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Ever heard of Ceramicrete, MgO cement, Magnesium cement Answered

Has anyone ever worked with MgO cement?  Where can buy it in US?

MgO replaces the Ca found in portland cement. MgO cement makes a concrete that will incorporate cellulose and other organics into the crystalline structure. absorbs CO2 instead of generating it, is an order of magnitude stronger than portland, does not require wetting, and cures in minutes. So basically, you can take some burlap or old blanket and paint this stuff on, then fill the void with straw and cement and make super strong, light and thin structures.

I have looked for it locally but it does not seem to be available to consumers in the US, probably because of the lack of sheep crap which is the typical source of Mg. It is amazing stuff.

This is pretty much the only article I could find about the stuff: http://greenhomebuilding.com/articles/ceramicrete.htm


Hi, I've worked with MgO cement. right now my passion is using fabric attached to simple framework, then applying MgO cement.

I'm in the middle of a project that is on hold for a bit, but I can tell you what I've learned so far. I've used much of Michael Collins's suggestions, and some of my own ideas worked in as I've gone along so far.

In a nutshell, am starting by building a simple 19' diameter roundhouse... Bought one big roll of 5' x 150' roll of re-mesh, which can be cut in half, and tied together to make the walls twice as high (1' overlap, 1' sunk into the ground = 8 foot ceilings at the lowest points, the walls).

After digging a foundation trench about 2 feet deep and filling with a drainage tube and gravel, I situated the remesh into place. I used burlap, soaked in diluted MgO cement mix (grancrete) and hung swaths of it from top of the walls to a little longer than the ground, repeating until the walls were covered all around (doors and windows excluded and cut from re-mesh already).

When diluted, this type of mixture will harden into a 'thin shell' material similar to fiberglass. Once the walls were up, I affixed a cone roof with 2-3 feet of overhang. This type of cement isn't considered load-bearing (according to the manufacturers) unless it is mixed at prescribed amounts and applied at about 0.5 to 5/8" thickness.

So...my goal is to use the thin shell / 'diluted' mixture to get the thin shell structure up. This is where I am at now**.

Next, I will mix the MgO cement in the thicker, recommended, formula and spray on with a stucco sprayer to get the full compression strength. Collins recommends a Tirolessa sprayer, but fyi: you can find comparable hopper type stucco sprayers on Amazon for $80. I plan to spray the thicker cement onto interior walls and interior roof,

exterior roof and walls $-saver:

then save money by using Mr. Collins's suggestion of mixing old latex paint with Portland cement (in place of water, adding only a little more water for optimal 'flow'/coverage) and using that for the external roof (poor right on top and spread outward).

Optimally I would like to keep it all sustainable (no-Portland), but to be honest, my goal is to get the framework firmed up and ready for the elements, at which point it can stand for a while if I don't want to or don't have the time to develop it further (it will be a solid 'cement tent' at that point), and using a bit of Portland on the roof will allow me to reach that point of completion sooner.

Longer term/ insulation layer... I will be adding an outer layer of earthbag (feed bags filled with local volcanic rock) all around the outside of the roundhouse. This is also Michael Collin's idea... which I love, so will appropriate it for this first structure>>> after adding the earthbag layer, do a 2nd cone roof layer, and there's your insulated 2-layer roof (punch a hole through center of first roof with longer center pole, affix 2nd roof from new pole to *outside* dimension of earthbag wall).

Can't beat the R-value on a simple house like that, but also you can stretch out the cost of adding insulation, etc in phases as you have the time and money. So it's a super fast way to get a structure up -- can be out of the elements within a few days, depending on site work needed, then add insulation comfort as you have the time/resources.

Sourcing-- Yep, it can be tough to source these products, and though I've gotten very close to figuring out the formula, there are ingredients that themselves would need to be sourced at prices lower than I've found them.. but still researching. That said, as time goes on more and more small natural cement companies are popping up all over, so I recommend you get on your local 'natural building' facebook pages, etc, because there might be a local cement company with affordable natural cements closer than you think.

Best of luck! 

