How Sugar Can Have a Positive Impact on Concrete

February 20, 2023
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The beneficial effects of adding table sugar to concrete, such as retarding its setting time, improving its flowability, increasing its density, reducing the heat generated during hydration, and enhancing its strength, have been studied. The optimal amount of sugar to add and the precautions to take during the concrete construction process have also been investigated. Overall, the results indicate that sugar is a valuable additive for concrete.

Sugar’s concrete uses


  • Concrete delay
  • Flow and compactness improve
  • Cracks from dehydration, heat, and cold
  • Cracks from dehydration, heat, and cold
  • Later Concrete Strengthens


The glucose catalytic principle slows sugar’s action. Sugar has a polyhydroxy molecular formula. Its surface is polar, causing solid-liquid adsorption, and it possesses molecular hydroxyl groups. 

Boost flow and density

In concrete pouring construction, concrete is often too viscous to put into the formwork, such as thin wall sliding framework, thin wall concrete board, concrete water pool, etc. In thin concrete projects, poor flowability and the hard flap will affect construction quality. 

Water pools, grain silos, and cement silos with air-tightness requirements are especially at risk. Increasing water to improve collapsed slumps will impair concrete strength and anti-permeability. Adding sugar solves the problem.

Sugar in concrete
Photo by Rodolfo Quirós on Pexels

Temperature Cracks from Dehydration, Heat, and Cold

In mass concrete construction, temperature fractures commonly form owing to unpredictable temperature differences between the interior and exterior, caused by cement heat hydration. 

Sugar slows tricalcium silicate crystal hydrate conversion, and cement heat slows the hydration process. Reduces hydration heat peak and temperature-caused concrete fractures. The core of mass concrete without sugar reached 70 degrees Celsius in practice. Adding 2% sugar to the cement raised its central temperature to 55°C. Sugar retards and reduces concrete’s hydration heat.

Concrete Strengthens Over Time

Sugar-coated concrete will separate water. Sugar is a water-reducing ingredient group that slows hydration. This improves the concrete’s late strength and results in solid-liquid absorption. 

By adding sugar (0.1% of the cement quantity) and lowering water use by 12%, sugar-added and sugar-free concrete slumps are similar. Sugar (0.1% of cement) reduces water by 10%. As a water-lowering agent can increase the late strength of concrete like other agents (but early strength is relatively low).

Excess Sugar in Concrete

Sugar is cheap and effective, but the dose should be tested. When the sugar quantity is close to or exceeds 0.3% of the cement amount, the collapsing slump will not grow but will increase continually over time. The sugar content should be 0.2% of cement. 0.1 per cent is usually sufficient for building.

Fast water segregation is another aspect.

After adding sugar, water seeps through the concrete. This is like submerging aggregate. Stationary concrete sugars and condenses. If concrete sits stationary for two hours, it’s hard to compress. Concrete viscosity will drop. 

After adding sugar, use the concrete for 2 hours. Otherwise, segregation occurs. When concrete is injected, the stagnation time should be less than 1 hour. Otherwise, it’ll sink and obstruct the pump.

Advice on Adding Sugar to Concrete and Its Effects on Setting Time

To uniformly mix sugar into concrete, add the solution and stir the material. (Concrete water usage must account for sugar solution water.) Sugar can be added to the concrete by mixing water.

Image by rawpixel.com

Concrete vs. Cement

Cement and concrete vary in how they’re made. Concrete is a mixture of cement, sand, aggregate, and water. Cement is made by combining aluminium, iron, silicon, calcium, and other components.

Cement is a binding ingredient in concrete used to cast beams, columns, and slabs.

Cement and water create hydration heat, which helps concrete set and acquire strength.

The chemical composition of cement’s constituents affects its strength. Concrete’s strength comes from a steady water-cement ratio and mix ratio.

Cement production is a difficult process that can only be done in facilities with expert employees, while concrete production is considerably simpler.

Soundness, fineness, specific gravity, initial and final cement time, and consistency tests determine cement qualities. Rebound hammer, Compressive Test, Compaction Factor Test, Strength Test, Slump Test.

Sugar slows concrete setting

Sugar slows concrete’s setting time as a retarder. Adding 0.1% sugar to concrete delays setting by 116 minutes. To postpone the setting time, adjust the sugar value.

Sugars in concrete are “cement destroyers” that increase compressive strength by 22,4%, 19,6%, and 20,3% after 7, 14, and 28 days compared to concrete without sugar. Increasing concrete setting time causes this.

Sugar has no negative impact on concrete, however, 0.06 per cent by weight can delay the initial and final setting by 80 and 110 minutes, respectively.

Sugar’s varied forms affect concrete differently. Like Trehalose, Lactose is a mild concrete retardant. Sucrose is the most retardant sugar molecule.