CONCRETE CURING ANALOGY
The curing of concrete is probably the most important step in the development of high quality concrete. The placement of an appropriate mix must be followed in a timely manner, by curing in a suitable environment during the early stages of strong initial hydration, generally as soon as is practical following the surface finish.
Curing is a term given the procedures used to promote optimum hydration of plastic, or semi-plastic Portland cement concrete, during its early development of strength. Curing normally consists of temperature control and moisture movement in or out of newly-placed concrete. The moisture movement ultimately affects the concrete’s strength, permeability, and durability.
The conventional accepted objective in concrete curing, is to retain as much of the original mix water inside newly-placed concrete. The more water retained, the longer the initial accelerated hydration process within the concrete mass. This increased hydration process subsequently produces larger volume of Calcium Silicate Hydrate (C-S-H) or hydration product, significantly improving finished concrete quality. This is especially true when mix water pockets or capillaries are filled to their fullest possible extent by products of hydration. However, in most concrete placement, jobsite active curing stops long before the maximum possible hydration has taken place.
The general consensus is that no practical curing method can perform as well as water ponding. However, water curing requires continual monitoring of curing progression. Curing time varies greatly, based on many factors such as temperature, humidity, degree of concrete protection, admixtures used and more. The net result of these variances makes water ponding labor intensive and costly.