Cement is one of the oldest building materials in the world. In this section, find out about its history and how we make it.
An overview of the history, process and terminology of the cement-making process.
Cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently and can bind other materials together. Cement used in construction is characterized as hydraulic or non-hydraulic. Hydraulic cements (e.g. Portland cement) harden because of hydration, chemical reactions that occur independently of the mixture's water content; they can harden even underwater or when constantly exposed to wet weather.
The chemical reaction that results when the anhydrous cement powder is mixed with water produces hydrates that are not water-soluble. Non-hydraulic cements (e.g. gypsum plaster) must be kept dry in order to retain their strength.
The most important use of cement is the production of mortar and concrete, the bonding of natural or artificial aggregate to form a strong building material that is durable in the face of normal environmental effects.