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The Complete Guide to Concrete Admixtures

Guide to Concrete Admixtures

Concrete admixtures play a vital role in modern construction, and some admixtures can improve the durability of concrete for longer service life and reduce maintenance costs during use. Some admixtures improve the strength of concrete, making the concrete stronger and of higher quality, which can withstand stronger pressure, thereby reducing external forces, reducing building damage, and reducing risks during use. Some admixtures can improve the use of concrete to better cooperate with other materials. As experts in this field, we are happy to publish a guide to the use of concrete admixtures. 

We’ll showcase the best concrete admixtures that can transform your construction project and improve the quality of your concrete.please continue reading!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The 5 most commonly used concrete admixtures?

Concrete admixtures are compounds or additives added to concrete during the mixing process to enhance its properties and performance. There are several commonly used concrete admixtures that can improve various aspects of concrete. The following are some of the most widely used concrete admixtures:

1. Water reducer

Also known as plasticizers or superplasticizers, water reducers are admixtures that reduce the amount of water needed to achieve the desired consistency of the concrete mix. They improve workability and flowability without compromising strength.

Water reducer is one of the most commonly used concrete admixtures, usually accounting for about 30% to 40% of the amount of concrete admixture used.

2.Accelerators

Accelerators can speed up the setting time of concrete. They are beneficial in cooler temperatures or where a rapid strength increase is required, such as during construction in cold weather conditions. Accelerator is a commonly used concrete admixture, usually accounting for about 10% to 20% of the amount of concrete admixture used.

3.Retarders

These admixtures slow down the setting time of concrete, allowing more workable time in hot weather conditions or when making larger pours. Set retarders are especially useful in preventing premature setting or reducing the risk of cold joints. Therefore, setting retarder is also one of the widely used concrete admixtures, usually accounting for about 10% to 20% of the amount of concrete admixture used.

4.Air-entraining agent

Air-entraining agent is used to create tiny air bubbles in concrete, thereby improving its ability to resist freeze-thaw cycles. These air bubbles provide space for the water to expand as it freezes, reducing the chance of cracking and damage. Air bubbles are used more in some specific cases, usually accounting for about 5% to 10% of the amount of concrete admixture used.

5. Corrosion Inhibitors

These admixtures help protect the rebar within the concrete by reducing or preventing corrosion. They form a protective layer on the surface of steel to extend the life of reinforced concrete structures and typically account for less than 5% of the amount of concrete admixture used.

Chapter 2.Classification of the most commonly used concrete admixtures

1.Types of concrete superplasticizers

Concrete superplasticizer is the most commonly used concrete admixture, and it has many types, also known as superplasticizer or superplasticizer. These additives are used to improve the workability of concrete without sacrificing its strength. 

Here are some common types:

1. Polycarboxylate ether-based (PCE) superplasticizers:

PCE superplasticizers are widely used in the construction industry due to their high water-reducing capacity and excellent dispersing properties. They offer improved flowability and can reduce the water content in concrete mixtures significantly.

It is worth noting that Polycarboxylate ether-based (PCE) superplasticizers are divided into liquid and powder, which can have advantages, which I will focus on in other articles. For details, please refer to 《Polycarboxylate Superplasticizer (Powder)》

2. Sulfonated melamine formaldehyde (SMF) superplasticizers:

SMF superplasticizers are commonly used in precast concrete applications. They provide a moderate level of water reduction and improved workability.

3. Sulfonated naphthalene formaldehyde (SNF) superplasticizers:

SNF superplasticizers have been used for many years and are known for their effective water-reducing properties. They can increase the slump of concrete while maintaining its strength.

4. Protein-based superplasticizers:

These superplasticizers are derived from agricultural by-products such as soybeans or corn. They are less commonly used compared to other types but offer good performance in terms of water reduction and workability improvement.

