I'm no expert but have over 25 years of capital project experience and have had
contractors pour all sorts of concrete for me for various reasons (slabs,
footings and foundation wall, slabs, pedestals, floors).
Some musings on the recent subject matter:
Guys around the Chicago area just use diesal or kerosene sprayed on the forms
after the forms are made, usually while waiting for the cement truck to arrive.
Never have seen any sticking problems.
Forms are used in holes in the ground to keep the surrounding soil from caving
in, not to make the shape of the concrete. From the pictures, it looks like
you have good soil and no forms would be needed. I totally agree with the
warnings about "properly" compacting backfill around a structural pedastal like
what you're building. If not done so, you may have a leaning tower.
In the hot weather or if exposed to sunny conditions, most lay a sheet of
plastic across the top and/or water underneath it a couple of times. The first
week is crucial.
The concrete would be setup with a week but I would never start applying any
real load, like erecting a tower, until at least 3-4 weeks (that 28 days) is
up. Concrete is continuosly curing, reaching 90+% of it's strength within that
28 days. Then it will completely cure to 100% in a few years (at least that's
what I remember reading in the Concrete Construction handlbook we had back in
the Engineering library).
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