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What is silica sand for in construction?

Arena de sílice

Silica sand is the most common chemical form of the fine granular material, made up of small rocky particles and minerals, which we call sand.

Due to its ubiquity and abundance, it has an extensive history in construction, along with lime, volcanic ash and limestone, important materials for ancient civilizations.

Currently, silica sand has countless uses in construction, as it’s highly useful for making quality concrete and mortars.

Uses of silica sand

Silica is a fundamental component in the manufacture of artificial glass, ceramics and concrete.

Source: paratureforma.com

Below, we mention the main areas and construction activities in which silica sand is usually used:

  • Buildings in general, forming part of mortars, formwork, granite, brick, slate, porcelain, plaster, concrete, ceramic, vitreous fibres, among others.
  • Construction of public works, especially in tunnels, mainly encompassing the use of excavation machinery, pneumatic and electric tools, and concrete pouring.
  • Manual and mechanical demolition of masonry and reinforced concrete structures.
  • Non-slip flooring for industrial use, used in environments with a high risk of chemical spillage.
  • Rehabilitation and maintenance of industrial warehouses, buildings in general and floors.
  • Abrasive cleaning of concrete and other materials through pressurized ejection.
  • Refurbishment work in railway facilities.
  • Transport and unloading coarse and fine aggregates, concrete, among others

The influence of silica on concrete

In order to create higher quality and performance concretes, different ways have been devised to benefit from silica.

One of them is microsilica or silica fume, which are fine, non-crystalline particles of silicon dioxide, produced in electric arc furnaces as a by-product from the production of silicon and its alloys.

The other way is through rice hulls, which are plant tissues composed of cellulose and silica. This material has been mostly used in agriculture, but its use in construction is increasing. It even performs very well as a thermal insulator.

Risks of silica sand in construction

Despite the fact that silica sand is regularly used in constructions of different characteristics, its use carries significant risks, which can seriously affect the health of all those who are involved.

The danger is alarming when working with silica sand in closed and poorly ventilated places, even certain machinery can condition the formation of dust clouds. For this reason, when working on projects that involve the use of this material, preventive measures must be taken into account.

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