5. Lignosulfonate-based superplasticizers:

Lignosulfonates are by-products of the wood pulping process and can be used as superplasticizers. They provide moderate water reduction and have good dispersing properties.

2.Types of Concrete Admixture Accelerators

1. Calcium chloride:

Calcium chloride is one of the most commonly used concrete accelerators. It is inexpensive and readily available. It accelerates the hydration process of cement, allowing for faster setting and early strength development. However, it can corrode reinforcing steel if used in excessive amounts.

2. Non-chloride accelerators:

Non-chloride accelerators function similarly to calcium chloride but do not contain chloride ions. These accelerators are often used in situations where the presence of chlorides can cause corrosion, such as in reinforced concrete structures. Non-chloride accelerators are typically based on compounds like calcium nitrate, triethanolamine, or formic acid.

3. Silica fume:

Silica fume, also known as microsilica, is a highly reactive pozzolanic material that can act as an accelerator. It is a by-product of the silicon and ferrosilicon alloy production process. Silica fume reduces the time required for concrete to achieve its desired strength by increasing the rate of cement hydration.

4. Aluminum powder:

Aluminum powder is a powdered metallic substance that reacts with the alkalis in cement to produce hydrogen gas. This gas generates pressure and causes the concrete to expand, resulting in faster setting and hardening. Aluminum powder is commonly used in applications requiring rapid strength development.

5. Rapid-setting cement:

Rapid-setting cement is a type of cement that contains a higher percentage of calcium aluminate and lower amounts of tricalcium silicate compared to ordinary Portland cement. This composition allows for faster setting and strength development. It is often used in emergency repairs or situations where quick turnaround time is crucial.

These are just a few examples of concrete admixture accelerators. The selection of the appropriate accelerator depends on the specific project requirements and conditions, such as temperature, desired setting time, and strength development. Consulting with a professional is recommended to determine the most suitable accelerator for a particular application.

3.Classification of concrete admixture Retarders

Concrete admixture retarders are used to slow down the setting time of concrete and they are often used in hot weather conditions, large construction projects or when more time is required for concrete placement and finishing. Admixture retarders can be divided into different types according to their chemical composition and mode of action.

Here are some common classifications of concrete admixture retarders:

1. Sugar-based retarders:

Sugar-based retarders, such as sucrose or glucose, interfere with the hydration process by providing an alternative carbon source for bacteria or fungi in the mixture. This transfer of carbon slows down the reaction between cement and water, causing a delay in setting time. I have described in detail the function and effect of sodium gluconate as a retarder, please refer to 《What Is Sodium Gluconate?

2. Lignosulfonates:

It Has To Be Said That Lignosulfonates Are Mentioned Again. Lignosulfonates Are Indeed Commonly Used Concrete Admixtures As Water Reducers And Retarders.

Lignosulfonates are derived from wood pulp and are one of the earliest types of concrete retarders. They work by binding to the cement particles, reducing the rate of hydration and slowing down the setting process. Lignosulfonates are cost-effective and widely used in various applications.

3. Organic acids:

Organic acids, like citric acid or tartaric acid, act as retarders by inhibiting the precipitation of calcium carbonate, which is a product of the hydration reaction. By preventing the formation of calcium carbonate crystals, the rate of cement hydration is reduced, leading to extended setting time.

4. Modified lignosulfonates:

Modified lignosulfonates, also known as naphthalene-based retarders, are chemically modified versions of lignosulfonates. They have better performance characteristics and increased effectiveness compared to conventional lignosulfonate retarders.

5. Carboxylic acids:

Carboxylic acids, such as gluconic acid or citric acid, function as retarders by chelating calcium ions in the cement paste. Chelation refers to the formation of stable complexes between the acid molecules and metal ions, which hinders the hydration reaction and slows down the setting process.

6. Inorganic salts:

Inorganic salts, like borax or sodium phosphate, can be used as retarders by interfering with the rate of cement hydration. These salts inhibit the availability of calcium and hydroxide ions, thus reducing the overall reaction rate and extending the setting time.

