Determination of Water Content in Soil


Testing objectives:

         Determination of the natural content of the given soil sample.

          Testing conforms to ASTM D2216-90.


Aim of the test:



     1. Non-corrodible air-tight container.  
    2. Electric oven, maintain the temperature between 105 C to 115 C. 
    3. Desiccator. 
    4. Balance of sufficient sensitivity. 


Test procedure:

1. Clean the container with lid dry it and weigh it (W1). " Make sure you do this after you have tared the balance"
2. Take a specimen of the sample in the container and weigh with lid (W2). 
3. Keep the container in the oven with lid removed. Dry the specimen to constant weight maintaining the temperature between 1050 C to 1100 C for a period varying with the type of soil but usually 16 to 24 hours. 
4. Record the final constant weight (W3) of the container with dried soil sample. Peat and other organic soils are to be dried at lower temperature (say 600 ) possibly for a longer period. 

  Certain soils contain gypsum which on heating loses its water if crystallization. If it is suspected that gypsum is present in the soil sample used for moisture content determination it shall be dried at not more than 800 C and possibly for a longer time.


Running the test and recording the data:

Data and observation sheet for water content determination 



Sample No.





Can No.



4 - as in the following pictures


Weight of can, W1 (g)





Weight of can + wet soil W2 (g)





Weight of can + dry soil W3 (g)





Water/Moisture content

W (%) = [(W2-W3)/(W3-W1)]100



  % 12.54


Interpreting and Reporting:


The natural moisture content of the soil sample is ___% 12.54__ (This is what you find)

  General Remarks:

1. A container with out lid can be used, when moist sample is weighed immediately after placing the container and oven dried sample is weighed immediately after cooling in desiccator.

2. As dry soil absorbs moisture from wet soil, dried samples should be removed before placing wet samples in the oven.




Test procedure (Step 1)