The pics I've attached show 1) the lower half of the re-mesh wall, sunk into a partly filled perimeter trench, 2) swath of burlap, 3) before we raised the roof on the center pole it is hanging over the thin-shell walls so you can't really see the part that is cemented. I have some more pics and vid too, but need to process those and will put them up on http://greencomponents.com/ as soon as I can.


That is awesome bruce! That's exactly what I was looking for. I was actually thinking about two burlap walls about 6-8" apart. Then fill in the gap with straw soaked in the same thin mix to get a concrete lattice with lots of airspace between the walls. Then seal it shut with spray on interior and exterior layers. If you can get an airspace between the two roof layers, that will really be well insulated.

One thing I'm really curious about is how much straw, paper or other cellulose aggregate you can mix into the cement before it loses it's strength.

Did you ever try to use sodium silicate (waterglass) for the mix?
It goes rock hard once dried, is fireproof and when used as a binder for perlite you can make nice building blocks out of it.
So I am quite sure the perlite can be substituted with straw, paper insulation fluff or other light weight things.
When used in cement it makes it waterproof, so the cement won't act like a sponge whein getting wet.

Hey! you're right about the roof and airspace-- that's my plan. after the first cone roof is applied to the thin shell structure, and i've encased that in earthbag, then a 2nd layer of roof can easily be added by punching through the cone putting taller temp pole in place and extending that roof to the *earthbag layer*'s larger diameter :)

as far as adding aggregate, you don't really want to add any except perhaps a little sand on finishing layers if you're going to make it so diluted as in the thin shell application. But for thicker mixtures, such as used for pouring or spraying (not so much), you can add aggregate as you normally would --of course experimentation will be required fun. in other news, I've been inspired to skip more MgO cement for my next phase and go with Portland plus a latex additive, bringing cost down considerably (until natural cements are easier to come by, this is an acceptable solution for me, as Portland does not create negative effects in the finished structure when used with the additive it functions much like MgO, but of course the production of Portland cement is another story (CO2 contributor). Check out https://www.instructables.com/id/Latex-Concrete-Roof/ and their main site http://velacreations.com/ exciting stuff!!!

Best of luck to you, would like to keep comparing notes,

to be clear, once the thin shell is up, I will

1.spray the thicker cement mixture onto the interior walls, then
2. tie the roof canvas to wall tops, and tension further to trees for the eaves
3. spray the thicker cement mixture onto *interior* of roof.
4. Once interior roof hardens, it will be much easier to get the Portland/latex-paint mixture poured onto the *exterior* of the roof.

I just stumbled on this and am really looking forward to spending some time dissecting & digesting all the info! Thank you!


Reply 2 years ago

Yeah, that looks like the stuff. 1300 PSI, and bonds to cellulose and portland concrete; Portland cement barely bonds to it's own aggregate and doesn't really bond to rebar, while the MgO cement will actually crystallize inside cellulose aggregate and bonds to just about anything else. That's why a modern building starts to crumble after a 100 years but the Great Wall of China and Roman Aqueducts are still standing strong.

...but paramagnetic? I'd like to know how that helps plants grow.

borax can change strength so watchout 15 minute effects is ideal no longer

Do you have any projects or pictures you can share?

mgo celluloses deserve more experimentation seems at times acid base rxn effected by water ph

I'm not sure there would be any advantage to adding water to the mixture. Unlike portland cement, it does not require wetting while it cures. If you're mixing MgO powder with 10-34-0 Ammonium Poly-Phosphate liquid fertilizer, there will be some water added to the fertilizer. If you are adding straw or grass clippings as the cellulose aggregate, you should probably make sure it's good and dry so the cement will soak in deep. Since it forms a gel and that crystallizes, I'm guessing the water comes to the surface as it dries.

now i recommend goldblatt multipositional hoppergun for more efficient use of material with constant cleaning ..washing


3 years ago

Interesting.... though I don't necessarily agree with all the conclusions that the author came to.

