What Is Soil Cement?

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Soil cement is a combination of pulverized soil aggregates combined with small amounts of Portland cement and water. The material provides an economic base for construction of asphalt, concrete and gravel roads. Other common uses for soil cement in the construction industry are pipe bedding, parking lots and storage areas.

Types of Aggregate

  • Producing soil cement requires a suitable aggregate to combine with Portland cement. Common aggregate types are crushed stone, sand, clay or a combination of these materials. Fly ash or cinders and wastes from gravel quarries are also suitable materials to produce soil cement. The amount of cement needed to produce soil cement depends largely on the aggregate used. Gravelly materials work best for soil cement. Aggregates with high silt/clay content work well but may require a larger amount of cement to attain maximum strength.

Mixing On Site

  • The process used to manufacture soil cement varies slightly depending on the aggregates available. Job sites that already have a suitable supply of aggregate, mix the material on the site. After applying an appropriate amount of water and Portland cement to the existing aggregate, heavy equipment such as large tillers, mix the materials thoroughly. Once mixing is complete, heavy equipment compacts it to applicable specifications.

Mixing Off Site

  • Large mixing plants produce soil cement for job sites that do not have a suitable aggregate available on site. A suitable aggregate is transported to the plant where it is mixed with cement to applicable specifications and delivered to the job site. To help keep costs down contractors commonly use an aggregate that is available in close proximity to the mixing plant.

Curing

  • Soil cement has to cure properly before handling traffic. The curing process that allows the soil cement to attain maximum strength involves applying a bituminous material to the surface. This helps to control rapid evaporation, which could weaken the soil cement. Soil cement surfaces subjected to light traffic require that small stone chips mix with the bituminous material. A layer of asphalt applied to the soil cement allows the material to handle much heavier traffic.

Advantages

  • Advantages of using soil cement are its strength, ease of installation compared with other forms of road surfaces and its economical costs when the aggregates are on site or at borrow pits close to the mixing plant and job site.

References

  • Photo Credit Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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