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Field Tests on Cement – How to Check Quality of Cement on Site?

“The hard days are what make you stronger.”

Construction materials testing is a process that helps engineers, contractors, and owners to list out problems and deficiencies in materials before actual construction. Field testing help to find out whether the materials are suitable for construction or not by just simple visual and easy practical tests.

If Cement satisfies all the field tests then it indicates that Cement is not bad for Construction but it also doesn’t show that Cement is really good for Mass work. For using Cement in big and massive works it is dependent on the part of the user to test the cement in the laboratory to confirm the requirements of the Indian Standard specifications respect to its physical and chemical properties.

You can check out 6 Laboratory tests on Cement here.

Why to Test Cement on Site?

Testing of Cement on the site is done using some quality tests to get an overview of cement in a short period of time. It’s impossible to carry out Laboratory tests in a short period of time and for a small or medium-scale work so some field tests are carried out to check the quality of cement. These tests give an overview of the quality of cement.

What are the field tests on cement?

1 | Colour

Cement should be GREY with a light green shade colour. Colour should be uniform throughout the full bag of cement.

  • Open the bag of cement and take a look at the cement, check the colour of the cement.
  • Cement should be greenish grey and it should be uniform in colour throughout.

2 | Lump Test

Lumps are the formation of small hard balls of cements due to the absorption of moisture from the air. Cement should be free from lumps for any kind of construction purpose.

Any cement bag delivered with lumps or damaged should be returned unused.

  • After checking colour, now take a look at the cement for visible lumps.
  • There should not be any visible lumps.
  • Put your hand into the cement bag, check the cement, there should not be any lumps inside.
  • Any bags contains such lumps, should be rejected and returned back to the supplier.

3 | Smoothness Test

Lump test and smoothness test are somewhat the same. In smoothness test we seek for very small hard particles that are left during grinding.

If some of the Cement in taken in hands and rubbed between the fingers it should feel smooth. If it feels hard or rough then it is an indication of poor grinding and adulteration with sand.

It is also called as Adultration test.

  • As there are no lumps inside the cement, Now we should check for smoothness of cement.
  • Take a pinch of cement in hand and rub it between the fingers.
  • Cement should feel Smooth.
  • If cement feels rough then it is bad quality cement.

4 | Temperature Test

If hand is poured inside the bag full of Cement it should feel cold inside. If the cement feels somewhat warm then it indicates the start of hydration of cement due to absorption of moisture.

  • After the test for smoothness again put your hand into the cement bag and feel the temperature.
  • A cool feeling Indicates good quality of cement, and a warm feeling indicates hydration of cement ie. bad quality.

5 | Float Test

If a small amount of Cement is thrown in water then it should FLOAT for some time before sinking down. If Cement directly sinks down on coming in contact with water then it is unsuitable for construction.

Also called as Sunk test.

  • Take a handful of cement and throw it on a bucket full of water.
  • The particles should float for some time before they sink.

6 | Setting Test

Remember this is just setting test of Cement paste and not Setting time test.

A thick paste of cement with water is made on a piece of a glass plate and it is kept underwater for 24 hours. It should set and not crack.

  • Make a thick paste of cement with water.
  • Apply it on a piece of a glass plate and keep it underwater for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours check the cement paste, it should set and not crack.

7 | Strength Test

The strength test is done on a cement block of dimension 25*25 mm and 200 mm length. Also, this test is just a strength test and not a Compressive strength test on cement.

  • Prepare a block of cement of dimension 25 mm ×25 mm and length of 200 mm.
  • Immersed it for 7 days in water.
  • Then after 7 days place it on supports 150mm apart and load it with a weight of about 34kg.
  • If the block doesn’t show any failure, then the cement is of good quality.

8 | Smell Test

If the cement contains too much-pounded clay and silt as an adulterant, the paste will give an earthy smell.

8 | Date of Manufacturing

The strength of cement reduces with time, so it is important to check the manufacturing date of the cement. Generally, cement should be used before 90 days from the date of manufacturing.

Age of CementPercentage of Cement Strength reduction
3 months20% – 30%
6 months30% – 40%
12 months40% – 50%

Video Explanation on Field Tests on Cement

FAQs on Field Tests on Cement

What are the common tests performed on cement?

Cement Testing can be done by two types
A) Field Testing
B) Lab Testing
Further, Field Tests Classified as
1 | Colour
2 | Lump Test
3 | Smoothness Test
4 | Temperature Test
5 | Float Test
6 | Setting Test
7 | StrengthTest
8 | Date of Manufacturing

Which cement is best for concrete?

Both OPC and PPC cements are good for construction of concrete slab. OPC is the most commonly used cement in industrial and large construction, PPC is most commonly used for small residential constructions. PPC is used where possibilities of sulphate attack is higher as it has good sulphate resistance compared to OPC.

What is the cause of lump presence in cement?

Lumps in cement forms due to absorption of moisture from air.

How to test cement strength on construction site?

A thick paste of cement with water is made on a piece of a glass plate and it is kept underwater for 24 hours. It should set and not crack.

Which is the test done using Vicat apparatus?

Standard Consistency Test, Initial and Final Setting Time Test are the tests which are done using Vicat Apparatus.

Field Tests on Cement PPT


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