Materiales de Construcción, Vol 67, No 325 (2017)

A review of sample preparation and its influence on pH determination in concrete samples

S. Manso
Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain

A. Aguado
Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain


If we are to monitor the chemical processes in cementitious materials, then pH assays in the pore solutions of cement pastes, mortars, and concretes are of key importance. However, there is no standard method that regulates the sample-preparation method for pH determination. The state-of-the-art of different methods for pH determination in cementitious materials is presented in this paper and the influence of sample preparation in each case. Moreover, an experimental campaign compares three different techniques for pH determination. Its results contribute to establishing a basic criterion to help researchers select the most suitable method, depending on the purpose of the research. A simple tool is described for selecting the easiest and the most economic pH determination method, depending on the objective; especially for researchers and those with limited experience in this field.


pH; Concrete; Mortar; Cement paste; Pore solution

Full Text:



Yosipovitch, G.; Xiong, G.L.; Haus, E.; Sackett-Lundeen, L.; Ashkenazi, I.; Maibach, H.I. (1998) Time- Dependent Variations of the Skin Barrier Function in Humans: Transepidermal Water Loss, Stratum Corneum Hydration, Skin Surface pH, and Skin Temperature. J. Invest. Allerg. Clin. 110(1):20–23.

Rousk, J.; Brookes, P.C.; Bååth, E. (2009) Contrasting Soil pH Effects on Fungal and Bacterial Growth Suggest Functional Redundancy in Carbon Mineralization. Appl. Environ. Microb. 75(6):1589–1596. PMid:19151179 PMCid:PMC2655475

Van der Schueren, L.; De Clerck, K. (2011) pH-sensitive textile sensors with possible use as wound dressings. European Congress and Exhibition on Advanced Materials and Processes. 12–15 September. Montpellier, France.

Barneyback, R.S.; Diamond, S. (1981) Expression and analysis of pore fluids from hardened cement pastes and mortars. Cem. Concr. Res. 11:279–285.

Aguilera, J.; Blanco-Varela, M.T.; Martínez-Ramírez, S. (2003) Thermodynamic modelling of the CaO-SiO2- CaCO3-H2O closed and open system at 25 ºC. Mater. Construcc. 53(270):35–43.

Iyengar, S.R.; Al-Tabbaa, A. (2007) Development Study of a low-pH Magnesium Phosphate Cement for Environmental Applications. Environ. Technol.

Chen, J.J.; Thomas, J.J.; Jennings, H.M. (2006) Decalcification shrinkage of cement paste. Cem. Concr. Res. 36:801–809.

Hobbs, D.W. (1988) Carbonation of concrete containing pfa. Mag. Concrete Res. 40(143):69–78.

Carde, C.; François, R. (1999) Modelling the loss of strength and porosity increase due to the leaching of cement pastes. Cem. Concr. Res. 21:181–188.

Mainguy, M.; Tognazzi, C.; Torrenti, J.M.; Adenot, F. (2000) Modelling of leaching in pure cement paste and mortar. Cem. Concr. Res. 30:83–90.

Neville, A. (2004) The confused world of sulphate attack on concrete, Review. Cem. Concr. Res. 34:1275–1296.

Rozière, E.; Loukili, A.; El Hachem, R.; Grondin, F. (2009) Durability of concrete exposed to leaching and external sulphate attack. Cem. Concr. Res. 39:1188–1198.

Grubb, J.A.; Limaye, H.S.; Kakade, A.M. (2007) Testing pH of concrete, need for a standard procedure. Concr. Int. 29(4):78–83.

AENOR (2006) EN 14630 Products and systems for the protection and repair of concrete structures - Test methods - Determination of carbonation depth in hardened concrete by the phenolphthalein method.

Garcia-Lodeiro, I.; Palomo, J.G.; Palomo, A.; Fernández- Jiménez, A. (2014) A statistical approach to the study of concrete carbonation. Mater. Construcc. 64(313).

