Chemical analysis of soil

What Contractors Need to Know About Chemical Analysis of Soil

Chemical analysis of soil is the process of assessing its composition and physical properties. It can be done either through instrumental or classic analysis though most civil engineers prefer instrumental analysis. Testing firms use specialized equipment and reagents to determine the composition of the soil. Typically, engineers test for the presence of chemicals such as sulphites, organic matter and chlorides and characteristics like pH levels and soil structure.

Importance of chemical analysis of soil

Chemical testing of soil in a construction or civil engineering site has major implications on how the project engineers handle the soil on the site, the type of remediation works needed, project cost and timelines. Chemical testing helps engineers predict how the soil will behave under different conditions such as extreme temperature, moisture content and pressure. It also helps determine how to improve the soil to withstand the pressure exerted by the construction project and its subsequent use.

Knowing the texture of the soil helps determine its water retention qualities while understanding its structure helps predict its stability under different moisture and aeration conditions. For instance, highly permeable soils require waterproofing to prevent dampness. Meanwhile, tests on the index properties of soil help determine its behaviour under different conditions such as shrinkage and plasticity under pressure.

It is important to determine the pH of a soil in order to assess its reaction to different construction materials. For instance, highly acidic soils tend to react with the concrete and bitumen used in road constructions compromising the quality of constructed roads. Similarly, silicate clay soils are highly reactive and can destabilize the overlying structure by reacting with the materials used.

The identification of clay soils and testing their reaction with different construction materials during chemical testing helps identify the most suitable materials for a particular project. Engineers can also devise remedial measures to reduce contact between the construction materials and the soil. On the other hand, the presence of organic matter in the soil increases cation exchange and high capacity for reaction with the construction materials.

Compliance with Regulations and Industry Standards

Soil testing is not only an industry best practice but also a regulatory requirement. Contractors in construction and civil engineering projects are required to perform chemical analysis that complies with industry standards. Most projects require the contractor to hire registered testing companies whose tests comply with industry best standards for a particular type of project such as Specifications for Highway Works. However, some projects require contractors to achieve a specific standard of excellence such as UKAS standards TRL 447 and BS 1377 for sulphates and soils, respectively. In such cases, the contractor is compelled to hire a testing firm that can guarantee the specific standard of chemical analysis.

CBR Testing

CBR testing offers both industry-standard chemical analysis of soil and compliance-based tests to construction projects throughout the UK. We offer both in-situ and laboratory-based chemical testing services to clients in quarrying, construction and civil engineering projects. All our tests are UKAS accredited and consistent with industry best practices. For further inquiries call