Despite hearing the words concrete and cement on a regular basis, most people are not familiar with the differences between these two materials. Everyday people hear about the fluctuating prices of these commodities or their use in plans for home additions. In reality, however, there is a significant difference between concrete and cement, both in terms of their makeup and their common uses. In one word, the main difference of concrete and cement is that concrete is actually made up of aggregate, water, and cement.
To effectively compare concrete with cement, it helps to look at the two substances from a variety of perspectives as doing so will make the differences clearer.
Concrete vs. Cement: Historical Aspects
As far as experts know, the first concrete occurrence may have been around twelve million years ago. This was naturally-forming cement that was created from oil shale which was right next to limestone when the limestone bed burnt.
In terms of human use, we have been using concrete for at least several thousand years. We know that eight thousand years ago, the ancient Nabataea culture used materials very similar to concrete and you can still see some of the structures today. There are also concrete floors formed from pebbles and lime in the Tiryns, Greece royal palace (1400 – 1200 BC) as well as lime mortars in Cyprus, Crete, and Greece (800 BC). Other historic groups who used concrete included the Assyrians and Romans.
Comparing concrete with cement shows both have long histories as the early Mesopotamians used cement during the third millennium BC and they were also used later on in Egypt. The Ancient Macedonians and Roman engineers also used cement that was a combination of concrete. You can still see examples of this ancient use today in the Pantheon’s large dome in Rome. John Smeaton helped advance the methods of cement while constructing the third Eddystone Lighthouse. Later, James Parker’s “Roman cement” became popular as a type of natural cement that could set in five to fifteen minutes.