What is Concrete Made From?

Quck answer

Concrete is a versatile construction material made from a mixture of cement, aggregates, and water. Cement is the binding agent that holds the mixture together. Aggregates, such as sand and gravel, provide strength and stability to the concrete. Water is added to the mixture to activate the cement and allow it to harden. Other materials, such as admixtures or additives, may be added to improve certain properties of the concrete, such as workability or durability. Overall, concrete is a durable and cost-effective material that is widely used in the construction industry for various applications, including buildings, roads, and bridges.

It is one of the most widely used construction materials globally. It has fire resistance and can withstand moisture. It becomes stronger over time and is utilized in the construction of roads, bridges, and tunnels! What is today’s Wonder of the Day? Concrete, of course!

Concrete is present everywhere. Look around you. Do you observe any concrete? If you are in a school, it is probable that the floor or even the walls are composed of concrete. At home, it most likely forms the foundation of the building. Take a peek outside and you might see concrete in sidewalks and roads.

Despite its frequent occurrence, many individuals have limited knowledge about concrete. What is it composed of? How durable is it? How long does it last? What distinguishes concrete from cement? We have numerous inquiries!

Many people mistakenly believe that concrete and cement are the same, but that is incorrect. Cement is actually an ingredient used to produce concrete. Cement is made from limestone and clay. It is the paste that binds with the other ingredients to hold the concrete together.

To create concrete, you require air, water, cement, and aggregates. Concrete incorporates fine aggregates, such as sand, and coarse aggregates, such as rocks. Manufacturers mix these ingredients together in precise proportions to produce one of the most robust construction materials worldwide.

The concrete we are familiar with today has only been in existence for approximately 200 years. This is when Portland cement, the type of cement utilized in today’s concrete, was first developed. However, ancient civilizations used various forms of concrete thousands of years ago.

The earliest recorded use of concrete dates back to 6500 B.C.E in Syria and Jordan. Subsequently, people in China and Egypt employed different types of concrete to construct structures around 3000 B.C.E. Ancient Romans also utilized concrete in construction starting in 600 B.C.E. Concrete has been in use and evolving for a considerable period of time!

What makes concrete so popular? Firstly, it is incredibly strong. Each square inch of modern concrete can withstand 3,000 pounds of pressure. It is no surprise that it is the preferred material for building bridges and tunnels. Often, concrete continues to gain strength for years after it is poured. This is due to the reaction between water and cement as the concrete dries.

Concrete is also highly cost-effective, considering its strength. In the United States, each cubic yard costs around $110. This affordability also contributes to the widespread use of concrete. From constructing roads to erecting skyscrapers, concrete’s strength and affordability make it a favored choice.

Can you think of any other uses for concrete? Have you ever seen a concrete statue? How about a concrete fountain? When you think about it, you may realize that this exceptionally durable material is even more prevalent than you thought!

Try It Out

Find an adult friend or family member who can assist you in continuing your learning through the activities below!

Concrete Activities

1. Explore your neighborhood

Take a stroll around your community accompanied by a friend or family member. Bring along a notepad and a pencil. Take note of every object you come across that is made of concrete. Pay close attention to ensure that you don’t miss anything! Afterward, discuss with your companion why there are so many things made of concrete.

2. Get creative with concrete

Utilize concrete to craft stepping stones or a unique lightbulb. Remember to seek assistance from an adult and review the supply list beforehand to ensure you have all the necessary materials. Once you finish your project, proudly showcase it to your friends and family!

3. Explore remarkable concrete structures

Take a look at these impressive concrete structures. Have you encountered any of them in person? Which one would you most like to visit? Why? Write a letter or email to a friend or family member, explaining what you find fascinating about at least one of these structures.

Wonder Sources


1. What is concrete made from?

Concrete is made from a mixture of cement, water, aggregates (such as sand and gravel), and sometimes additives or admixtures. Cement, which is the key ingredient, is made from limestone and clay that are heated at high temperatures to form a powder. When water is added to the cement powder, it undergoes a chemical reaction called hydration, which causes it to harden and bind the aggregates together.

2. How is cement produced?

Cement is produced by grinding a mixture of limestone and clay into a fine powder and then heating it in a kiln at temperatures of up to 1450 degrees Celsius. This process, known as calcination, causes the limestone and clay to chemically react and form new compounds, known as clinker. The clinker is then ground into a fine powder, which is the cement that is used in the production of concrete.

3. What are the different types of aggregates used in concrete?

There are two main types of aggregates used in concrete: fine aggregates and coarse aggregates. Fine aggregates, such as sand, are small particles that fill the gaps between the larger particles of coarse aggregates, such as gravel or crushed stone. The combination of fine and coarse aggregates provides the structural strength and durability to the concrete.

4. What are additives or admixtures in concrete?

Additives or admixtures are substances that are added to the concrete mixture to improve its properties or performance. Some common additives include plasticizers, which increase the workability of the concrete, and accelerators or retarders, which speed up or slow down the setting time of the concrete. Admixtures can also be used to enhance the strength, durability, or resistance to chemicals or weathering of the concrete.

5. How is concrete mixed?

Concrete can be mixed manually or using a machine called a concrete mixer. In manual mixing, the cement, aggregates, and water are mixed together using shovels or hoes until a uniform consistency is achieved. In machine mixing, the ingredients are placed in the concrete mixer, which rotates to mix them thoroughly. The mixing process ensures that the cement, aggregates, and water are evenly distributed, resulting in a homogeneous mixture.

6. What are the properties of concrete?

Concrete has several desirable properties that make it a popular construction material. It is strong, durable, and resistant to fire, water, and weathering. It can be molded into various shapes and sizes, allowing for versatile applications. Concrete also has good thermal and acoustic insulation properties, making it suitable for buildings. Additionally, it has a long lifespan and requires minimal maintenance, making it a cost-effective choice for construction projects.

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