Bertron, A.; Duchesne, J.; Escadeillas, G. (2005) Accelerated tests of hardened cement pastes alteration by organic acids: analysis of the pH effect. Cem. Concr. Res. 35(1):155–166.

Bertron, A.; Larreur-Cayol, S.; Le, T.M.T.; Escadeillas, G. (2009) Degradation of cementitious materials by some organic acids found in agroindustrial effluents. In: Concrete in aggressive aqueous environments – Performance, Testing and Modelling. Pp: 96–107. ISBN: 978-2-35158-082-0.

McPolin, D.; Basheer, P.; Long, A.; Grattan, K.; Sun, T. (2007) New Test Method to Obtain pH Profiles due to Carbonation of Concretes Containing Supplementary Cementitious Materials. J. Mater. Civ. Eng. 19(11):936–946.

Krajei, L.; Janotka, I. (2000) Measurement Techniques for Rapid Assessment of Carbonation in Concrete. ACI Mater. J. 97(2):168-171.

Yu, M.; Lee, J.; Chung, C. (2010) The Application of Various Indicators for the Estimation of Carbonation and pH of Cement Based Materials. J. Test. Eval. 38(5).

Dwivedi, V.N.; Singh, N.P.; Das, S.S.; Singh, N.B. (2006) A new pozzolanic material for cement industry: Bamboo leaf ash. Int. J. Phys. Sci. 1(3): 106–111.

Knopf, F.C.; Roy, A.; Samrow, H.A.; Dooley, K.M. (1999) High-Pressure Molding and Carbonation of Cementitious Materials. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 38(7):2641–2649.

Gilbeau, B.P.; Harry, F.P.; Gambrell, R.P.; Knopf, F.C.; Dooley, K.M. (2003) Algae attachment on carbonated cements in fresh and brackish waters – preliminary results. Ecol. Eng. 20(4): 309–319.

Massler, M.; Mansukhani, N. (1960) Testing liners under cements in vitro. J. Prosthet. Dent. 10(5): 964–975.

Ericsson, D.; Bratthall, D. (1989) Simplified method to stimulate salivary buffer capacity. Eur. J. Oral. Sci. 97(5): 405–407.

Islander, R.; Devinny, J.; Mansfeld, F.; Postyn, A.; Shih, H. (1991) Microbial Ecology of Crown Corrosion in Sewers. J. Environ. Eng. 117(6): 751–770.

Yesiladal, S.K.; Pekin, G.; Bermek, H.; Arslan-Alaton, I.; Orhon, D.; Tamerler, C. (2006) Bioremediation of textile azo dyes by Trichophyton rubrum LSK-27. World J. Microb. Biot. 22: 1027–1031.

Matinlinna, J.P.; Lassila, L.V.J.; Vallittu, P.K. (2006) Evaluation of five dental silanes on bonding a luting cement onto silica-coated titanium. J. Dent. 34(9): 721–726. PMid:16513239

De Muynck, W.; De Belie, N.; Verstraete, W. (2009) Effectiveness of admixtures, surface treatments and antimicrobial compounds against biogenic sulfuric acid corrosion of concrete. Cem. Concr. Comp. 31: 163–170.

Maury-Ramírez, A.; De Muynck, W.; Stevens, R.; Demeestere, K.; De Belie, N. (2013) Titanium dioxide based strategies to prevent algal fouling on cementitious materials. Cem. Concr. Comp. 36: 93–100.

ASTM International (2008) F710-08 Standard Practice for Preparing Concrete Floors to Receive Resilient Flooring.

Longuet, P.; Burglen, L.; Zelwer, A. (1973) La phase liquide du ciment hydraté. Rev. Mater. Constr. 676: 35-41.

Song, S.; Jennings, H.M. (1999) Pore solution chemistry of alkali-activated ground granulated blast-furnace slag. Cem. Concr. Res. 29(2): 159–170.

Ramlochan, T.; Thomas, M.; Gruber, K.A. (2000) The effect of metakaolin on alkali-silica reaction in concrete. Cem. Concr. Res. 30(3): 339-344.