All that said, Magnesium Oxide is can be quickly made to relatively high purity from simple sources.
Magnesium sulfate, or epsom salt, is sold at nearly every grocery store, and is sold in bulk at most garden stores. Mixing magnesium sulfate with ammonia hydroxide (ammonia mixed with water) produces magnesium hydroxide and ammonia sulfate. Ammonia sulfate is highly soluble and magnesium hydroxide is not.
At that point, given what's being said about this stuff, it'd probably cure, though there'd be allot of excess water.

With regards to how this compares to traditional cement, the requirement of Phosphate makes this kinda nuetral to me. A cap on global phosphate production has been building for the last 20 or so years, and peak phosphate has some very negative consequences, even relative to global warming.

Well, higher compression strength means less material is needed and therefore a lower weight for strength equal to portland cement. Also, a superior adhesive properties and affinity to cellulose means many more light weight options for making concrete.

I'm not sure what you could do with Magnesium Sulfate.

You can turn it into MgO.
Almost in a single step process. by mixing it with ammonia dissolved in water.
If you saturated your cellulose mats with magnesium sulphate dissolved in water, and then sprayed them with ammonia, you'd have a curing process that wouldn't necessarily require phosphates (although phosphates might make the process run smoother still.)

I want some too up here in canada! please help me get a supplier that will ship to me in north bay, ontario canada can someone help?


3 years ago

Where is your project now? What is re-mesh? What type of wire is it? thanks

awesome bruce!

Hi I'm in ontario Canada and would like some up here too ,does anyone know of some one that will ship to Toronto canada???my project is on hold till winter is done with us ,so I have till april/may till I need it.


5 years ago

Okay. I called this guy:

He is in Austin, TX. He orders 50 bags at a time and it cost $50/bag plus shipping. He said he can probably talk his supplier down to a 10 bag minimum order, but that's still too much for me. The stuff does go a lot further per bag then portland cement, so it's not really more expensive.

He said grancrete sells smaller quantities, but it is a lower grade product than what he uses. He told me a lot of interesting things about how China is using MgO cement almost exclusively now. They are restoring ancient temples that were made with MgO formulations 2500 years ago. Some of the ancient columns he has worked on have a smooth finish, almost indistinguishable from marble. While investigating the ancient technique, they chipped some away and found the wood columns inside were perfectly preserved.

He also said they use it to bond bone and ligament, and while you are working with it, it will seal and heal any cuts you have on your hands. It is the only material used in the 5 tallest building in the world. The Chinese have developed (rediscovered) many different formulations and will never again allow portland cement to be used in construction.

He said the reason it's so hard to find here in the US is because the portland cement industry has suppressed it. There are only a few manufactures in the US and they only produce very small quantities despite it using less than a fifth of the energy to make.compared to portland. How he put it was, "this is not capitalism here in the US."

do you know the weight of those bags, are they 90 lbs, like Portland, or 50 lbs, like lime?

I wonder if we could get a group buy together to buy a minimum order?

yeah, i'm down for a minimum order possibly (but I'm in Houston, building in SE Oklahoma). but i'm super stoked about using your cement with latex additive tech to finish my current project. Thanks much, very inspiring site!

I am in SE Okla and looking at projects and looking for a supplier too.

The marble and tilesetters union probably had an agreement with the cement guys. You know, the ones who could make cement shoes, and they got an offer they couldn't refuse.

Since were talking about masonry, I'm sure the Free Masons control the industry.

Velacreations, I didn't think to ask. Either way, shipping will be expensive.

Citlinsdad: I've got my finger on the side of my nose right now.

If you have ever seen a cement plant, the amount of energy used and caustic wasteland created is amazing. When you multiply that by the uber-tons of portland cement that is produced all across the US every year, it's disgusting. Then when you think about how the low strength and flexibility requires such thickness and so much steel to reinforce it, which in-turn decays inside the concrete causing it to have hollow voids and crumble in a couple of decades, you really get a sense of how stupid regular concrete really is.

MgO cement will soak into cellulose and bond with steel, and just about anything else you apply it to, including regular concrete. Instead of encapsulating the reinforcing frames, those materials become part of a monolithic structure. It is also a better moisture barrier and PH neutral so wood and steel that don't become saturated, and therefore part of the crystal matrix, don't get corroded over time.


