor the composition of the material being sent along a conveyor belt. An advantage of using this tool is that the information can be seen in real time to provide immediate and useful feedback. One placement of an analyzer within a production plant could be between where the raw material is being crushed, and the pre-blending stockpile.
The analyzer can determine if there is any material passing along the belt that shouldn’t be included in the cement mixture. That information can be used immediately to remove any unwanted materials. The analyzer could also be used to monitor the chemistry of the material being prepared for mixing. Keeping the chemistry consistent can save time and money down the road because the mixture won’t need as many additives.
Age, Color and Consistency
In addition to the technological tools that can be used, there are also some very practical and hands-on methods for determining the quality of cement. The first thing that can be easily checked is the age of the cement. The strength of cement will decrease over time, and there should be a manufacturing date on each bag. As a general rule, cement should be used within ninety days of manufacturing for the material to be at its strongest.
At six months old, the cement can lose as much as thirty percent of its strength, and at twelve months old it can lose up to fifty percent of its strength. Another factor to consider is the color of the cement. The highest quality material should have the same color throughout each bag, and that color should be gray with some hints of green. The consistency of the cement is another checkpoint. There should not be any lumps present in the cement as that is a sign of moisture being absorbed.
Float, Set and Strength
If a load of cement passes the first few tests, there are a few more than can be done to ensure the material is of a high quality. The float test involves putting an amount of cement into some water. The cement should float for a while before any of it starts to sink down into the water. Testing how well the cement will set is another good test to run. A paste of cement and water can be made and then submerged into water for a day or so. If the paste doesn’t develop any cracks, that is a good sign. A final test can be to make a block of cement and submerge the entire block in water for about a week. After the week, weight can be placed on the block to see how it holds up.
Cement is one of the main ingredients in concrete, and concrete is the most widely used material in forming the base of building projects. The safety and well being of all people that will use a building in the future starts with a solid foundation or base. There are some simple, effective and timely methods for testing the quality of cement to ensure that only the best materials are produced and used in all building projects.