4.Classification of Concrete Admixture Air-Entraining Agent

Concrete admixture air-entraining agents are used to introduce and stabilize small air bubbles in the concrete mix. These air bubbles help improve the durability of the concrete by providing resistance to freeze-thaw cycles, reducing damage from internal pressure, and increasing workability. Air-entraining agents can be classified into different categories based on their composition and mode of action. 

Here are some common classifications of concrete admixture air-entraining agents:

1. Natural-based agents:

Surfactant-based air-entraining agents contain synthetic surface-active chemicals that reduce the surface tension of the water in the concrete mix. This reduction in surface tension allows for the formation and stabilization of air bubbles. Surfactant-based agents are often more effective than natural-based agents in achieving higher air contents and uniform distribution of air throughout the concrete.

2. Surfactant-based agents:

Surfactant-based air-entraining agents contain synthetic surface-active chemicals that reduce the surface tension of the water in the concrete mix. This reduction in surface tension allows for the formation and stabilization of air bubbles. Surfactant-based agents are often more effective than natural-based agents in achieving higher air contents and uniform distribution of air throughout the concrete.

3. Vinsol resin-based agents:

Vinsol resin is a derivative of pine wood and is used in air-entraining agents to produce stable air bubbles. It functions by dispersing in the mix and forming films around the air voids, reducing their coalescence and prolonging their stability.

4. Emulsion-based agents:

Emulsion-based air-entraining agents are composed of oils or fatty acids dispersed in water. These agents form a steric hindrance around the air bubbles, preventing their coalescence and maintaining the desired air content.

5. Combination agents:

Combination agents are blends of different types of air-entraining agents, offering enhanced performance and versatility. These agents may combine natural-based and surfactant-based components to achieve specific air content requirements and improve compatibility with different cement types.

5.Classification of concrete admixture Corrosion Inhibitors

Concrete admixture corrosion inhibitors are used to protect reinforcing steel within the concrete from corrosion caused by various factors such as chloride ion ingress, carbonation, and chemical attack. These inhibitors can be classified based on their mechanism of action and composition. 

Here are some common classifications of concrete admixture corrosion inhibitors:

1. Anodic inhibitors:

Anodic inhibitors work by forming a protective layer on the surface of reinforcing steel, which functions as a barrier against corrosive elements. These inhibitors typically consist of organic compounds that react with the steel surface, creating a passivating film that inhibits the corrosion process.

2. Cathodic inhibitors:

Cathodic inhibitors function by reducing or retarding the cathodic reaction that occurs during the corrosion process. These inhibitors often contain compounds like nitrites, molybdates, or phosphates, which help to maintain an alkaline environment near the reinforcing steel and slow down the rate of corrosion.

3. Mixed inhibitors:

Mixed inhibitors combine both anodic and cathodic inhibition mechanisms to provide enhanced protection against corrosion. These inhibitors can comprise a combination of organic and inorganic compounds, such as amines, halides, and silicates.

4. Vapor-phase inhibitors:

Vapor-phase inhibitors (VPIs) are volatile compounds that release vapors into the surrounding environment, creating a protective atmosphere around the reinforcing steel. These inhibitors can penetrate the concrete and form a thin protective film on the steel surface, reducing the risk of corrosion.

5. Hybrid inhibitors:ur Heading Text Here

Hybrid inhibitors combine different corrosion inhibition mechanisms into a single product. These inhibitors may include a combination of anodic, cathodic, and vapor-phase inhibition properties to provide comprehensive protection against corrosion.

Here are some examples of the most common corrosion inhibitors, but specific corrosion risks and environmental conditions must be considered when selecting corrosion inhibitors in actual use. It is recommended to consult a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines to select the most suitable corrosion inhibitor for your concrete application.