Zhang, Y.M.; Sun, W.; Yan, H.D. (2000) Hydration of highvolume fly ash cement pastes. Cem. Concr. Res. 22(6): 445–452.

Collier, N.C.; Milestone, N.B.; Gordon, L.E.; Ko, S.C. (2014) The suitability of a supersulfated cement for nuclear waste immobilisation. J. Nucl. Mater. 452(1-3): 457–464.

Guerrero, A.; Go-i, S.; Macías, A.; Luxán, M.P. (1999) Mechanical properties, pore size distribution, and pore solution of fly ash-belite cement mortars. Cem. Concr. Res. 29(11): 1753–1758.

Li, L.; Sagües, A.A.; Poor, N. (1999) In situ leaching investigation of pH and nitrite concentration in concrete pore solution. Cem. Concr. Res. 29(3): 315–321.

Lorenzo, M.P.; Go-i, S.; Guerrero, A. (2003) Role of aluminous component of fly ash on the durability of Portland cement-fly ash pastes in marine environment. Waste Manage. 23(8): 785–792.

Li, L.; Nam, J.; Hartt, W.H. (2005) Ex situ leaching measurement of concrete alkalinity. Cem. Concr. Res. 35(2): 277–283.

Pu, Q.; Jiang, L.; Xu, J.; Chu, H.; Xu, Y.; Zhang, Y. (2012) Evolution of pH and chemical composition of pore solution in carbonated concrete. Constr. Build. Mater. 28(1): 519–524.

Constantiner, D.; Diamond, S. (1997) Pore solution analysis: Are there pressure effects? In: Mechanisms of Chemical Degradation of Cement-based Systems. London. ISBN: 0419215700.

Mori, T.; Nonaka, T.; Tazaki, K.; Koga, M.; Hikosaka, Y.; Noda, S. (1992) Interactions of nutrients, moisture and pH on microbial corrosion of concrete sewer pipes. Water. Res. 26(1): 29–37.

Räsänen, V.; Penttala, V. (2004) The pH measurement of concrete and smoothing mortar using a concrete powder suspension. Cem. Concr. Res. 34(5):813-820.

Wang, K.; Mishulovich, A.; Shah, S. (2007) Activations and Properties of Cementitious Materials Made with Cement-Kiln Dust and Class F Fly Ash. J. Mater. Civ. Eng. 19(SPECIAL ISSUE): Geochemical Aspects of Stabilized Materials: 112–119.

Song, H.W.; Saraswathy, V.; Muralidharan, S.; Lee, C.H.; Thangavel, K. (2009) Role of alkali nitrites in the corrosion performance of steel in composite cements. J. Appl. Electrochem. 39: 15–22.

Webster, M.; Loehr, R. (1996) Long-Term Leaching of Metals from Concrete Products. J. Environ. Eng. 122(8): 714–721.

Ha-Won, S.; Min-Sun, J.; Chang-Hong, L.; Sang-Hyo, K.; Ki Yong, A. (2010) Influence of Chemistry of Chloride Ions in Cement Matrix on corrosion of Steel. ACI Mater. J. July-August: 332–339.

Gowripalan, N.; Mohamed, H.M. (1998) Chlorideion induced corrosion of galvanized and ordinary steel reinforcement in high-performance concrete. Cem. Concr. Res. 28(8): 1119–1131.

Paglia, C.; Wombacher, F.; Böhni, H.; Sommer, M. (2002) An evaluation of the sulphate resistance of cementitious material accelerated with alkali-free and alkaline admixtures: Laboratory vs. Field. Cem. Concr. Res. 32(4): 665–671.

Garrabrants, A.C.; Sanchez, F.; Kosson, D.S. (2004) Changes in constituent equilibrium leaching and pore water characteristics of a Portland cement mortar as a result of carbonation. Waste Manage. 24(1): 19-36.