5 years ago

Magnesium phosphate cements develop considerably greater compressive and tensile strengths compared to Portland cement, and given they could take less energy to produce it is a wonder why they are not more commonly used these days. The promotion and proliferation of Portland cement occurred when energy was cheap and health concerns of the public were simply not an issue.

These guys build cool stuff out of it...

FWIW, I got a response from Michael Collins about the formula for making your own MgO cement, the only thing is in my initial research I couldn't find a good price for the main 'special' ingredient --hitting the same barriers with location/shipping costs. Unfortunately I lost the email as far as which type of fly ash he specifically recommends, but maybe I can reach him again.

Cures in minutes? That sounds very difficult to work with, especially for folk not used to dealing with cement.

work in cold weather. in about 50 degree weather I had plenty of time to drench fabric and then climb ladder, attach to framework, and touch up... before it set. Granted, that is with a thin / diluted mixture ('PCW' formula of MgO cement to be exact)

You mix a little at a time and keep adding more layers is my understanding.

Are the distributors listed in the article still in business?

I didn't have much luck contacting anyone. Translating MgO cement into a product name is difficult. I no longer have my back yard to work in so I kinda stopped researching it, but I did find this...

yes, difficult, as the main vendors seem to change the product names. the last MgO I bought was called 'PCW' -by Grancrete. I had luck reaching the distributors in Maine.

We are a Texas based manufacturer of MgO boards. We have production in Texas and China. Feel free to contact us for further info at Jet-Board.com.
We don't supply the concrete, only finished boards. The MOC cements are very sensitive to curing, so they don't work well for backyard applications.


5 years ago

Here is some more information about MgO cement. It's also commonly known as Chinacrete. The following page has some interesting information on three different formulations, and is from a manufacturer of the Magnesium Oxide. They don't make the concrete mix. It looks like the Magnesium Oxide - Phosphate mix is the stuff I'm looking for. It seems that it can be made with MgO (their Magox product) and amonium phosphate fertilizer with some Borax as a set retardant.


I would really like to learn more about this material, how to acquire it, and how to use it. I have a lot of applications that would be perfect for this.


5 years ago

I'm really hoping to inspire someone else to create some cool Instructables with the stuff. I don't have my back yard any more, or as much time and money as I once had, so I can't really do the experimentation. I would like to do some planted containers or other small projects if someone else could continue my research and do the hard work for me.


5 years ago

This site has some more links... http://www.geoswan.com/html/mgo2424.html





5 years ago


Magnesium phosphate cements are formed by the reaction of magnesium oxide with a soluble phosphate, such as ammonium phosphate, either the mono or dibasic salt; or an agricultural fertilizer solution known as 10-34-0 (NPK designation) can also be used. This magnesia cements rapid set and very high early strength has found utility as a rapid patching mortar for road and aircraft run-ways, which can typically be re-opened after about 45 minutes. It has very good adhesion to a wide variety of aggregates and substrates. In contrast to MOC and MOS cements, this cement system has good water and freeze thaw resistance. Commercial magnesium phosphate cements typically reach a compressive strength of about 2900 psi after 1 hour, with an ultimate strength of 8000 psi.

The reaction mechanism is thought to be an acid-base reaction between the MgO and the acid phosphate. This results in an initial gel formation followed by the crystallization of this gel into an insoluble phosphate, mainly magnesium ammonium phosphate hexahydrate, NH4MgPO4.6H2O. The magnesium oxide used in this system is a fairly unreactive MgO, either hard or dead-burnt, and is used in conjunction with a set retarder, typically either borax or boric acid, to afford a workable set time.

For more information on any of these magnesia cement systems, please contact:

Dr. Mark A. Shand

Premier Chemicals Research Center

(419) 986-5126

©2007 Premier Chemicals


via Magnesia Cements by Dr. Mark A. Shand, Premier Chemicals.

I wonder if that is the secret sauce in the quick setting cement that you use to set fence posts in. A bag of that stuff is more expensive and you do just pour water over it to activate without mixing.

It's been speculated that it is the quick set or hydraulic cement used to set posts and build intersections but I don't think those are the pure stuff. I think that website says it's used to build operating room floors in hospitals.