How Long Does Cement Last?

Most types of cement with a reduced chrome content last up to 90 days. It only lasts as long as cement is an active ingredient that reacts immediately when in contact with moisture. Cement can last even longer if stored in a dry environment in special bags that don’t retain moisture.

It’s not rare to find cement that can still be used after 5 years if stored correctly (in a dry environment). However, the cement that has been stored for years has lost its proper chemical reaction properties and it may lead to cement that is not up to structural and aesthetic standards.

How Long Does Cement Last?

The cement you can buy in bags typically lasts up to 90 days. Its hygroscopic properties mean cement absorbs moisture. It should be tested if it’s past 90 days in storage even when kept in very dry conditions.

Some people assume cement can last forever. While this is technically true, it’s often not the case. Even when stored indoors in major construction materials stores cement tends to develop ‘lumps’.

Cement shelf life is influenced by its chrome content. To lower the chrome content (considered a substance that irritates) cement manufacturers add a reducing agent to cement. It’s this reducing agent that reacts with air (even dry air) making the cement lose its efficiency and lose its reactivity after 90 days.

If cement looks like it’s made out of lumps it has already retained an amount of water from the air. In some cases, this can be solved by mixing this cement with fresh cement. In other cases, the lumped-up cement has to be discarded.

Does Cement Go Off?

While cement never technically goes off it regularly becomes less useful as it gets in contact with air moisture. After 3 months cement starts to develop lumps inside the bags. Typical paper bags aren’t a great moisture sealant that would prevent high humidity inside the pack.

In short, cement goes off in about 3 months regardless of storage conditions as you cannot guarantee a perfectly dried environment. Both an open and unopened bag of cement tends to go off after 90 days.

What is the typical shelf life of Portland cement?

The typical shelf life of Portland cement is around 90 days, similar to cement produced by the EU. This cement is typically stored in paper bags which are susceptible to atmospheric conditions which influence humidity inside the bag.

How can I extend the shelf life of my cement bags stored at home?

You can technically extend the shelf life of cement, but not by years. Cement bags that have been in storage for 2 years need to be tested for humidity.

  • Use plastic bags

You can put a classic paper cement bag in a plastic bag to try and limit air exposure. Ideally, this would be a vacuum-sealed bag. Since vacuuming cement bags is quite difficult you should ensure the plastic bag holding the cement is air-tight.

Plastic bags can be considered for extending cement shelf life. However, you should not push for years of storage. Simply storing it for years will eventually make the cement lose its binding attributes.

  • Always store cement bags off the ground

Cement can also go off in a week or even days when stored incorrectly. Make sure to store cement bags off the ground, even if you’re storing them inside the house or in the garage.

  • Consider a controlled environment such as a garage with good ventilation

Storing cement indoors is great, but high humidity locations aren’t beneficial for its use-by date. Make sure there’s good ventilation indoors and that no mold is present in the room you’re storing the bags.

Ideally, you’d have an air circulation system that ensures proper airflow. Cement bags can last up to 90 days, but only when stored incorrect conditions.

FAQ

How long does an open bag of cement last?

An open bag of cement can last between a few days and 3 months. It only lasts 90 days when there’s low air humidity. Most of the time certain agents added to the cement react with the air making it’s lost its binding abilities and start retaining water.

Can I use old cement?

You can use old cement as long as it’s not lumpy and if it hasn’t been in storage for more than 90 days. While it can take a long time for the cement to go off when stored in perfect conditions these are rarely guaranteed by storing it at home.

How to store cement at home?

You can store cement off the ground, in its original bags, in properly ventilated areas. This is going to ensure the cement bags last up to 90 days. Even premium brands of commercial cement don’t last longer than 3 months.

What to do with expired cement?

Expired cement can sometimes be mixed with new cement. Make sure you discuss the plans of mixing old cement with new cement with a structural engineer. In other cases, old cement is used for concrete that isn’t designed for a structural role such as garden walks or playground paving.