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Significance and Use
5.1 The water content of a soil is used throughout geotechnical engineering practice both in the laboratory and in the field. The use of Test Method for water content determination can be time consuming and there are occasions when a more expedient method is desirable. The use of a microwave oven is one such method.
5.2 The principal objection to the use of the microwave oven for water-content determination has been the possibility of overheating the soil, thereby yielding a water content higher than would be determined by Test Method . While not eliminating this possibility, the incremental drying procedure described in this test method will minimize its effects. Some microwave ovens have settings at less than full power, which can also be used to reduce overheating.
5.3 The behavior of a soil, when subjected to microwave energy, is dependent on its mineralogical compositions, and as a result no one procedure is applicable for all types of soil. Therefore, the procedure recommended in this test method is meant to serve as a guide when using the microwave oven.
5.4 This test method is best suited for minus 4.75-mm (No. 4) sieve sized material. Larger size particles can be tested; however, care must be taken because of the increased chance of particle shattering.
5.5 The use of this method may not be appropriate when highly accurate results are required, or the test using the data is extremely sensitive to moisture variations.
5.6 Due to the localized high temperatures that the specimen is exposed to in microwave heating, the physical characteristics of the soil may be altered. Degregation of individual particles may occur, along with vaporization or chemical transition. It is therefore recommended that samples used in this test method not be used for other tests subsequent to drying.
Note 1: The quality of the results produced by this test method is dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it and the suitability of the equipment and facilities used. Agencies that meet the criteria of Practice are generally considered capable of competent and objective testing. Users of this test method are cautioned that compliance with Practice does not in itself ensure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.
1.1 This test method outlines procedures for determining the water content of soils by incrementally drying soil in a microwave oven.
1.2 This test method can be used as a substitute for Test Method when more rapid results are desired to expedite other phases of testing and slightly less accurate results are acceptable.
1.3 When questions of accuracy between this test method and Test Method arise, Test Method shall be the referee method.
1.4 This test method is applicable for most soil types. For some soils, such as those containing significant amounts of halloysite, mica, montmorillonite, gypsum or other hydrated materials, highly organic soils, or soils in which the pore water contains significant amounts of dissolved solids (such as salt in the case of marine deposits), this test method may not yield reliable water content values due to the potential for heating above 110°C or lack of means to account for the presence of precipitated solids that were previously dissolved.
1.5 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. Performance of the test method utilizing another system of units shall not be considered non-conformance. The sieve designations are identified using the “standard” system in accordance with Specification , such as 2.0-mm and 19-mm, followed by the “alternative” system of No. 10 and 3/4-in., respectively, in parentheses.
1.6 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice , unless otherwise superseded by this standard.
1.6.1 The procedures used to specify how data are collected/recorded or calculated in this standard are regarded as the industry standard. In addition, they are representative of the significant digits that generally should be retained. The procedures used do not consider material variation, purpose for obtaining the data, special purpose studies, or any considerations for the user’s objectives; and it is common practice to increase or reduce significant digits of reported data to be commensurate with these considerations. It is beyond the scope of this standard to consider significant digits used in analysis methods for engineering design.
1.6.2 Significant digits are especially important if the water content will be used to calculate other relationships such as moist mass to dry mass or vice versa, wet unit weight to dry unit weight or vice versa, and total density to dry density or vice versa. For example, if four significant digits are required in any of the above calculations, then the water content has to be recorded to the nearest 0.1 %, for water contents below 100 %. This occurs since 1 plus the water content (not in percent) will have four significant digits regardless of what the value of the water content is (below 100 %); that is, 1 plus 0.1/100 = 1.001, a value with four significant digits. While, if three significant digits are acceptable, then the water content can be recorded to the nearest 1 %.
1.7 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. See Section .
2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.
D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids
D2216 Test Methods for Laboratory Determination of Water (Moisture) Content of Soil and Rock by Mass
D3740 Practice for Minimum Requirements for Agencies Engaged in Testing and/or Inspection of Soil and Rock as Used in Engineering Design and Construction
D4220 Practices for Preserving and Transporting Soil Samples
D4753 Guide for Evaluating, Selecting, and Specifying Balances and Standard Masses for Use in Soil, Rock, and Construction Materials Testing
D5079 Practices for Preserving and Transporting Rock Core Samples
D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical Data
E11 Specification for Woven Wire Test Sieve Cloth and Test Sieves
ICS Number Code 13.080.40 (Hydrological properties of soil)
UNSPSC Code 11111501(Soil)
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ASTM D4643-17, Standard Test Method for Determination of Water Content of Soil and Rock by Microwave Oven Heating, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2017, www.astm.orgBack to Top