The Constructor

Test for Silt Content in Sand

Test for silt content in sand

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Sand or fine aggregate is one of the most important construction materials at any construction site. Its selection should be done very carefully as it contributes to the strength of various important mixtures like concrete, plasters and mortar. Sand should be tested for the presence of clay, silt, moisture and other deleterious materials (salts, coal, mica) that may affect the strength of a structure and cause avoidable rework.

Also Read: Testing of Sand Quality at Construction Site for Concrete

A good quality construction sand has a particle size measuring about 150 microns to 4.75mm. Particles smaller than this are classified as silt. The presence of excess quantity (> 8%) of silt in sand reduces the bonding capacity of raw materials and affects the strength and durability of work. It is recommended to conduct silt content test for every 20m3 of sand.

Test Procedure


To find out the Silt content in sand


  1. A measuring cylinder (250ml)
  2. Water
  3. Sand

Procedure for the Test

  1. Firstly, a 50ml solution of 1% salt and water is prepared in the measuring cylinder. The addition of salt increases the settlement time of silt.
  2. The sample of sand to be tested is then added to the cylinder until the level reaches 100ml.
  3. 50ml of the solution of salt and water is again added to the measuring cylinder.
  4. Close the open end of the measuring cylinder and shake it well.
  5. After a period of 3-4 hours, you will notice a layer of silt settled over the sand.
  6. Now note down the volume V1 of the silt layer settled over the sand.
  7. Note down the volume V2 of the settled sand.
  8. Repeat the procedure a couple more times to get the average.
Measurement jar

Percentage of Silt Content = (V1/V2) x 100

V1 - Volume of silt layer
V2 - Volume of sand layer

For example, for a given sand sample, if V1 comes out to be 9 and V2 is 130, the % silt content would be 6.9 %.

The permissible value of silt content in Sand is 8%, hence the sand sample is ok and can be used for construction purposes.

Observation table Description Sample 1 Sample 2 Sample 3
1 Volume of sample Sand (V2)      
2 Volume of silt layer (V1)      
3 Percentage of silt      
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