Can concrete catch fire?

Concrete is a non-flammable material and cannot catch fire by itself. Of course, its surface can burn, e.g. when it is covered with a flammable material – fuel, varnish or plastic, etc. Nevertheless, concrete alone is not combustible in the same manner as, among others, wood.
This does not mean, however, that it is completely resistant to the effects of fire. True, a concrete wall provides excellent protection against flames, but, unfortunately, it can also get pretty hot. The less free space filled with air there is in such concrete, the better it transfers heat, which means that it heats up faster. This is why autoclaved aerated concrete is so popular. Due to the presence of empty space inside of it, it has good thermal insulation properties and, at the same time, heats up much slower than traditional solid reinforced concrete.
Furthermore, let us not forget about the issue of fire resistance. Concrete does not burn, but high temperatures will surely have a negative impact on its structural properties, in particular in its surface zones. This is caused by the presence of traditional aggregate, which increases its volume significantly in temperatures exceeding 500°C. Because of that basalt, pumice or diabase aggregates are, for example, used to manufacture fireproof and heatproof concrete, since they withstand high temperatures much better. Furthermore, special ceramic reinforcements are placed in the concrete, which increase its durability in high temperatures (exceeding, e.g., 1000°C.)


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