Clay and cement are two common construction materials with their strengths and weaknesses. However, combining them in certain circumstances makes it possible to create stronger and more effective concrete mixtures.
Let’s look at what they are, how they differ, and how you can tell whether or not you should use clay in your next concrete project.
Can you mix cement with clay?
The short answer is yes, you can mix clay and cement together. The long answer is that there are a few different clays, some of which are purer than others. There are also different types of cement.
Mixing these two materials together depends on the type of clay, cement type, and how it will be used. If you want to use the mixture for art or sculpture projects, then any type of clay may be mixed with any type of cement (or other material).
However, if you’re planning on using your concrete mixture as a building material, then make sure that your particular clays and cement meet certain requirements set by building codes.
What Happens If You Add Clay to Concrete?
Mixing clay with cement is a natural and sustainable way of strengthening concrete.
While concrete is one of the most widely used building materials in modern construction, it does have its drawbacks regarding the effectiveness of chemical admixtures, workability of slurry, workability of the final mix, and durability.
However, if you add a little clay to your concrete mix, your project may be just what you need. The addition of clay has been found to increase the strength of concrete and decrease the amount of water needed for production.
The result is that less energy is consumed in manufacturing, which creates a greener alternative for people who want to build their own homes or commercial buildings.
Differences between Clay and Cement
Cement is a chemical substance that sets and hardens when mixed with water. Clay, on the other hand, is a natural resource that does not set or harden when mixed with water.
The two are very different in their properties and cannot be substituted for one another.
Apart from differences by definition, the two differ in terms of:
Adding clay to concrete makes it weaker and more susceptible to cracks, while cement will make it stronger and less likely to crack.
In some cases, this could be useful since adding clay might add strength if not enough is already present in the mix. However, too much clay can cause structural damage.
As a result, experts recommend using only small amounts of clay in the concrete mixture. To keep the mixture at an optimal level of consistency, use between 10% clays per volume of total mixture content (cement+sand+water).
2. Thermal efficiency:
The thermal efficiency of clay is lower than the thermal efficiency of cement because it absorbs heat better than cement.
Consequently, you would need to put more air bubbles into the concrete mixture to achieve a similar heat resistance as that achieved with just normal cement.
Due to its high porosity, more energy is also required to produce mortar using clay than cement. In addition, you must also take note of how well the mortar mix adheres together once dry before proceeding to install any type of walling material, such as bricks or stone blocks.
If the mortar becomes brittle after drying, then this may lead to crumbles and poor walling installation quality overall.
Is Clay Stronger Than Cement?
No. It can be weaker if you’re working with a very wet or dry mixture. The mixture of cement and water creates a chemical reaction that strengthens the mixture. Adding clay to the mix will disrupt this process and weaken the mixture.
It is possible to create a strong brick or tile out of clay, but not when mixed with cement. If you want something made out of strong clay, use some other type of bonding agent.
Why Clay Is Not Used in Concrete
Clay is not used in concrete because it is a water-repellent material. It can absorb about 25% of its weight before it starts to crumble. Concrete, on the other hand, needs to be able to hold up against water and moisture.
The addition of clay would make the concrete less strong and less durable, which is why it is not used in this project. Some types of clays could be mixed with cement as they have different properties, but they are usually added to strengthen the mixture.
Can Red Clay Be Mixed With Cement?
Yes, red clay can be mixed with cement. The most common use for red clay is in the production of brick and stucco, but it can also be mixed with white cement to create grey concrete.
Red clay has two main benefits: it contributes to ecology by slowing down the pace of erosion. It also enhances concrete mechanical properties in fire -resistance and compressive strength, which are crucial features when building homes or other structures that need protection from fire.
What Type of Clay Is Used for Cement?
The clay used for cement includes kaolinite, ball clay, bentonite, fireclay, and fuller’s earth. Some clays are hydrated, while others are un-hydrated because they react differently with water.
Hydrated clays produce a lighter and more plastic material that reacts better to moist conditions. Un-hydrated clays are more brittle and produce a stronger mix when combined with sand.
These types of clay have a higher shrinkage rate, making them less desirable for concrete mixtures.
Why is it difficult to stabilize clay with cement?
Simply, the rise in cement content notably decreases the water content of clay and limits its plasticity. In addition, clay particles are so large they disrupt the chemical reaction necessary for cement to harden.
The result is that cement containing clay doesn’t set properly and is weaker than those made with only cement and sand.
In essence, you can mix cement with clay, but the outcome will not be typical concrete. If you add clay to concrete, you’ll have some hybrid material.
So before mixing up a batch of cement and clay in your project, make sure that you’re aware of what it might do to the final product.