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ACI Method of Concrete Mix Design

Required Data:
Before starting concrete mix design, basic information on raw materials shall be prepared
which include:
 Sieve analyses of fine and coarse aggregates.
 Unit weight (dry rodded density) of coarse aggregate.
 Bulk specific gravities and absorptions or moisture content of aggregates.
 Mixing-water requirements of concrete developed from experience with available
 Specific gravities of Portland cement and other cementitious materials, if used.
 Relationships between strength and water-cement ratio or ratio of water-to-cement
plus other cementitious materials, for available combinations of cements, other
cementitious materials if considered, and aggregates.

Procedure for ACI Method of Concrete Mix Design

1. Choice of slump
If slump is not specified, a value appropriate for the work can be selected from Table 1.
The values provided in table can be used only when vibration is used to consolidate
Table 1. Recommended slumps for various types of construction

Slump value, mm
Construction type
Minimum Maximum*

Reinforced foundation walls and footings 25 75

Plain footings, caissons, and substructure walls 25 75

Beams and reinforced walls 25 100

Building columns 25 100

Pavements and slabs 25 75

Mass concrete 25 50

*May increased 25mm for methods of consolidation other than vibration

Fig. 1. Measuring slump

2. Choice of maximum size of aggregate

Commonly, maximum aggregate size should be the largest that is economically available
and consistent with dimensions of structural element. ACI 211.1-91 specify that,
maximum aggregate size shall not surpass:
 One-fifth of the narrowest dimension between sides of forms.
 one-third the depth of slabs
 3/4-ths of the minimum clear spacing between individual reinforcing bars, bundles of
bars, or pre-tensioning strands.
These limitations may be ignored provided that workability and methods of consolidation
are such that the concrete can be placed without honeycomb or void.

Fig. 2. Coarse aggregate

3. Estimation of mixing water and air content

The quantity of water per unit volume of concrete required to produce a given slump is
dependent on:
 nominal maximum size
 particle shape
 grading of the aggregates
 concrete temperature
 amount of entrained air
 use of chemical admixtures.
Table 2 and Table 3 provide estimates of required mixing water for concrete made with
various maximum sizes of aggregate, for non-air and air-entrainment concrete,
Table 2. Approximate mixing water (Kg/m3) and air content for different slumps and
nominal maximum sizes of aggregates for non-air content concrete

Water, Kg/m3 of concrete for indicated

nominal maximum sizes of aggregate
Slump, mm
9.5 12.5 19 25 37.5 50 75 150
mm mm mm mm mm mm mm mm

25-50 207 199 190 179 166 154 130 113

75-100 228 216 205 193 181 169 145 124

150-175 243 228 216 202 190 178 160 —-

Approximate Air
3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0.3 0.2
content Quantity, %

Table 3. Approximate mixing water (Kg/m3) and air content for different slumps and
nominal maximum sizes of aggregates for air content concrete

Water, Kg/m3 of concrete for indicated

nominal maximum sizes of aggregate
Slump, mm
9.5 12.5 19 25 37.5 50 75 150
mm mm mm mm mm mm mm mm

25-50 181 175 168 160 150 142 122 107

75-100 202 193 184 175 165 157 133 119

150-175 216 205 197 184 174 166 154 —-

Recommended average total air content (%) for different level of exposure

Mild exposure 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1

Moderate exposure 6 5.5 5 4.5 4.5 4 3.5 3

Severe exposure 7.5 7 6 6 5.5 5 4.5 4

Fig. 3. mixing water

4. Selection of water-cement or water-cementitious material ratio

Strength, durability, and determine water to cement ratio:Without strength vs. w/c ratio
data for a certain material, a conservative estimate can be made for the accepted 28-day
compressive strength from Table 4.
Additionally, if there are severe exposure conditions, such as freezing and thawing,
exposure to seawater, or sulfates, the w/c ratio can be obtained from table 5.
Table 4. Relationship between water-cement or water-cementitious materials ratio
and compressive strength of concrete

Water cement ratio by weight

28-days compressive strength in MPa (psi)
Non-air entrained Air entrained

41.4 (6000) 0.41 —

34.5 (5000) 0.48 0.40

27.6 (4000) 0.57 0.48

20.7 (3000) 0.68 0.59

13.8 (2000) 0.82 0.74

Table 5. Maximum permissible water/cement ratios for concrete in severe exposure

Structure wet continuously of Structure

Types of structure frequently exposed to freezing exposed to
and thawing seawater

Thin sections (railings, curbs, sills, ledges,

ornamental work) and sections with less 0.45 0.40
than 25mm cover over steel

All other structures 0.50 0.45

Fig. 4. water to cement ratio

5. Calculation of cement content

The amount of cement is fixed by the determinations made in Steps 3 and 4 above.

Fig.5. Cement

6. Estimation of coarse aggregate content

The most economical concrete will have as much as possible space occupied by coarse
aggregate since it will require no cement in the space filled by coarse aggregate.
The percent of coarse aggregate to concrete for a given maximum size and fineness
modulus is given by Table 6. Coarse aggregate volumes are based on oven-dry rodded
weights obtained in accordance with ASTM C 29.
Table 6. Volume of coarse aggregate per unit of volume of concrete

fineness moduli of fine aggregate

Maximum aggregate size, mm
2.40 2.60 2.80 3

9.5 0.50 0.48 0.46 0.44

12.5 0.59 0.57 0.55 0.53

19 0.66 0.64 0.62 0.60

25 0.71 0.69 0.67 0.65

37.5 0.75 0.73 0.71 0.69

50 0.78 0.76 0.74 0.72

Fig. 6. Coarse aggregate

7. Estimation of fine aggregate content

At the completion of Step 6, all ingredients of the concrete have been estimated except
the fine aggregate.
There are two standard methods to establish the fine aggregate content, the mass
method and the volume method. the “volume” method will be used because it is a
somewhat more exact procedure.
The volume of fine aggregates is found by subtracting the volume of cement, water, air,
and coarse aggregate from the total concrete volume.
Then once the volumes known the weights of each ingredient can be calculated from the
specific gravities.
The volume occupied in concrete by any ingredient is equal to its weight divided by the
density of that material (the latter being the product of the unit weight of water and the
specific gravity of the material).

Fig.7. Fine aggregate

8. Adjustments for aggregate moisture

Aggregate weights
Aggregate volumes are computed based on oven dry unit weights, but aggregate is
typically batched based on actual weight.
Therefore, any moisture in the aggregate will increase its weight and stockpiled
aggregates almost always contain some moisture. Without correcting for this, the
batched aggregate volumes will be incorrect.
Amount of mixing water
If the batched aggregate is anything but saturated surface dry it will absorb water (if oven
dry or air dry) or give up water (if wet) to the cement paste.
This causes a net change in the amount of water available in the mix and must be
compensated for by adjusting the amount of mixing water added.

Fig.8. aggregate water content

9. Trial Batch Adjustments

The ACI method is written on the basis that a trial batch of concrete will be prepared in
the laboratory, and adjusted to give the desired slump, freedom from segregation,
finishability, unit weight, air content and strength.