Chapter 3: The Most Common Ways to Find Concrete Admixture Suppliers

Browse different ways to find concrete admixture suppliers. There are many other options besides visiting the market in person. These will be discussed in this chapter.

1. Online search

Searching online is a quick and easy way to find concrete admixture suppliers. For example use a search engine like Google with keywords like “concrete admixture suppliers” or “concrete chemicals suppliers” to find a list of potential suppliers. You can then visit their websites to gather more information about their products, services and contact details.

2. Industry directories

Industry directories specific to construction and concrete materials can provide a comprehensive list of concrete admixture suppliers. Look for directories such as the Concrete Network, Thomasnet, or Construction Directory to find suppliers operating in your area. These directories often allow you to filter results based on location, product type, and other criteria.

3. Trade shows and exhibitions

Attending trade shows and exhibitions related to the construction industry is an excellent way to connect with concrete admixture suppliers. These events often feature a wide range of suppliers showcasing their products and technologies. You can interact directly with suppliers, learn about their offerings, and discuss your specific requirements.

4. Online marketplaces

Online marketplaces such as Alibaba and Amazon or specialized building material platforms can also be used to find concrete admixture suppliers. These platforms allow you to search for suppliers, compare products, read reviews, and even place orders directly.

5. Looking for a market purchasing agent

The best way to choose a good manufacturer is to hire a sourcing agent like Goodcan trading. They can screen, validate and select the best suppliers for you on your behalf. All you need to do is pay the fee and hand over all purchasing needs to GOODCAN.

Both domestic and international buyers employ purchasing agents. This is because they provide convenience to people. Experienced importers/exporters don’t want to get into the trouble of sourcing from Chinese suppliers because you never know which ones are legal and which ones aren’t.

When you source from a purse manufacturer that a sourcing agent screens for you, there is no chance of any scams as long as the sourcing agent is legit.

You can also look for different reliable sourcing agents from other sources. But first make sure they are all reliable and honest and have many international and domestic clients.

When looking for a concrete admixture supplier, factors such as product quality, reputation, customer support, and logistics capabilities must be considered.

Some brand companies have famous influence all over the world, such as Master Builders Solutions (BASF), Sika, GCP Applied Technologies…

For details, please refer to 《Top 5 Concrete Admixture Companies》

Of course more distributors will consider products with more competitive prices, such as purchasing from concrete admixture manufacturers in China, but no matter what you choose, ask for samples, evaluate technical specifications and compare prices of different suppliers before making a decision .

Chapter 4:Commonly used concrete admixture application scenarios

1.Application of water reducing agent

①High-strength concrete

Water-reducing agents are often used in the production of high-strength concrete, where a lower water-cement ratio is desired to achieve higher compressive strengths. By reducing the water content, the concrete can have better workability without sacrificing its strength.

② Pumped concrete

When concrete needs to be pumped over long distances or to higher elevations, a water-reducing agent can help increase flowability and reduce the risk of blockages. The reduced water content helps maintain the necessary consistency while improving pumpability.

③Waterproofing works or structures exposed to harsh environments.

Water-reducing agents can be beneficial in applications where reduced permeability is required, such as in waterproofing projects or structures exposed to harsh environments. By lowering the water content, the concrete can have improved resistance to moisture penetration and potentially increase durability.

④Environmental conditions that compromise the integrity of concrete

By reducing the water content, water-reducing agents can help improve the durability of concrete by minimizing shrinkage, cracking, and drying-related issues. This is particularly important in structures exposed to freeze-thaw cycles, aggressive chemicals, or environmental conditions that could compromise concrete integrity.

⑤Crowded rebar or complex formwork

Water-reducing agents enhance the workability of concrete, making it easier to mix, place, and finish. This can be especially useful in situations where concrete needs to flow around congested reinforcement or complex formwork, ensuring proper consolidation and achieving desired surface finishes.

2.In which buildings are concrete admixtures Acceleratorsused?

