Concrete Block Curing - Humidification
In all but the least critical applications, care needs to be taken to properly cure concrete blocks, to achieve best strength and hardness. This happens after the concrete has been placed. Cement requires a moist, controlled environment to gain strength and harden fully. The cement paste hardens over time, initially setting and becoming rigid though very weak and gaining in strength in the weeks following. In around 3 weeks, typically over 90% of the final strength is reached, though strengthening may continue for decades. The conversion of calcium hydroxide in the concrete into calcium carbonate from absorption of
CO2 over several decades further strengthen the concrete and making it more resilient to damage. Hydration and hardening of concrete during the first three days is critical. Abnormally fast drying and shrinkage due to factors such as evaporation from wind during placement may lead to increased tensile stresses at a time when it has not yet gained sufficient strength, resulting in greater shrinkage & cracking. The early strength of the concrete can be increased if it is kept damp during the curing process. Minimizing stress prior to curing minimizes cracking. High-early-strength concrete is designed to hydrate faster, often by increased use of cement that increases shrinkage and cracking. During this period concrete needs to be kept under controlled temperature and humid atmosphere. In practice, this is achieved by High pressure fogging or technically called as Humidification of the concrete blocks, thereby protecting the concrete mass from ill effects of ambient conditions. Properly cured concrete blocks leads to increased strength and lower permeability and avoids cracking where the surface dries out prematurely. Care must also be taken to avoid freezing, or overheating due to the exothermic setting of cement. Improper curing can cause scaling, reduced strength, poor abrasion resistance and cracking.