How To Write A Chemical Formula From A Structural Formula Concrete Dissolver

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Concrete Dissolver

Removing cement from masonry tools and equipment is difficult

Oops, your masonry trowel is covered in dried mortar. What are you doing?

You have three choices:

  • Throw it out.

  • Work with it as is.

  • Clean it up.

The first two options are not satisfactory. If you throw away your dirty tool, you have to go buy a new one. If you continue to work with an unclean tool, the quality of your work will suffer.

It makes sense to protect your tools and keep them in good working order ready for the next day’s work.

Historical context

Taking care of tools and cleaning mortar and concrete residues has been a necessity throughout the ages.

“Old Stone Age” people definitely cleaned their utensils of blood after a day’s slaughter. (Sorry to mention the carnage, but these were hunting days.) Large pebbles found at the river’s edge were cut to make early tools, and these waters are likely where they were washed. It can be assumed that even 40,000 years ago, people chose to care for the tools they made rather than throw them away.

What’s more, mortar—the elastic substance used to join parts—has been an improvement in construction since 6500 BC. This mud and clay tactic was replaced around 500 BC when the Greeks discovered that pozzolana (volcanic ash from around Pozzuoli, Italy) created a better bond when mixed with lime and water.

Before the 1st century mother, the Romans strengthened the formula by changing the aggregate (from fine to coarse) with lime and water. Their results were Roman mortar (with sand) and Roman concrete (with crushed stone), which streamlined the construction process.

The construction of the Colosseum is a great example, although it took 10 years (70-80 CE) to complete. It was restored in the 1800s and recently in 2016. Repairing such a massive structure meant that many masonry tools and equipment were lined up to clean up the details.

Portland cement (PC or cement), named after the English island of Portland, gained popularity in the 1800s. This powdered limestone addition set faster and stronger and soon became the norm. The proportions of PC and various aggregates make up the concrete, mortar, plaster, plaster and plaster used today.

Cleaning products

After working with these materials, it is important to remove concrete and mortar from extraneous areas and tools. Extraneous areas can mean concrete smears or spatters where they shouldn’t be. Although the best way to clean excess from tools is to wipe them while they are still wet, this is not always possible. However, there are ways to get rid of thick concrete and mortar.

Safety first

If you use any of these methods, take precautions. Remember your personal protective equipment or personal protective equipment. Be sure to wear safety glasses and gloves when handling acids or solvents. Nitrile materials are strong and flexible.

Mechanical methods

First, the physical route. Tools work very well to remove chunks of hardened cement. But what about large equipment and vehicles?

Although care can be taken to avoid damaging surfaces with a wire brush, it is best to avoid this method when removing excess concrete from scratch-prone material. For example, glass or paint.

Pressure washing can be an unnecessary burden.

I once read on a forum how a mason rubbed his dirty trowel in the sand during the day. One respondent agreed, until he saw that the feral cats were treating his pile like one big litter box. In other words, be sanitary.

Chemical types

Several household acids can be effective at breaking down concrete and mortar, including hydrochloric acid and vinegar. However, high concentrations are often required. Beware that generic muiatic acid often contains metal contaminants and is potent. It must be diluted.

WARNING: Slowly add the acid to the bucket of water and not the other way around. You don’t want to spoil the chemical. More importantly, you don’t want the concentrate to splash and hurt you or anyone/things.

When satisfied, rinse off with plenty of water and be ready to touch up the area. Using such strong homemade mixes often produces spotty results, but it gets the job done. Well, sort of.

Patented products

Retired mason-educator-writer Dick Kreh describes the patented product in his dictionary as

“a patented, copyrighted, or trademarked chemical compound used to clean masonry.”

Today, many solutions are safer and more effective. Different cleaners solve specific problems and take different factors into account. Examples of some of the differences are listed below:


  • New construction

  • Concrete repair

  • Historical restoration


  • A brick

  • Stone

  • Disc

Characteristic feature

  • Colour

  • Glaze

  • Texture

The problem

  • Efflorescence (white salty deposits) on exterior masonry walls

  • Hardened cement on tools, equipment, vehicles and auxiliary surfaces

  • Smoke stains on a brick chimney

Identify the problem and then fix it by cleaning as gently as possible. It may be wise to use a manufactured and tried-and-true product rather than settle for a cheap homemade measure.

All cleaning is basic.

According to cleaning guru Don Aslett, any cleaning involves the following steps:

“eliminate, saturate, dissolve and remove.”

This means you get rid of loose debris, apply the cleaner to the dirty area, wait for it to work, and remove what’s left.

Concrete Solvent (CD)

In general, here is the above 4-step procedure using concrete solvent:

  1. Wipe away as much loose material as possible. No need to agitate. Just wait for the solution to work its magic in the third step.

  2. Cover the stained area with the diluted concentrate. Spray on or use a nylon brush (brush and bucket method). Some concrete solvents foam on the spot and do not work.

  3. Let the mixture stand (sit for a while). Say, 15-20 minutes. Allow sufficient time for the chemical to penetrate and separate the cement bond. Do not let the mixture dry. Apply again if necessary.

  4. Rinse off the leftover pasta.

This is the process in a nutshell.

