A Guide on Cement for Formicarium Making

Post last updated:2020-10-20

The following content were written by 撒粉hvg in this tieba post, translated by cocdeshijie.

Materials needed

  • The cement need to have a grade of 42.5 N/R or above. Portland Cement is usually a good choice.
  • Medias like sand, pearl powder, sandstone powder, etc.
    • Sand: most basic media that prevent pure cement from cracking
    • Pearl powder: Increase the smoothness for the suface of cement.
    • Sandstone powder: Increase the strength of the cement.
    • Fruit peels: Boiled in water and the resulted pulp can be used to remove peculiar smell of the cement, might be able to reduce harmful chemical elements.
    • Ochre pigment: natural material that can change the color of cement without harming ants.

Creating the cement body

  • A easy way to make the chambers is molding.
  1. Mix cement and medias.
  2. Pour into the mold with release agent on the surface.
  3. Vibrate until no more air bubble show up.
  4. After one day or so the cement should form its shape but still soft. (Keep it in temperature of 20C (70F) or above.)
  5. After two days it can be removed from the mold. spray water on the surface to keep the cement wet.
  6. Keep the cement wet until day 7 (at this time the strength is at 80%), it should reach maximum strength in 28 days.
  7. At this point its considered to be finished, but it is recommeneded to lower the ph level of the cement.

Lowering ph

There are many ways to do so, use a combination of the follwing list.

  • Soaking: soak the cement in water, water will absorb some alkali element released form the cement.
  • Drenching: repeat the process of wetting the cement and drying it.
  • Apple: after the cement is fully dried, wipe the surface of the cement with apple flesh to let the acid from apple to neutralize with alkali elements.
  • Heated water: similar to soaking, but heat will increase the rate for the cement to release alkali elements.
  • Pinching: use with soaking, when white alkali particles show up on the surface of cement, remove them by hand so they can release more at a faster rate.
    These methods should be repeated for a long time ensure a suitable environment for the ants. Add water on the surface and use ph test slips to test the ph level until its 7-8.

The most important thing is to try and experiment with as many different mixtures as possible. Every different material added will have different good/bad results.