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Determination of Moisture Content of Soil by Calcium Carbide Method

Determination of Water Content - Calcium Carbide Method

Determination of Water Content - Calcium Carbide Method

Reading time: 1 minute

Calcium carbide gas pressure moisture tester is one of the rapid test methods that is used for the determination of moisture in soils. This test is commonly called as Speedy moisture tester.

The materials required and test procedure of calcium carbide method for determining the moisture content of the soils are explained.

Materials and Apparatus for Calcium Carbide Method

The soil samples used for this tests are taken in 6, 26 and 200 gram sizes. The basic apparatus include:

  1. Moisture Tester
  2. Scale for weighing the soil sample
  3. Scoop for measuring the reagent
  4. A sturdy Carrying case
  5. Steel Balls
  6. Calcium Carbide Reagent
Fig.1. Calcium Carbide Tester or Speedy Moisture Tester

Sample Preparation for Calcium Carbide Method

If the soil sample is 26 gm, the three scoops of calcium carbide reagent and two balls are placed in large chamber of the tester. These steel balls are used for breaking down the cohesive materials in the case of 26gm grain sample.

When a 6gm sample tester is used, a level scoopful of calcium carbide is placed in the chamber without the addition of steel balls.

The calcium carbide reagent is available in cans in finely pulverised material form. This reagent produce 2.25cu.ft of acetylene gas per pound of calcium carbide.

Procedure for Calcium Carbide Moisture Test

The test procedure for the calcium carbide test are as follows:

  1. The test sample is weighed for weights 6, 26 and 200 grams on a scale.
  2. The weighed soil sample is then placed on the cap of the tester. Keeping the pressure vessel in a horizontal position, insert the cap in the pressure vessel. This is then sealed and tightened by the clamp. Care must be taken to avoid contact of calcium carbide with the soil sample.
  3. Now, the pressure vessel is raised in the vertical position that the soil in the cap falls into the pressure vessel.
  4. In order to break the lumps present in it, the tester is vigorously shaken. This helps calcium carbide to react with all the free moisture present.
  5. If steel balls are used in the tester, the shaking must be performed with the help of rotating motion. This is to avoid any damage to the instrument and to avoid the possibility of soil particles to get embedded with the orifice reading ( Used to make pressure diagram).
  6. For granular soils, shaking is performed for 1 minute and for other soils, the shaking is performed for 3 minutes. This shaking helps to perform the complete reaction of the calcium carbide reagent and the free moisture. This reaction is exothermic, hence time must be provided to allow dissipation of the heat generated.
  7. The dial reading when stops to move, the instrument is kept in a horizontal position at the eye level and the reading is taken.
  8. Now the weight of the sample and the dial reading is recorded.
  9. Slowly release the gas pressure by keeping the cap of the instrument pointed away from the operator.
  10. The pressure vessel is emptied and check for lumps if any. If the sample is not completely pulverized, the test is repeated for a new sample.
  11. The dial reading obtained is the percentage of moisture by wet weight. It must be converted into dry weight percent.

Calculation and Result in Calcium Carbide Test

The reading obtained is in wet moisture basis (m). This must be converted into water content on dry mass basis, which is calculated as:

w = [m/(100-m)] x 100

Also Read: Determination of water Content by sand bath method

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