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A cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word “cement” traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed rock with burnt lime as binder. The volcanic ash and pulverized brick additives that were added to the burnt lime to obtain a hydraulic binder were later referred to as cementum, cimentum, cäment, and cement.
Cements used in construction can be characterized as being either hydraulic or non-hydraulic. Hydraulic cements (e.g., Portland cement) harden because of hydration, a chemical reaction between the anhydrous cement powder and water. Thus, they can harden underwater or when constantly exposed to wet weather. The chemical reaction results in hydrates that are not very water-soluble and so are quite durable in water. Non-hydraulic cements do not harden underwater; for example, slaked limes harden by reaction with atmospheric carbon dioxide
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