The Basic Mix:
A general guide for concrete preparation
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.
What is aggregate?
“Aggregate“, is a broad category of coarse particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates. Aggregates are the most mined material in the world. Aggregates are a component of composite materials such as concrete and asphalt concrete.
What is cement?
Cement is made by heating limestone (calcium carbonate) with small quantities of other materials (such as clay) to 1450 °C in a kiln, in a process known as calcination, whereby a molecule of carbon dioxide is liberated from the calcium carbonate to form calcium oxide, or quicklime, which is then blended with the other materials that have been included in the mix. The resulting hard substance, called ‘clinker’, is then ground with a small amount of gypsum into a powder to make ‘Ordinary Portland Cement’, the most commonly used type of cement (often referred to as OPC).
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.
Adding colour to concrete
With thanks to Illioinois education and Wikipedia for this information.