Concrete Countertop Series #7: Be Carefull, Cement Burns!

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Blog entry by Siegel_KenEvil posted 12-09-2010 10:00 PM 3046 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Concrete Curing Part 7 of Concrete Countertop Series series Part 8: Molds Removed - Top Surface is Exposed »

I ended up in the hospital last night after 4 days of agony.
“When traditional Portland cement is mixed with water the dissolution of calcium, sodium and potassium hydroxides produces a highly alkaline solution (pH 13): gloves, goggles and a filter mask should be used for protection, and hands should be washed after contact as most cement can cause acute ulcerative damage 8–12 hours after contact if skin is not washed promptly. The reaction of cement dust with moisture in the sinuses and lungs can also cause a chemical burn as well as headaches, fatigue, and lung cancer. The development of formulations of cement that include fast-reacting pozzolans such as silica fume as well as some slow-reacting products such as fly ash have allowed for the production of comparatively low-alkalinity cements (pH 11) that are much less toxic and which have become widely commercially available, largely replacing high-pH formulations in much of the United States. Once any cement sets, the hardened mass loses chemical reactivity and can be safely touched without gloves.”

I did use gloves and dust masks the day of the pour but I didn’t anticipate other ways cement can get on your skin. I have a nice burn to the left of my mouth where my dirty glove came into contact with my face as I dragged my finger down to scrape off my dust mask.

It gets worse… way worse. I have my concrete filled form in my foyer so that it remains a suitable temperature for curing. One of the first things I do when I wake up is check on my baby (the sink) and then I might climb back into bed to play on the computer. My bare feet carried concrete dust back into my bed. Not enough dust to burn normal skin but enough to burn sensitive skin. Yep, that’s what I’m talking about. My “unit” is completely swollen. All of it. The symptoms started showing up Monday morning. I kept trying to cure myself using vinegar and different anti-itch lotions but the damage was already done. Last night I woke up at 1:30 AM and had enough. It was unbearable so I drove myself to the hospital.

I’m doing better now but still uncomfortable. I can’t wait till I’m looking back on this experience and laughing about it. Right now, it’s not that funny.

-- Scott

11 comments so far

View chrisstef's profile


17387 posts in 3007 days

#1 posted 12-09-2010 10:21 PM

Silica will do it to ya. Ive had my share of concrete “burns” from cutting concrete, and getting the slurry all over me when they let me have fun in the field. Can’t say i ever roasted the old brat and potatoes with it though. Hopefully you feel better soon, oh and thanks for the chuckle (more like a belly laugh), sorry to laugh at your expense.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Siegel_KenEvil's profile


114 posts in 2839 days

#2 posted 12-09-2010 11:15 PM

Wanna laugh harder? The doctors were convinced it was caused from a STD so they did a full check out. Two swabs right down the barrel. I don’t even like thinking about it let alone experiencing it.

For the record and for all the single lady Lumberjocks, I’m clean.

-- Scott

View Cantputjamontoast's profile


416 posts in 3433 days

#3 posted 12-09-2010 11:39 PM

I would sue the doctors for attempting to go up an exit ramp on a hunch that I had something like that.

-- "Not skilled enough to wipe jam on toast!"

View Cantputjamontoast's profile


416 posts in 3433 days

#4 posted 12-09-2010 11:48 PM

I have been loosely following this. I wish I had known that you did not know about the burns.

I worked at a precast plant for 8 years.

You don’t have enough mass there to generate much heat from the concrete. You don’t have to baby it as much as you are doing.

if you can find some burlap or very cheap cotton cloth you can soak that to provide curing moisture. You poured the fininshed surface down which is great. We poured our bridge decks down in form. The concrete on the bottom of an 8’ slab can be as much as 5 times as dense as the stuff on top.

You won’thave to worry about freeze thaw like on a bridge deck but you have the best concrete on the bottom.

-- "Not skilled enough to wipe jam on toast!"

View chrisstef's profile


17387 posts in 3007 days

#5 posted 12-10-2010 03:22 AM

Aww man seigel … rough go on that one, no laughter this time that induced a wince outta me brother. On the right side …. clean bill of health!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3292 days

#6 posted 12-10-2010 03:42 AM

I was on a jobsite once, near a concrete pump, and got a tiny little blob from a splash right on my eye. It came from the side and went behind my glasses. Instant, incapacitating pain and blindness. Luckily, there were plenty of tears to wash it out.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View sras's profile


4799 posts in 3130 days

#7 posted 12-10-2010 03:45 AM

I just commented on your next post about how much I am enjoying your story. I had not read this post!! Sorry to hear of this – hope you heal quickly.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3786 days

#8 posted 12-10-2010 03:56 AM

I have been reading your blog on making the sink. I came across this and (had to laugh) been there done that three times. But i’ll pass on the STD check. If its anything like a cathater… all I can do is squirm.
But when the boys are looking like a HUGE RED RASH, lol time to go get them steroids to get rid of it.
Good luck with the rest of your venture.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Siegel_KenEvil's profile


114 posts in 2839 days

#9 posted 12-10-2010 04:23 AM

Thanks Jim, they gave me steroids and I thought it was BS. I wasn’t going to use it but I’m glad you’ve heard of it. ...lathering up right now.

-- Scott

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2881 days

#10 posted 12-10-2010 06:03 AM

Cement is some nasty stuff. I did flat work for a summer where I learned the trade. It’s not difficult to learn, mud is heavy and wet. Let the truck do the work spreading it. Just need to level it and smooth it. I wore gloves and my hands would dry and crack from the cement. Hands get wet even with gloves on. Never was so strong as that summer.

However, I never got any cement dust where you did. Steroids are anti-inflammatory so that makes sense.

I recommend wearing pajamas….

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2839 days

#11 posted 12-10-2010 08:31 PM

Sorry, but I can’t stop laughing! Maybe keep some extra strength hydrocortisone cream around for the next time. :) hehehehe

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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