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What is Asphalt Made Of?

Dark, sticky, and with a distinct odor, you’re likely to identify the latest American Asphalt installation before ever setting eyes on it. What is asphalt made of?

asphalt repair

A Storied History

Asphalt is a semi-solid form of petroleum that in other regions goes by the names; bitumen, tar, and mineral pitch. It is among the world’s oldest building materials. Durable and versatile, this dark, sticky mineral has been in use since the beginning of civilization as a mortar for paving, caulking, waterproofing, and preservation. The La Brea Tar Pits, our L.A. neighbor, infamously uncovered prehistoric animal skeletons preserved in their pits. Because of its unique properties, asphalt is used for roadway surfacing. It is a major component of American Asphalt’s surfacing mixes.

Sources of Asphalt

Asphalt comes from two sources:

  1. Natural asphalt deposits, which seep through cracks to the earth’s surface.
  2. Refined asphalt, a natural component of petroleum, from which it’s separated and refined. Some crude oils are almost entirely asphalt.

The Sticky Business of Asphalt Quality Control

Though refined asphalt is uniform and free of mineral and organic impurities (such as fossils), at American Asphalt we know all asphalt is not the same. That is why we pay special attention to the quality of our asphalt products. Asphalt quality is dependent on the properties of crude oil, which varies by source location as well as refining method. What do we look for in quality asphalt to ensure lasting paving results?

  • Consistency
    Asphalt is graded based on its consistency/viscosity at a set temperature. We perform viscosity and penetration tests to ensure our asphalt’s consistency and durability. Our careful mixing and temperature control process also prevents hardening damage that can be more severe than many years of service.  
  • Purity
    We purchase only pure, refined asphalt confirmed via soluble purity tests to be more than 99.5% soluble in carbon disulfide.
  • Safety
    Asphalt transport tanks must be free of water, as tank moisture can cause asphalt to foam and potentially ignite with heat exposure. At American Asphalt, we’re sticklers for safety. We test our asphalt mixtures for moisture and heat tolerance and carefully manage them to prevent the release of fumes that can flash when exposed to spark or fire.

What is your asphalt made of? Ensure a lasting asphalt surface with top quality materials from American Asphalt. Contact us at 800-541-5559 and schedule a free on-site inspection today.

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