The Do’s and Don’ts of Cold Weather Concrete Mixing

The Do's and Don’ts of Cold Weather Concrete Mixing

Most people think there’s an equivalent to antifreeze to keep wet concrete from freezing. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as anything of the sort. What helps concrete set in winter is hot water, which causes the heat of hydration that prevents concrete freezing. Being able to keep working despite cold weather conditions can make your concrete and construction based business a year long success. Learn how to keep your concrete business open even in the cold winter months.

The Do’s of Winter Concrete Mixing

Prepare your Crew Ahead of Time

Whether you are a commercial contractor building a winter project, or a homeowner improving your property outdoors, the cold weather doesn’t have to hold you back from working with concrete. Of course, the winter months are atypical for completing concrete projects in general, but our work doesn’t come to a halt just because the temperatures are plummeting. Everyone involved with the handling of concrete, from the batch plant and delivery drivers to workers making preparations on-site, needs to work together to produce concrete and establish on-site conditions suitable for cold weather. Set up a pre-construction meeting to discuss plans for protection and keeping concrete materials up to specified temperatures need to made well before the concrete arrives. Make sure you equip your team with the best options for concrete plant water heaters.

Keep Accurate Tracking of your Concrete’s Temperature

Keeping the concrete’s temperature above 20 degrees is crucial to prevent freezing. Ensure that everything that comes into contact with your customer’s mix is heated with a concrete hot water tank. If the concrete leaves the plant at 65°F,  you should still keep in mind that the temperature will drop a quarter of the difference between the temperatures of the air and concrete during a one-hour delivery time. The best large heated water tank ensures that you can provide customers with as much warm concrete as they need.

Plan your Route for Cold Weather Concrete Delivery

Knowing that you have to be mindful of the concrete’s temperature during your commute, plan your delivery route accordingly to avoid unnecessary drops in temperature. With the continual rise in the cost of concrete, it’s imperative to make sure that you the most efficient route to your destination to arrive safe in a timely matter to pour your warm concrete. Navigation apps like Waze provide helpful insights on potential roadblocks while you’re navigating.

Use a Higher Quality Concrete Mix

Another important factor in working with concrete during the colder weather months is the quality of the concrete mix you’re using. The perfect “recipe” is needed in order to ensure concrete will perform the way you need it to. Prepare a wintry concrete mix of the right ingredients ahead of time. This allows you to work with the expected weather conditions to help it pour well and set more quickly. Considerations include using setting accelerators and water reducing additives, avoiding fly ash or slag cement in cold weather as they set more slowly and generate less internal heat, and adding extra cement to the mix to generate its own additional heat. Don’t forget that using good water solutions will make a huge difference.

The Don’ts of Winter Concrete Mixing

Don’t Wait to Long to Set up your Concrete Water Heating Tank

You already face a risk when wet and dry ingredients are not mixed properly, using water that’s not the right temperature can hinder your whole operation. Using water that has not been properly heated by your concrete hot water tank can lead to segregation, frost damage and just make your concrete all around difficult to work with. Make sure that all the tools you need to prep your mixture are set up ahead of time so there are no unnecessary delays.

Don’t Forget Protective Gear

Concrete splatters can burn eyes and irritate skin by quickly drawing out its moisture, leaving it rough, dry, and cracked. Take steps to protect yourself by Shelling out for the appropriate protective gear. In addition to the usual protective measures, make sure you cover yourself with several layers to reduce the risk of cold weather related illness or injury.

Don’t Leave any Ingredients Unmixed

In order to set correctly, the hot water and the dry concrete ingredients must be combined all the way. Continue mixing with a hoe or blending with a StirWhip for three minutes after you no longer see any pockets of the mix that are still dry or water pooling at the top. Work smarter not harder and bring the right concrete mixer for the job.

Don’t Add too much Hot Water to Mix your Concrete

Adding the right amount of hot water for concrete ensures that it is strong enough for the job you’re working on. When there is too much water in your concrete mix, the mix will be ‘swamped’, which will weaken the chemical bonds. More water results in increased porosity, meaning that the hardened concrete will have many more tiny holes, affecting the color and its ability to stick properly.

How do I properly Heat Concrete for easy Application?

Your water system can be the lifeline of your operation. If the plant doesn’t have enough steam hot or soft water, EVERYONE waits. And waiting is the arch enemy of profit. Unfortunately, many water systems go unnoticed until there’s a problem. We’re here to help with that.

The R.W. Martin Plant Water Division can help increase uptime, improve production save energy, reduce wastewater and make you money. Our process water specialists can access your power plant operation and provide a plan for your mechanical room for the future. From Boilers to Water Heaters to Heat Recovery, R.W. Martin is your source for equipment, technical service, knowledge and support. We keep your engine running at peak efficiency so you can stay focused on growth.

The R.W. Martin Plant Water Division can help increase uptime, improve production save energy, reduce wastewater and make you money. Their process water specialists can access your power plant operation and provide a plan for your mechanical room for the future. Learn more today at