Concrete admixtures known as accelerators are commonly used in various types of buildings and construction projects where there is a need for faster setting and early strength development. 

Here are some examples of buildings where concrete accelerators may be used:

①High-rise buildings

In high-rise construction projects, the use of concrete accelerators can help speed up the production process by reducing the time required for concrete to set and gain strength. This allows for faster construction progress, enabling floors and structural elements to be built more quickly.

②Commercial buildings

Concrete accelerators are often employed in the construction of commercial buildings such as offices, shopping malls, and hotels. These projects typically have strict schedules, and the use of accelerators can help meet deadlines by reducing the curing time of concrete and allowing for earlier occupancy or finishing work.

③Infrastructure projects

Accelerators are commonly used in infrastructure projects such as bridges, tunnels, and highways. These projects often require rapid concrete strength development to minimize traffic disruptions and expedite construction timelines.

④Cold weather construction

In regions with cold climates, concrete accelerators are essential for construction projects during colder seasons. Accelerators enable concrete to set and harden properly even in low temperatures, preventing delays and ensuring that construction activities can continue in adverse weather conditions.

⑤ Repairs and renovations

When performing repairs or renovations on existing structures, concrete accelerators can be used to speed up the curing process. This allows for quicker reopening of roads, buildings, or other facilities, minimizing disruption to daily operations.

3.In which buildings are concrete admixtures Retardersused?

Concrete admixtures known as retarders are commonly used in various types of buildings and construction projects where there is a need to slow down the setting time of concrete. 

Here are some examples of buildings where concrete retarders may be used:

①Large-scale projects

Retarders are often used in large-scale construction projects such as stadiums, convention centers, or industrial facilities. These projects typically require a longer working time for concrete to allow for proper placement and finishing before it begins to set.

②Complex architectural designs

Buildings with intricate architectural features or decorative concrete elements often require retarders. The extended setting time provided by retarders allows for more precise placement and detailing of the concrete, ensuring that complex designs are achieved accurately.

③Hot weather construction

In regions with hot climates, concrete retarders are essential to counteract the accelerated setting caused by high temperatures. They allow for a more manageable working time, preventing premature drying and ensuring adequate finishing of the concrete.

④Pumped concrete applications

When concrete needs to be pumped over long distances or to higher elevations, retarders can be added to delay the setting time. This provides sufficient time for the concrete to flow smoothly through the pumping equipment without blocking or segregating.

⑤Repair and restoration projects

Retarders are commonly used in repair and restoration work where existing concrete surfaces need to be matched or repaired. By extending the setting time of the repair material, retarders facilitate better adhesion and compatibility with the surrounding concrete.

4.In which buildings is the concrete admixture Air-Entraining Agent used?

The concrete admixture known as an air-entraining agent is commonly used in various types of buildings and construction projects where improved durability and resistance to freeze-thaw cycles are required. 

Here are some examples of buildings where air-entraining agents may be used:

①Residential buildings

Air-entraining agents are often used in the construction of residential buildings such as houses, apartments, and condominiums. By entraining tiny air bubbles in the concrete, these agents improve the concrete’s ability to withstand freeze-thaw cycles, which is especially important in colder climates.

②Commercial buildings

Commercial buildings, including offices, retail spaces, and warehouses, often utilize air-entraining agents in their construction. This helps to increase the durability and longevity of the concrete, reducing the potential for cracking or spalling caused by freeze-thaw damage.

③Bridges and highways

Concrete used in the construction of bridges and highways is subjected to harsh conditions, including exposure to deicing salts and frequent freeze-thaw cycles. Air-entraining agents help to reduce the damage caused by these conditions and improve the overall durability of the concrete structures.

④Parking structures

Parking garages and parking lots are exposed to significant temperature fluctuations, as well as moisture and chemical exposure from vehicles. By incorporating air-entraining agents in the concrete, these structures can better withstand the stresses and potential damage caused by freezing and thawing.

