Date: May 30, 2012
Concrete or Cement—What’s the Difference?
The first day on the job at Chaney Enterprises is exciting—and eye-opening—the moment employees new to our industry walk in the door. You see, just like so very, very many people, new Chaney Team members think “cement” and “concrete” are the same thing. Gosh, how many times did you hear somebody point and say, “Hey! Look at that big cement mixer,” or “my dog ran across the cement and left those footprints.” You get the picture.
But after the very first “cement” for concrete reference, new folks are quickly—yet kindly—corrected. Yep. That big truck you see with the drum going around and around that passes by: that’s a concrete mixer, not a cement mixer. That sidewalk with the dog prints? It’s made of concrete. So, what’s the big deal? Quite a lot!
First, let’s get an idea about how concrete is made. Just for the sake of simplicity, mixing concrete is something like making pancakes or muffins—say, blueberry muffins. To make a batter you need dry ingredients, wet ingredients and something to hold the batter together. Well, that’s how a concrete mix is put together. The primary key ingredients for concrete are: course and fine aggregates—sand and gravel, for example; water, air and a binding agent, cement. Think like the egg and oil that make a batter sticky.
Yes— cement is an ingredient needed to make concrete. Cement comes from quarry-mined rock with limestone, cement rock, clay and other materials that are processed and super-heated to a fine powder at a cement plant. This powder product is called Portland Cement. Once processed, the cement is placed in a special tanker truck and shipped to concrete and block making plants.
So let’s go back to the first day on a tour of our plant. Our new employees, now with the new knowledge about our products, watch with wonder as concrete was mixed and poured into the mixer trucks, the drums turning rapidly to get the mix right and ready to deliver. Across the road is a tanker truck, unloading a new shipment of cement from Western Maryland. Once seeing for themselves, it is crystal-clear the difference. It’s an “ah-ha” moment.
It’s fun to be the one to "educate" a new-comer to our Chaney team, and share someone’s "I didn’t know that" look you get. Let’s just keep hoping Jeopardy can get the difference right, too, sooner than later.