Examples from real life

Concrete solvent will break down all Portland cement products. Here are two examples from our experience:

Power tool: Wet saw

  • We rent out a wet saw and a table with diamond blades to customers to cut tiles and so on.

  • When it is returned, the saw and body will be covered with dried plaster dust. Splashes are all over the place.

  • We spray the entire device with concrete solvent (already diluted) and let it stand as long as possible without letting the solution dry. The foaming effect before drying seems to increase dwell time.

  • After the petrified material liquefies and becomes a mush, we rinse it off with water sprayed from the nozzle of the garden hose. We make sure all the residue is gone.

  • Then we spray WD-40 on a rag and wipe the whole thing off for a final clean. We look at all moving parts like bolts and fittings and apply 321 oil as needed using a grease gun.

  • Finally, we put the wet saw kit away safely to be stored and ready for next time.

NOTE. For this job, we prefer to grab our already diluted CD with an easy-to-spray cap bottle. Always use precautions. In this case, wear personal protective equipment and never clean power tools while they are plugged in.

Hand tool: masonry trowel

  • When working on masonry with hand tools, confusion can occur.

  • We try to clean up, but we can’t always prevent the build-up. At the end of the day, we rattle off hand tools to loosen any possible chunks of mortar or concrete.

  • Next, we dip our crusted tools into a bath of diluted concrete solvent in a plastic tub. After about 30 minutes, we take them out and rinse off the residue, if any.

  • Finally we wipe them down to finish cleaning with WD40 metal cleaner to help with rust.

NOTE: For this job, we prefer to keep a larger container of CD concentrate on hand and dilute it ourselves. We fill the plastic tub with a dilution ratio of 4:1. It’s four parts water and then we add one part CD to it.

Solvent properties of concrete

  • Biodegradable (molecular structure derived from sugar cane)

  • Liquid (color varies by manufacturer)

  • Less corrosive (to metals, e.g. aluminum, copper, stainless steel)

  • There are no fumes

  • There are no smells

  • Flushes with water (weakens its effectiveness)

  • Safe on auxiliary surfaces (except concrete as it breaks down cementing agents) NOTE. Suitable for paint, plastic, wooden surfaces and more. Ask an expert if unsure.

  • VOC compliant (meets VOC regulations)

  • Options: Pre-diluted solution, spray cap, various sizes (from 22 fl. oz. to 55 gallon drum and custom containers), foam solution (not liquid)

Other points

I will use the example of washing a car to illustrate the aspects of concrete solvent (CD). The abbreviation CE stands for car example. The materials, equipment, and cleaning agents may be different for CE and CD, but the mindset is the same.

  • Read the instructions – on the CD package and in the MSDS (material safety data sheet). Follow the precautions. This means you must be prepared for personal protective equipment by wearing safety gear. Keep first aid handy.

  • Organize the work area – Where will you set up a (cleaning) shop? CE: Before washing the car, you know where you are working and the materials are nearby.

  • See Climate control – Be aware of hot and cold temperatures. CE: You wait for a temperate day to wash your car. Too hot and the solution may cook. Too cold and the solution may freeze. The same applies to external masonry.

  • Dilute the concentrate – Some CDs are already diluted. If not, follow the product instructions for proportions.

  • Do not rinse first – Concrete thinner does not work in water. Let it sit and then rinse, not the other way around.

  • Trial run – Test an inconspicuous area first.

  • Straighten and preserve – Value others in your life and cooperation. Clean up your cleaning area and supplies. Close the CD cap and keep the container away from pets and children. CE: You always clean up after washing the car. You put your car washes away, clean and store them safely until you need to use them again.

  • Ask for advice – Talk to your local construction supplier or tool dealer about how to keep your masonry tools and equipment in good condition. Ask them about the CD, how to use it, and any questions or concerns you may have.

  • Common sense – Always use it.

Cleaning is a building best practice.

Before the actual masonry work begins, prepare for cleaning. Emphasize its importance in the phases of your project when:

  • Planning (cleaning as a factor to consider)

  • Building (cleaning continues during operation if possible)

  • Cleaning (cleaning every day, once a week, after the end of the project)

Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a contractor, masonry is a messy job, and cleanup needs to be a variable in your thought process. Indeed, cleaning is an aspect of vocational training. Apprentices are taught to clean their areas, including the tools and equipment they use.

The non-profit organization World Skills recommends it in concrete construction

“The individual must know and understand the purpose, uses, care, maintenance and storage of tools, equipment and materials” and “the individual must be able to plan the work area to maximize efficiency and maintain the discipline of orderly tidying.”

Masonry textbooks organize tasks strategically as follows:

  • Purpose (which result the student should achieve)

  • Materials (what tools, equipment and accessories are used)

  • Procedures (what steps do the students take to complete the task)

Instructors also share their experiences and provide guidance. And students are evaluated for their work.

Treat your tool maintenance the same way: Aim for “A”.

Final word

Prior knowledge of the past year and technical improvements affect us every day. Why not take the work out of cleaning masonry when there is a better way?

Concrete dissolver melts hardened mortar and concrete from your tools and equipment. It’s plain and simple.

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