⑤Industrial facilities

Buildings such as factories, manufacturing plants, or storage facilities may also benefit from the use of air-entraining agents in their concrete construction. These agents help to prevent deterioration due to freeze-thaw cycles, ensuring the structural integrity of the facility over time.

It is worth noting that air-entraining agents are usually added to concrete mixtures in cold climates or areas where freeze-thaw cycles are very likely to occur. According to the differences in the environment of different regions, air-entraining agents are not only used in these buildings, in order to ensure the quality of the building , in some cold countries most buildings may use air-entraining agents. However, depending on the specific situation, it is recommended to consult an expert or manufacturer before use.

5.In which buildings are concrete admixtures Corrosion Inhibitors used?

Concrete admixtures known as corrosion inhibitors are commonly used in buildings and structures that are subject to corrosive environments or exposure to chemicals. 

Here are some examples of buildings where corrosion inhibitors may be used:

①Coastal structures

Buildings located near coastal areas, such as beachfront properties, piers, docks, or sea walls, are exposed to high levels of saltwater and airborne salts. Corrosion inhibitors are often used in the concrete mixture for these structures to protect the reinforcing steel from corrosion caused by saltwater exposure.

②Industrial facilities

Industrial facilities have to be mentioned again. Buildings and structures in industrial environments, such as factories, power plants or wastewater treatment plants, are often exposed to harsh chemical environments. Corrosion inhibitors can help prevent corrosion of rebar caused by chemicals in the air or water, extending the life of buildings and reducing maintenance costs.

③Parking structures

Parking garages and parking lots are particularly susceptible to corrosion due to the exposure to deicing salts, oil, and other chemicals from vehicles. Incorporating corrosion inhibitors in the concrete can provide protection against the corrosive effects of these substances, helping to preserve the structural integrity of the parking structure.

④Infrastructure projects

Concrete structures in infrastructure projects, including bridges, tunnels, and highways, are exposed to various corrosive elements such as deicing salts, moisture, and chemicals from vehicle emissions. Corrosion inhibitors can be added to the concrete mix to mitigate the effects of corrosion on the reinforcement, ensuring the durability and safety of these critical structures.

⑤Water and wastewater treatment facilities

Buildings and structures involved in the treatment or storage of water and wastewater are prone to corrosion due to the high presence of moisture and chemicals. Corrosion inhibitors can be used in the concrete to protect the reinforcement from corrosive substances and extend the service life of these facilities.

The above are the commonly used concrete admixtures most of the time, but it is definitely not limited to this. Many people will add concrete admixtures to improve the quality of the building. Specifically, whether your building can use the corresponding admixture, please consult your side admixture experts, or you can consult us

Chapter 5: Frequently Asked Questions About Common Concrete Admixtures

Water-reducing agents, also known as plasticizers, help improve the workability of the concrete while reducing the amount of water needed for a given slump. They increase the flowability of the mixture without compromising strength.

Superplasticizers are highly effective water-reducing agents that can significantly increase the flowability of concrete without sacrificing its strength. They are used to produce self-consolidating concrete (SCC) or high-performance concrete.

The best way to ensure you are getting the best price on different admixtures is to conduct extensive market research. Next, get quotes from different suppliers. Now you can compare prices and make sure you’re not being scammed or ripped off.

The time it takes to receive an admixture from a manufacturer in China can vary depending on several factors, including the specific manufacturer, production capacity, mode of transportation and distance. It is best to contact the manufacturer directly to inquire about their lead time and estimated delivery time for a particular order. They will be able to give you the most accurate information on the time it will take to receive the admixture from their facility.

Chapter 5 :Conclusion

Overall, this article has made personal insights on common concrete admixtures based on experience. I hope this guide can help users who want to know about admixtures. If you are interested in admixtures from Chinese manufacturers but cannot come to China, we can handle the procurement process from start to finish for you.

Then, drop us a line today.

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