You’ve probably heard of it. You might even have worked with it. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have questions. For many people, Portland cement remains a bit of a mystery. If you’ve ever wondered exactly what the substance is, you’re in luck! General Chipping can explain.
Despite the product’s city-specific name, Portland cement is extremely versatile, and the most commonly-used cement today. Cement.org credits the product’s invention to Joseph Aspdin, a bricklayer who, in the 19th century, first created Portland cement by burning powdered limestone and clay inside his kitchen.
Most Portland cement is created using a dry method, which Cement.org describes in simple terms:
- Workers quarry ingredients such as limestone and clay
- The quarried materials are crushed, then crushed again until they measure 3 inches or smaller
- Workers combine the crushed material with things such as iron ore and fly ash
- The mixture is heated to approximately 2,700 degrees inside a cement kiln
- Gasses burn off inside the kiln, leaving behind a substance called clinker
- Clinker emerges from the kiln as marble-sized gray balls
- Once cooled, workers grind the clinker and mix it with gypsum and limestone
- The finished product is ready to distribute
Although it begins as a powdery substance, Portland cement forms a sticky paste when combined with water. Thanks in large part to its low-cost ingredients, the product is a strong, cost-effective material perfect for a wide range of projects, from sidewalks, to grout and even stucco.
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