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The people involved in the cement or concrete industries, whether an architect, engineer, contractor, worker, material supplier or other person, need to understand the terminology used. Moxie presents this clear and informative glossary to cover important terms, especially those which are most often used or misunderstood.

We offer a Tutorial on Concrete for further discussion.

You may also be interested in the Article on Vapor Barriers on this site.


 Glossary Index

Select the letter of a term you would like defined. You may select any letter section of the glossary from any glossary page.


 Glossary A-B
  • AAC - Autoclaved Aerated Concrete - Exceptionally lightweight precast concrete with high thermal qualities and fire resistance. Suitable for cutting with ordinary hand tools. Mix design is composed of portland cement, sand or siliceous material, lime, gypsum, finely powdered aluminum, and water. The initial mix is a combination of portland cement, sand, lime and gypsum as a slurry. Finely powdered aluminum (mixed into a paste) is added prior to placement into large, rail-like forms. The finely powdered aluminum reacts with the alkaline components of the cement and lime to produce hydrogen gas. This increases the volume approximately five times, producing a uniformly dispersed cellular structure. Units are cut to required shape, placed in an autoclave (an enclosed pressurized chamber) and steam cured at 350o. About 80% of the ultimate volume consists of air voids.
  • Abrasion Resistance - Resistance of a surface to being worn away by friction or rubbing process.
  • Absolute Volume - The volume of an ingredient in its solid state, without voids between individual pieces or particles. In the case of fluids, the cubic content occupied. In concrete, the actual volume occupied by the different ingredients determined by dividing the weight of each ingredient (in pounds) by its specific gravity multiplied by the weight of one cubic foot of water (in pounds). For example, the Absolute Volume of one sack of cement = 94 divided by (3.15 x 62.4) = 0.478 cubic feet.
  • Absorbed Moisture - Moisture which is mechanically held in a material. In aggregates, that water which is not available to become part of the mixing water is designated "absorbed" water.
  • Absorption - The process by which water is absorbed -- or the amount of water absorbed under specific conditions, usually expressed as percentage of the dry weight of the material.
  • Accelerator - An admixture which, when added to concrete, mortar, or grout, increases the rate of hydration of the hydraulic cement, shortens the time of set and increases the rate of hardening or strength development.
  • Adiabatic Curing - The maintenance of ambient conditions during the setting and hardening of concrete so that heat is neither lost nor gained from the surroundings of the concrete.
  • Admixture - A material other than water, aggregates, and portland cement that is used as an ingredient of concrete, and is added to the batch immediately before or during the mixing operation.
  • Adsorption Water - Water held on surfaces in a material by either physical and/or chemical forces.
  • Air Content - The amount of entrained or entrapped air in concrete or mortar, exclusive of pore space in aggregate particles, usually expressed as a percentage of total volume of concrete or mortar.
  • Air Entraining Agent - An addition for hydraulic cement, or an admixture for concrete or mortar which entrains air in the form of minute bubbles in the concrete or mortar during mixing.
  • Alkali-Aggregate Reaction - Older terminology for Alkali-Silica Reactivity (ASR).
  • ASR - Alkali-Silica Reactivity - The reaction of aggregates, which contain some form of silica or carbonates with sodium oxides or potassium oxides in cement, particularly in warm, moist climates or environments, causing expansion, cracking or popouts in concrete.
  • Aluminous Cement - A hydraulic cement in which the principal constituents are calcium aluminates, instead of calcium silicates which comprise the major ingredients of portland cement. (See Calcium Aluminate Cement)
  • Autoclave - A chamber in which an environment of steam and high pressure is produced. Used in curing of concrete products and in the testing of hydraulic cement for soundness.
  • Bag (of cement) - See Sack.
  • Barrel (of cement) - A unit of weight for cement: 376 lbs net, equivalent to 4 US bags of portland cement. The designation presently used is tons of cement.
  • Blaine Fineness - The fineness of granular materials such as cement and pozzolan, expressed as total surface area in square centimeters per gram, determined by the Blaine air-permeability apparatus and procedure.
  • Blast Furnace Slag - A non-metallic waste product developed in the manufacture of pig iron, consisting basically of a mixture of lime, silica and alumina, the same oxides that make up portland cement, but not in the same proportions or forms. It is used both in the manufacture of portland blast furnace slag cement and as an aggregate for lightweight concrete.
  • Bleeding, Bleed Water - A form of segregation in which some of the water in a mix tends to rise to the surface of freshly placed concrete. Known also as water gain.
  • Bond - Adhesion of concrete or mortar to reinforcement, or to other surfaces.
  • Bush-hammer - A tool having a serrated face, as rows of pyramidal points, used to develop an architectural finish for concrete surfaces.


Contributions: Kaiser Cement, Portland Cement Association, Concrete Manual, Bureau of Reclamation, U. S. Department of the Interior and many other publications, with special thanks to Bob Cameron of W. R. Meadows. © 2008 Moxie International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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