Lab Report: Properties of Concrete

Categories: Chemistry


Concrete is a composite material composed of sand, rock, or similar inert aggregates bonded together by a cementing material, typically Portland cement. This versatile construction material is widely used due to its desirable properties such as workability, strength, durability, and cost-effectiveness. The properties of concrete are influenced not only by the characteristics of its constituent materials, including cement, water, sand, and coarse aggregate but also by the relative proportions of these ingredients.

The selection of appropriate proportions is crucial in producing concrete with the desired properties.

Common aggregates in concrete include gravel and crushed stone, although alternative materials like cinders, blast-furnace slag, burned shale, or crushed brick can be used for specific purposes. The aggregate size distribution significantly impacts the workability and economy of the concrete mix. An excessive proportion of fine particles or uniform aggregate size can lead to increased cement paste requirement, affecting workability and cost-efficiency. A range of aggregate sizes is generally preferred to achieve an economical mix.

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The suitability of concrete for a particular application is often determined by its ability to provide the necessary strength and workability while remaining cost-effective. Strength, in the context of concrete, typically refers to the ultimate compressive strength of the material when moist-cured for 28 days.

Most concrete mixtures aim for an ultimate compressive strength ranging from 2500 to 4000 psi after 28 days. The strength development in concrete over time follows a characteristic curve. Concrete's modulus of elasticity is approximately 1000 times its ultimate compressive strength. Achieving greater strength depends primarily on the water-cement ratio, with lower ratios producing stronger concrete.

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While only a minimal amount of water is necessary for the chemical reactions involved in setting concrete, additional water is often added to enhance workability.

Workability Measurement

The workability of concrete is an essential property and is commonly evaluated using the "slump" test. The slump test involves placing freshly mixed concrete into a mold resembling a truncated cone. The dimensions of the mold are 12 inches in height, 8 inches in diameter at the bottom, and 4 inches in diameter at the top. The concrete is filled in three layers, with each layer compacted by rodding. After filling, the mold is gently lifted, and the slump of the concrete is measured as the vertical distance between the top of the mass and its original height of 12 inches.

Increasing the mixing water content in concrete can enhance workability by increasing its slump. However, this action also reduces strength and promotes the segregation of concrete ingredients unless additional cement is added. The cost-effectiveness of concrete production depends on optimizing the interplay between strength, workability, and cost, making it a complex relationship to manage.

Materials and Methods


  • Portland cement
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Water
  • Molds for slump test


  1. Two concrete mixtures are prepared using the specified volume ratios of cement, sand, and gravel as instructed by the instructor.
  2. The concrete is mixed thoroughly to ensure homogeneity of the mixture.
  3. The slump test is conducted to measure the workability of each concrete mixture. The slump is determined as the vertical distance from the top of the mass to its initial height of 12 inches.
  4. Observations and measurements of the concrete mixtures are recorded for further analysis.

Data Analysis

Concrete properties, including workability and strength, are affected by the relative proportions of cement, sand, and gravel in the mixture. The results of the concrete mixtures prepared in this experiment will be analyzed to assess their workability and other properties.


The results obtained from the experiment are summarized in the table below:

Data Table

Concrete Mixture Cement Volume Ratio Sand Volume Ratio Gravel Volume Ratio Slump (inches)
Mixture 1 1 2 3 5.5
Mixture 2 1 3 2 3.8

The slump test results for both concrete mixtures are presented in the table above. Slump measurements provide an indication of the workability of the concrete, with higher values indicating greater workability.


The experiment aimed to investigate the influence of varying cement, sand, and gravel volume ratios on the workability of concrete mixtures. The results from the slump tests reveal valuable insights into the impact of these proportions on concrete properties.

Workability and Cement Ratios

In Mixture 1, with a cement volume ratio of 1, a slump value of 5.5 inches was obtained. This indicates relatively high workability. The higher cement content likely contributed to the increased cohesion of the mixture, making it easier to handle and shape. However, the high cement content may also affect the overall cost of the concrete due to the expense of cement.

In contrast, Mixture 2, with a cement volume ratio of 1, produced a lower slump value of 3.8 inches. This suggests lower workability compared to Mixture 1. The reduced cement content in this mixture might have led to less cohesion and ease of handling. However, it may result in cost savings due to the reduced cement usage.

Proportions of Sand and Gravel

Another aspect of the experiment is the variation in sand and gravel volume ratios while keeping the cement ratio constant. This allows us to examine how adjustments in the proportion of fine and coarse aggregates affect workability.

Mixture 1, with a sand volume ratio of 2 and a gravel volume ratio of 3, demonstrated a higher slump value of 5.5 inches. This suggests that a higher proportion of coarse aggregate (gravel) may contribute to improved workability. The presence of larger particles in the mixture can enhance cohesion and ease of handling.

Conversely, Mixture 2, with a sand volume ratio of 3 and a gravel volume ratio of 2, exhibited a lower slump value of 3.8 inches. This indicates reduced workability compared to Mixture 1. The higher proportion of fine aggregate (sand) may have resulted in decreased cohesion and a less workable mixture.

Cost and Performance Trade-offs

The experiment demonstrates the trade-offs between workability, strength, and cost in concrete mixtures. Increasing the cement content tends to enhance workability but also raises the cost. Adjusting the proportions of sand and gravel can influence workability, with coarser aggregates potentially improving it.

Ultimately, the choice of concrete mixture depends on the specific requirements of a construction project. For applications where high workability is essential, a mixture with a higher cement ratio may be preferred despite the increased cost. Conversely, projects with lower workability demands and a focus on cost-efficiency may opt for mixtures with adjusted aggregate proportions.


The experiment explored the impact of varying cement, sand, and gravel volume ratios on the workability of concrete mixtures. The results from the slump tests provided valuable insights into the relationship between these proportions and concrete properties.

Mixture 1, with a cement volume ratio of 1, exhibited a higher slump value of 5.5 inches, indicating good workability. This suggests that a higher cement content enhances cohesion and ease of handling, although it may increase costs. Mixture 2, with the same cement ratio, showed a lower slump value of 3.8 inches, suggesting reduced workability and potential cost savings due to lower cement usage.

The experiment highlights the importance of balancing workability, strength, and cost when designing concrete mixtures for specific applications. Project requirements and budget constraints play a significant role in determining the optimal mixture proportions.


Based on the findings of this experiment, it is recommended to conduct further studies exploring additional concrete properties affected by varying mixture proportions. Future experiments could investigate the influence of these proportions on concrete strength and durability. Additionally, cost analyses considering material expenses and project performance could provide valuable insights for real-world construction applications.

Updated: Dec 29, 2023
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Lab Report: Properties of Concrete. (2018, Oct 05). Retrieved from

Lab Report: Properties of Concrete essay
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