Cement is the binding material. After addition of water it hydrates and binds aggregates and the surrounding surfaces like stone and bricks. Generally richer mix (with more cement) gives more strength. Setting time starts after 30 minutes and ends after 6 hours. Hence concrete should be laid in its mould before 30 minutes of mixing of water and should not be subjected to any external forces till final setting takes place.
Coarse aggregate consists of crushed stones. It should be well graded and the stones should be of igneous origin. They should be clean, sharp, angular and hard. They give mass to the concrete and prevent shrinkage of cement. Fine aggregate consists of river sand. It prevents shrinkage of cement. When surrounded by cement it gains mobility enters the voids in coarse aggregates and binding of
ingradients takes place. It adds density to concrete, since it fills the voids. Denser the concrete higher is its strength.
Water used for making concrete should be clean. It activates the hydration of cement and forms plastic mass. As it sets completely concrete becomes hard mass. Water gives workability to concrete which means water makes it possible to mix the concrete with ease and place it in final position. More the water better is the workability. However excess water reduces the strength of concrete. Figure 3.1 shows the variation of strength of concrete with water cement ratio. To achieve required workability and at the same time good strength a water cement ratio of 0.4 to 0.45 is used, in case of machine mixing and water cement ratio of 0.5 to 0.6 is used for hand mixing.