Dinakar, P.; Babu, K.G.; Santhanam, M. (2007) Corrosion behaviour of blended cements in low and medium strength concretes. Cem. Concr. Comp. 29(2): 136–145.

Ottosen, L.M. and Rörig-Daalgard, I. (2009) Desalination of a brick by application of an electric DC field. Mater. Struct. 42: 963–971.

Björk, F.; Eriksson, C.A. (2002) Measurement of alkalinity in concrete by a simple procedure, to investigate transport alkaline material from concrete slab to a self-levelling screed. Constr. Build. Mater. 16(8): 535–542.

Engelsen, C.J.; van der Sloot, H.A.; Wibetoe, G.; Justnes, H.; Lund, W.; Stoltenberg-Hansson, E. (2010) Leaching characterisation and geochemical modelling of minor and trace elements released from recycled concrete aggregates. Cem. Concr. Res. 40(12): 1639–1649.

Abd El Aleem, S.; Heikal, M.; Morsi, W.M. (2014) Hydration characteristic, thermal expansion and microstructure of cement containing nano-silica. Constr. Build. Mater. 59: 151–160.

Manso, S.; Mestres, G.; Ginebra, M.P.; De Belie, N.; Segura, I.; Aguado, A. (2014) Development of a low pH cementitious material to enlarge bioreceptivity. Constr. Build. Mater. 54: 485–495.

Manso, S.; De Muynck, W.; Segura, I.; Aguado, A.; Steppe, K.; Boon, N.; De Belie, N. (2014) Bioreceptivity evaluation of cementitious materials designed to stimulate biological growth. Sci. Total Environ. 481: 232–241. PMid:24602907

Pavlík, V. (2000) Water extraction of chloride, hydroxide and other ions from hardened cement pastes. Cem. Concr. Res. 30(6): 895–906.

Sagües, A.A.; Moreno, E.I.; Andrade, C. (1997) Evolution of pH during in-situ leaching in small concrete cavities. Cem. Concr. Res. 27(11): 1747–1759.

Cáseres, L.; Sagües, A.A.; Kranc, S.C.; Weyers, R.E. (2006) In situ leaching method for determination of chloride in concrete pore water. Cem. Concr. Res. 36(3): 492–503.

Ehrich, S.; Helard, L.; Letourneux, R.; Willocq, J.; Bock, E. (1999) Biogenic and Chemical Sulfuric Acid Corrosion of Mortars. J. Mater. Civ. Eng. 11(4): 340–344.

Roberts, D.J.; Nica, D.; Zuo, G.; Davis, J.L. (2002) Quantifying microbially induced deterioration of concrete: initial studies. Int. Biodeter. Biodegr. 49(4): 227–234.

Okabe, S.; Odagiri, M.; Ito, T.; Satoh, H. (2007) Succession of Sulfur-Oxidizing Bacteria in the Microbial Community on Corroding Concrete in Sewer Systems. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 73(3): 971–980. PMid:17142362 PMCid:PMC1800771

Heng, M.; Murata, K. (2004) Aging of concrete buildings and determining the pH value on the surface of concrete by using a handy semi-conductive pH-meter. Anal. Sci. 20(7):1087–1090.

Rostami, V.; Shao, Y.; Boyd, A. (2011) Durability of concrete pipes subjected to combined steam and carbonation curing. Constr. Build. Mater. 25(8):3345–3355.

Rostami, V.; Shao, Y.; Boyd, A.; He, Z. (2012) Microstructure of cement paste subject to early carbonation curing. Cem. Concr. Res. 42(1):186–193.

Shao, Y.; Rostami, V.; He, Z.; Boyd, A.J. (2014) Accelerated Carbonation of Portland Limestone Cement. J. Mater. Civ. Eng. 26(1): 117–124.

AENOR (2005) UNE-EN 196-1. Methods of testing cement - Part 1: Determination of strength.

Taylor, H.F.W. Cement Chemistry. Academic Press Inc. London, 1990. ISBN: 0-12-683900-X.

Copyright (c) 2017 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support