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Efflorescence, in chemistry, is the loss of water (or a solvent) of crystallization from a hydrated or solvated salt to the atmosphere on exposure to air. - quoting wikipedia :p

to me this sounds like spawling, which is what the structural guys always refer to when describing concrete that had not cured properly. the concrete is easily chipped away. the temperature was probably too cold and it was not kept at a proper curing temperature.

you can try using a sealant, which may slow down the breakdown. but the worst case scenario is that you may have to replace the concrete.

but yes... if you post some pics, someone who is a structural engineer could probably tell you exactly what's wrong.
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