Stress from crystallization of salt

George W. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

747 Scopus citations


The thermodynamic and kinetic factors influencing crystallization pressure are reviewed for cases including capillary rise and evaporation, cyclic wetting and drying, and hydration of cement. Under equilibrium conditions, where the crystal is surrounded by a film of solution, high stresses are expected only in small pores, but when that film is discontinuous (as may occur during drying), high stresses can arise even in large pores. High crystallization pressure requires a substantial supersaturation of the pore liquid. In the case of sodium sulfate, supersaturation results from the difference in solubility between the anhydrate and decahydrate phases; for ettringite, supersaturation may develop following the cooling from elevated temperatures. During the hydration of Portland cement, crystallization pressure may result from the growth of ettringite and/or calcium hydroxide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1613-1624
Number of pages12
JournalCement and Concrete Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


  • Crystallization pressure
  • Ettringite
  • Sodium sulfate
  • Supersaturation


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