Designation: D 4318 – 00

Standard Test Methods for
Liquid Limit, Plastic Limit, and Plasticity Index of Soils1
This standard is issued under the fixed designation D 4318; the number immediately following the designation indicates the year of
original adoption or, in the case of revision, the year of last revision. A number in parentheses indicates the year of last reapproval. A
superscript epsilon (e) indicates an editorial change since the last revision or reapproval.

1. Scope * the several consistency states of plastic soils.
1.1 These test methods cover the determination of the liquid 1.6 The composition and concentration of soluble salts in a
limit, plastic limit, and the plasticity index of soils as defined soil affect the values of the liquid and plastic limits as well as
in Section 3 on Terminology. the water content values of soils (see Method D 2216). Special
1.2 Two methods for preparing test specimens are provided consideration should therefore be given to soils from a marine
as follows: Wet preparation method, as described in 10.1. Dry environment or other sources where high soluble salt concen-
preparation method, as described in 10.2. The method to be trations may be present. The degree to which the salts present
used shall be specified by the requesting authority. If no in these soils are diluted or concentrated must be given careful
method is specified, use the wet preparation method. consideration.
1.2.1 The liquid and plastic limits of many soils that have 1.7 The methods described herein are performed only on
been allowed to dry before testing may be considerably that portion of a soil that passes the 425-µm (No. 40) sieve.
different from values obtained on non-dried samples. If the Therefore, the relative contribution of this portion of the soil to
liquid and plastic limits of soils are used to correlate or the properties of the sample as a whole must be considered
estimate the engineering behavior of soils in their natural moist when using these tests to evaluate properties of a soil.
state, samples should not be permitted to dry before testing 1.8 The values stated in acceptable metric units are to be
unless data on dried samples are specifically desired. regarded as the standard, except as noted below. The values
1.3 Two methods for determining the liquid limit are pro- given in parentheses are for information only.
vided as follows: Method A, Multipoint test as described in 1.8.1 The standard units for the resilience tester covered in
Sections 11 and 12. Method B, One-point test as described in Annex A1 are inch-pound, not metric. The metric values given
Sections 13 and 14. The method to be used shall be specified are for information only.
by the requesting authority. If no method is specified, use 1.9 This standard does not purport to address all of the
Method A. safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the
1.3.1 The multipoint liquid limit method is generally more responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appro-
precise than the one-point method. It is recommended that the priate safety and health practices and determine the applica-
multipoint method be used in cases where test results may be bility of regulatory limitations prior to use.
subject to dispute, or where greater precision is required. 2. Referenced Documents
1.3.2 Because the one-point method requires the operator to
judge when the test specimen is approximately at its liquid 2.1 ASTM Standards:
limit, it is particularly not recommended for use by inexperi- C 702 Practice for Reducing Field Samples of Aggregate to
enced operators. Testing Size2
1.3.3 The correlation on which the calculations of the D 75 Practice for Sampling Aggregates3
one-point method are based may not be valid for certain soils, D 420 Guide to Site Characterization for Engineering, De-
such as organic soils or soils from a marine environment. It is sign, and Construction Purposes4
strongly recommended that the liquid limit of these soils be D 653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained
determined by the multipoint method. Fluids4
1.4 The plastic limit test is performed on material prepared D 1241 Specification for Materials for Soil-Aggregate Sub-
for the liquid limit test. base, Base, and Surface Courses4
1.5 The liquid limit and plastic limit of soils (along with the D 2216 Test Method for Laboratory Determination of Water
shrinkage limit) are often collectively referred to as the (Moisture) Content of Soil and Rock by Mass4
Atterberg limits. These limits distinguished the boundaries of D 2487 Practice for Classification of Soils for Engineering
Purposes (Unified Soil Classification System)4
1
This standard is under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and
Rock and is the direct responsibility of Subcommittee D18.03 on Texture, Plasticity
2
and Density Characteristics of Soils. Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol 04.02.
3
Current edition approved June 10, 2000. Published September 2000. Originally Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol 04.03.
4
published as D 4318 – 83. Last previous edition D 4318 – 98. Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol 04.08.

*A Summary of Changes section appears at the end of this standard.
Copyright © ASTM, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959, United States.

