Photo Essay

concrete and sandstone

black is grey

The physical properties of density and strength of concrete are determined, in part, by the proportions of the three key ingredients, water, cement, and aggregate. You have your choice of proportioning ingredients by volume or by weight. Proportioning by volume is less accurate, however due to the time constraints of a class time period this may be the preferred method.

A basic mixture of mortar can be made using the volume proportions of 1 water : 2 cement : 3 sand. Most of the student activities can be conducted using this basic mixture. Another "old rule of thumb" for mixing concrete is 1 cement : 2 sand : 3 gravel by volume. Mix the dry ingredients and slowly add water until the concrete is workable. This mixture may need to be modified depending on the aggregate used to provide a concrete of the right workability. The mix should not be too stiff or too sloppy. It is difficult to form good test specimens if it is too stiff. If it is too sloppy, water may separate (bleed) from the mixture.

Remember that water is the key ingredient. Too much water results in weak concrete. Too little water results in a concrete that is unworkable.

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