Superplasticizers are commonly used in concrete and mortars to improve flow, workability, and wet-out. They eliminate the need for excess water in the mix, thereby improving strength and reducing shrinkage properties in the concrete or mortar. But, some superplasticizers can take a long time to activate and wet-out the dry-mix to the desired consistency. A slow-acting superplasticzer can cause the mix to appear “too-dry” to start, and it’s common for applicators to add additional water prematurely, rendering the mix too-fluid once the superplasticzer activates. The mix is then either applied too-fluid, or there is a yo-yo addition of more dry-mix, then more water, and more mix… Either way, the ratio is not as the prescribed causing adverse properties and performance of the final dried product.

Fast-Acting Superplasticizers

  • Quicker wet-out of dry ingredients
  • Achieve workability of your mix sooner
  • No guess-work for adding excess water
  • Reduces shrinkage properties
  • Increases strength and durability

See the difference your choice in Superplasticzer can make!

The Azelis Americas Construction Solutions Lab helped a customer reformulate their unsanded grout formulation. The results could be seen instantly!

This particularly challenging formula1 uses only fine powder contents: white cement is the sole binder and fine limestone powder is the main filler. It is designed for applications that require very smooth aesthetic and little to no abrasion, such as glass tile. The lack of aggregate allows for minimal scratching. Azelis optimized this grout formula with a fast-acting superplasticizer and cut the mixing time in half!

This example is based on an extremely difficult fine particle formula, but the fast-acting benefits of these superplasticizers also translate to larger aggregate formulas such as SLUs where the mixing time is cut-down to a few seconds.

Traditional Superplasticizer

Fast-Acting Superplasticizer

Lab Report:

The Azelis lab was improving a recipe for an unsanded grout. A customer was obtaining feedback that their formulation was too dry in the early stages of mixing and the applicators were adding more that the recommended dosage of water. This was frustrating for the customer since the material passed all market test requirements. Azelis adjusted their formulation with a fast-acting superplasticizer resulting in a faster wet-out speed as shown in the video above. Most importantly, the unsanded tile grout formula kept the same performance properties.

Performance Results

The formulation submitted exceeded all testing requirements. The replacement of the existing superplasticizer for a fast-acting superplasticizer improved the wet-out speed significantly: from 3 minutes to 1.5 minutes!

Physical Properties Result
Wetout Speed 1.5 minutes
Linear Shrinkage (target <0.3% at 28 days 0.13%
Absorption (target <18% at 28 days) 12%
Compressive Strength (target 3000 psi) 5150 psi
Tensile Strength (target 250 psi at 28 days) 375 psi
Flexural Strength (target 500 psi at 28 days 950 psi


The Azelis unsanded grout formulations not only exceed the physical testing requirements specified, but also made a user-friendly material, reducing the chances of over-watering the mortar. Not only was the wet-out time cut in half by introducing a very powerful and fast-acting superplasticizer, but the existing physical properties easily surpassed the requirements.

The improvement to wet-out allows for less labor-intensive mixing and a more creamy, workable mortar which is very important in the market. This new formulation allows the applicators to have a mortar that they deem to have excellent workability with without compromising physical properties by introducing excess water.

Melflux® Fast-Acting Superplasticizers

Highly efficient superplasticizers based on polycarboxylate ethers (PCEs) with excellent fluidification and water reduction properties for dry mortar systems, such as SLUs. All Melflux grades are very low in VOC (volatile organic components), therefore useful to formulate SLUs according to EMICODE® EC-1

Melflux 6618 F gives the fastest fluidification (final consistency) after short mixing time

Melflux 6681 – Info & Samples

Melflux 4930 F offers fast and high strength development in Portland cement and calcium sulphate alpha-hemihydrate based systems

Melflux 4930 – Info & Samples

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1 Full raw material list and formulation details of the Azelis unsanded grout formula is available from your Azelis representative or via our iChat service.

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DISCLAIMER - The information contained herein is given in good faith, based on our current knowledge and without any representation and warranty, express or implied, on its quality, accuracy, and completeness. Although it is Azelis’ practice to assist our customers with technical advice and to identify and recommend appropriate solutions for any particular application issue, such assistance, advice, and recommendation is provided without guarantee and warranty, express or implied, in relation to the suitability for use, merchantability or performance of a product, formulation or its individual ingredients for any particular application, and Azelis cannot accept any liability for any possible damages, losses or claims in this respect. Considering that Azelis can neither anticipate nor control the different conditions or circumstances under which the product is being used or commercialized, each user should conduct the necessary research and testing to ensure that a product, formulation, or its individual ingredients are fit for purpose and their intended application and verify whether their use or application does not infringe any third party (intellectual property) rights. Users are responsible for ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations when handling any product, formulation, or individual ingredient and are expected to familiarize themselves with the Safety Data Sheet for safety, health, and environmental information, including any instructions related to wearing protective equipment. Where required, users should obtain the necessary certifications, permits, and authorizations prior to using or commercializing any product, formulation, or individual ingredient. Please make certain that you are at all times in possession of the latest version of the written technical specification for each product, formulation, or individual ingredient, which can be requested in writing by mailing to your local representative].