? What is cement and how is it made?

Cement

bags of cement
Cement is a fine, soft, powdery-type substance. It is made from a mixture of elements that are found in natural materials such as limestone, clay, sand and/or shale. When cement is mixed with water, it can bind sand and gravel into a hard, solid mass called concrete.

Cement can be purchased from most building supply stores in bags

Related topics: [What is concrete] [Reinforcing in concrete] [Making a concrete slab]

Did you know? Four essential elements are needed to make cement. They are Calcium, Silicon, Aluminum and Iron.
Calcium (which is the main ingredient) can be obtained from limestone, whereas silicon can be obtained from sand and/or clay. Aluminum and iron can be extracted from bauxite and iron ore, and only small amounts are needed.

Cement is usually gray. White cement can also be found but it is usually more expensive than gray cement.

Cement mixed with water, sand and gravel, forms concrete.

Cement mixed with water and sand, forms cement plaster.

Cement mixed with water, lime and sand, forms mortar.

Cement powder is very, very fine. One kilo (2.2 lbs) contains over 300 billion grains, although we haven’t actually counted them to see if that is completely accurate! The powder is so fine it will pass through a sieve capable of holding water.

Tip: Cement should be stored in a dry area. If it gets wet or damp the powder will turn into a hard lump.

An example of how cement can be made

A limestone quarry for making cement
1.) Limestone is taken from a quarry. It is the major ingredient needed for making cement. Smaller quantities of sand and clay are also needed. Limestone, sand and clay contain the four essential elements required to make cement. The four essential elements are calcium, silicon, aluminum and iron.

raw materials being crushed to make cement
2.) Boulder-size limestone rocks are transported from the quarry to the cement plant and fed into a crusher which crushes the boulders into marble-size pieces.

raw materials for cement being mixed
3.) The limestone pieces then go through a blender where they are added to the other raw materials in the right proportion.

materials being ground to make cement
4.) The raw materials are ground to a powder. This is sometimes done with rollers that crush the materials against a rotating platform.

raw materials going into a furnace to make cement
5.) Everything then goes into a huge, extremely hot, rotating furnace to undergo a process called “sintering”. Sintering means: to cause to become a coherent mass by heating without melting. In other words, the raw materials become sort of partially molten. The raw materials reach about 2700° F (1480°C) inside the furnace. This causes chemical and physical changes to the raw materials and they come out of the furnace as large, glassy, red-hot cinders called “clinker”.

clinker being ground to make cement
6.) The clinker is cooled and ground into a fine gray powder. A small amount of gypsum is also added during the final grinding. It is now the finished product – Portland cement.

The cement is then stored in silos (large holding tanks) where it awaits distribution.

The cement is usually shipped in bulk in purpose-made trucks, by rail or even by barge or ship. Some is bagged for those who want small quantities.

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Buildeazy.com started as a hobby for Les Kenny over eight years ago when he decided he would share his successful DIY projects with the wider world, putting them up online for anyone to access.

12 Comments
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  1. thank you,I found the information beneficial, hope it will help me in future.

  2. Reply
    ENGINEER ABDULLAHI HARUNA ABDULLAHI(last born) October 6, 2017 at 9:56 am

    thanks i apreciate this information and i hope it will be usefull to me as young civil engineer to be

  3. Thanks for garding me in my cuase of study.

  4. Good page

  5. Thanks very much for sharing this with us. It has helped those of us who had no idea about how this was made.

  6. Very useful and educational exposé thank you very much

  7. what if i mix lime (bought in a bag from the store)
    with sand and water?? Will it harden into a solid mass??
    But will exposure to water cause the solid mass to melt, dissolve over time ??!!

  8. thanks you for tell those of use who didn’t know how cement was made

  9. dear brain dead morons. cement is a mix of portland cement and sand without gravel. lime can be added to make mortar, stucco, or a stronger mix of cement. ratio for cement can be 1 sand 1 amount portland cement. sometimes 2 to 1 3 to 2 depends on project. If you are without knowledge of what Cement is YOU SHOULD NOT PRETEND YOU DO>this page should be removed.END.

    • seti alpha Why the uninformed outburst ?
      Cement is cement, water, sand, lime and aggregate are added to produce plaster , mortar, concrete etc ! Keep yourself civil mate , people are asking legitimate questions, which doesn’t make them morons

  10. dear seti alpha

    you need help to solve your anger and intollerance. I suppose john setka taught you how to bash your wife.

  11. Wow, I never knew before that limestone is a common component of cement. I’m planning to find a ready mix cement supplier soon because I’m currently making my own rock garden at home. having some round cement plats to serve as a walkway will make it easier to navigate the area without having to deal with the uneven gravel.

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