Are you getting ready to build? You may be considering untreated wood. That’s fine. If you want a material with real staying power though, look to concrete instead. It’s strong, easy to work with, and something you can actually make on your own!
So we’ll take a look at what goes into making homemade concrete for your next building project.
Materials Needed for Homemade Concrete
Concrete consists of cement, sand, and gravel. So really the first thing you need to do is make cement. Cement is made from either pulverized limestone or seashells such as those from oysters or freshwater mussels. If you happen to be a shell collector or live near a body of water, you’ll have no trouble acquiring seashells. But what about limestone?
The good news is, limestone is available just about everywhere on the planet. If you’re relying on nature, you’ll first want to look for whitish rocks. To determine if the whitish rocks you have are limestone, pour vinegar or another type of acid onto them. If the vinegar/acid fizzles, you see bubbles, and then hear a popping sound, you’ve got limestone.
You can also use a coin to scratch the rock. If it leaves an imprint, you’ve most likely found limestone. The simplest way to get limestone, however, is from a quarry, your local hardware store, or even a garden shop. While seashells are easy to grind and pulverize, doing so with limestone requires you to heat them.
Heating and Cooling Limestone
In an ideal world, you would have access to a kiln that can get very hot. Since that’s not the case for most people, an open fire is a more realistic option. Whichever method you’re using, it’s important to get the stones as hot as possible for as long as possible. You’ll need to keep the heat source going strong for at least a couple of hours.
For the best results, it helps to break up the limestone as much as possible so that there’s less surface area. They will heat faster this way. When you notice the limestone begin to swell up, they will become dense and easier to grind. Take them from the heat and allow them to cool off completely. The smaller the stones, the faster they’ll cool.
Creating Cement for the Concrete
Wearing a respirator and gloves, mash the limestone until it’s a powder. This is known as quicklime. To make cement from quicklime, slowly add water at a ratio of three parts water to one part lime. Once you have the right texture and consistency for your cement, add in the sand and gravel. Start with a ratio of one part cement, two parts sand, and three parts gravel. Getting your concrete just right will lessen the likelihood of having to go through the process of raising concrete later.
Your best bet when making homemade concrete is to start with small batches until you get your technique mastered. Then once you feel comfortable with the mixture ratio, you’re ready to build. So get to it! And keep checking back with us for more DIY ideas for your home and garden.