Types of Admixtures Used in Concrete Production

Types of Admixtures Used in Concrete Production

When it comes to producing high-quality concrete, admixtures play a vital role in enhancing the properties and performance of the final product. From improving workability and durability to reducing water content and enhancing strength, there are various types of admixtures that can be used in concrete production. In this article, we will explore the different types of admixtures commonly used in the construction industry and their benefits in optimizing concrete mixes for specific applications.

Types of Admixtures Used in Concrete Production

Chemical Admixtures

Chemical admixtures are added to concrete to enhance its properties and improve workability. There are three main types of chemical admixtures commonly used in concrete production:

Water Reducers

Water reducers, also known as plasticizers, are admixtures that reduce the amount of water needed in a concrete mix without affecting its workability. By reducing the water-cement ratio, water reducers can improve the strength and durability of concrete while also making it easier to work with.


Retarders are admixtures that slow down the setting time of concrete, allowing for more time to place and finish the material. This can be particularly useful in hot weather or when working with large pours where rapid setting could lead to cracking or other issues. Retarders can also improve the workability of concrete mixes, making them easier to handle.


Accelerators are admixtures that speed up the setting time of concrete, allowing for faster construction schedules and quicker strength development. This can be especially useful in cold weather or when working on projects that require rapid construction. Accelerators can also improve the early strength of concrete mixes, making them suitable for use in structural applications sooner.

Mineral Admixtures

Mineral admixtures are materials that are added to concrete during the mixing process to improve its properties. These admixtures are typically finely ground materials that are added in small amounts to the concrete mix.

Fly Ash

Fly ash is a byproduct of coal combustion in power plants. It is a fine powder that is carried away with the flue gases and collected in electrostatic precipitators. Fly ash is commonly used as a mineral admixture in concrete production due to its pozzolanic properties. When mixed with water and cement, fly ash reacts to form additional cementitious compounds, improving the strength and durability of concrete.

Silica Fume

Silica fume, also known as microsilica, is a byproduct of silicon and ferrosilicon alloy production. It is a very fine powder with particles that are much smaller than those of cement. Silica fume is highly reactive and when added to concrete, it fills the voids between cement particles, improving the density and strength of the concrete. Silica fume also reduces the permeability of concrete, making it more resistant to chemical attack and corrosion.


Slag is a byproduct of the steel-making process. It is a granular material that is ground into a fine powder for use as a mineral admixture in concrete production. Slag is rich in calcium, silicon, and aluminum compounds, making it a valuable addition to concrete mixes. When added to concrete, slag reacts with water and calcium hydroxide to form additional cementitious compounds, improving the strength and durability of the concrete. Slag also enhances the workability of concrete mixes and reduces heat of hydration, making it particularly useful in mass concrete applications.

Special Admixtures

In addition to the commonly used admixtures in concrete production, there are special admixtures that serve specific purposes to enhance the performance and durability of the concrete. These special admixtures play a crucial role in improving the overall quality of the concrete mix.

Air-Entraining Admixtures

Air-entraining admixtures are added to the concrete mix to introduce microscopic air bubbles. These air bubbles improve the workability of the concrete, making it easier to place and finish. Additionally, air-entraining admixtures increase the durability of concrete by improving its resistance to freeze-thaw cycles. This is especially important in cold climates where concrete is exposed to harsh winter conditions.

Corrosion-Inhibiting Admixtures

Corrosion-inhibiting admixtures are used to protect the reinforcing steel within concrete structures from corrosion. These admixtures form a protective layer around the steel, preventing corrosive agents such as chlorides from reaching the steel surface. By incorporating corrosion-inhibiting admixtures into the concrete mix, the lifespan of the structure is significantly extended, reducing the need for costly repairs and maintenance.

Shrinkage Reducing Admixtures

Shrinkage reducing admixtures are designed to minimize the shrinkage of concrete as it cures. Shrinkage occurs as water evaporates from the concrete mix, leading to cracks and reduced durability. By incorporating shrinkage reducing admixtures, the overall shrinkage of the concrete is reduced, resulting in a more durable and crack-resistant structure. This is particularly important in large concrete pours or in applications where cracking is a concern.

In conclusion, special admixtures play a vital role in enhancing the performance and durability of concrete structures. By incorporating air-entraining admixtures, corrosion-inhibiting admixtures, and shrinkage reducing admixtures into the concrete mix, engineers and contractors can ensure that their projects meet the highest standards of quality and longevity.


In conclusion, admixtures play a crucial role in improving the properties of concrete and enhancing its performance. By incorporating different types of admixtures such as accelerators, retarders, water reducers, and air-entraining agents, concrete producers can achieve desired characteristics such as increased strength, workability, durability, and reduced permeability. It is important for concrete producers and construction professionals to understand the benefits and limitations of each type of admixture in order to optimize concrete production and ensure the successful completion of construction projects. Overall, the use of admixtures in concrete production offers a cost-effective and efficient way to achieve high-quality concrete structures that meet the specific requirements of each project.