1

Vol 04. and deformed. wL)—the water content. plastic limit. current engineering usage.2. oven-dried before testing. plasticity index. The amount of increase is 3. 6.1.1 Liquid Limit Device—A mechanical device consisting 6 Annual Book of ASTM Standards. shrink-swell. and the data from the trials plotted or calculated to make a Related Construction Materials Testing 4 relationship from which the liquid limit is determined. uses the data from two trials cal Data5 at one water content multiplied by a correction factor to E 11 Specification for Wire-Cloth Sieves for Testing Pur. Apparatus 5 Annual Book of ASTM Standards.2. in percent. In addition. liquidity index. of 5. on drying. one-point liquid limit. of these materials tend to increase.2. weathering characteristics of clay-shale materials.2. Reliable results depend on many factors. Users of this standard are 4. the liquid limit.5 plastic soil—a soil which has a range of water content considered to be a measure of a shale’s susceptibility to over which it exhibits plasticity and which will retain its shape weathering.1 Definitions: between the liquid limit and the plastic limit. determined by performing trials in which a portion of the Aggregate Mixtures for Highway Construction Purposes4 specimen is spread in a brass cup. to (2) its Practice D 2487). 5.6 plasticity index (PI)—the range of water content over of organic matter decreases dramatically when the soil is which a soil behaves plastically. Significance and Use accordance with Terminology D 653. divided in two by a grooving D 3740 Practice for Minimum Requirements for Agencies tool. and Speci. generally. The D 6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechni.1 These test methods are used as an integral part of several 3. with other soil properties to correlate limit. sample before and after oven-drying can therefore be used as a 3. Practice D 3740 4.4 The liquid limit of a soil containing substantial amounts 3.2.3 These methods are sometimes used to evaluate the 3. six “limits of consis. and to specify the fine-grained fraction of construction mate- the cohesion limit. poses6 4. Selecting.1 Discussion—The undrained shear strength of soil at percentage finer than 2-µm particle size can be used to the liquid limit is considered to be approximately 2 kPa (0. more trials over a range of water contents to be performed and fying Balances and Scales for Use in Soil. Agencies that meet the equivalent diameter smaller than 2 µm.2 The liquid and plastic limits of a soil and its water a soil at the arbitrarily defined boundary between the semi. of a brass cup suspended from a carriage designed to control its 2 . psi). Method A.28 determine its activity number. content can be used to express its relative consistency or liquid and plastic states. 40) sieve.3 liquid limit (LL. 3. either liquid limit. the liquid limits states. requires three or D 4753 Specification for Evaluating. the sticky limit. the plastic limit. 3.4 plastic limit (PL. the shrinkage individually or together. the plasticity index and the 3. 3. The liquid limit. Summary of Test Method cautioned that compliance with Practice D 3740 does not in itself assure reliable results. are considered capable of competent and objective testing/sampling/inspection/etc. Vol 14. In rials (see Specification D 1241).7 liquidity index—the ratio. The multipoint liquid limit. expressed as a percentage of qualitative measure of organic matter content of a soil (see (1) the water content of a soil minus its plastic limit.2 consistency—the relative ease with which a soil can be conductivity (permeability). Numerically.09. wp)—the water content.) diameter thread a ASTM Test Methods6 small portion of plastic soil until its water content is reduced to E 691 Practice for Conducting an Interlaboratory Study to a point at which the thread crumbles and can no longer be Determine the Precision of a Test Method6 pressed together and re-rolled. D 4318 D 3282 Practice for Classification of Soils and Soil. the term usually refers only to the and plasticity index of soils are also used extensively. hydraulic 3.2. Rock.3. shear strength. engineering classification systems to characterize the fine- tency” of fine-grained soils were defined by Albert Atterberg: grained fractions of soils (see Practices D 2487 and D 3282) the upper limit of viscous flow. and the shrinkage limit.2 Description of Terms Specific to This Standard: 5. and then allowed to flow together from the shocks caused Engaged in the Testing and/or Inspection of Soil and Rock by repeatedly dropping the cup in a standard mechanical as Used in Engineering Design and Construction4 device.2. Method B.1 The specimen is processed to remove any material provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.3 The plasticity index is calculated as the difference 3. and in some references. 5.2.1 Atterberg Limits—Originally.2-mm (1⁄8-in. plastic limit. Comparison of the liquid limit of a ence between the liquid limit and the plastic limit.1 The definitions of terms in this standard are in 5. When sub- of a soil at the boundary between the plastic and semi-solid jected to repeated wetting and drying cycles. Terminology 4. The liquid limit is 6. determine the liquid limit. 3. compactibility. with engineering behavior such as compressibility. The water content of the soil at this point is reported as the plastic limit. in percent. retained on a 425-µm (No.8 activity number (A)—the ratio of (1) the plasticity dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it and the index of a soil to (2) the percent by mass of particles having an suitability of the equipment and facilities used.2 The plastic limit is determined by alternately pressing E 177 Practice for Use of the Terms Precision and Bias in together and rolling into a 3. it is the differ. NOTE 1—The quality of the result produced by this standard is 3. criteria of Practice D 3740.02.2.

limit cup. hardness of 80 to 90. device must not differ from those obtained using a manually tinuously to its maximum height. with a mass. However. 180° of cam rotation.2 Rubber Feet. designed to provide rest of the device by rubber mounts or in some other way that isolation of the base from the work surface. of 185 of-drop adjustments. (The preferred cam motion is a uniformly accelerated The design of the tool may vary as long as the essential lift curve.2 Flat Grooving Tool—A tool made of plastic or downward velocity of the cup when the cam follower leaves noncorroding-metal having the dimensions shown in Fig.1.1. and resilience rebound of at least 77 % 6. a curved grooving may be used.1. It must be equipped with an ON-OFF switch finished feet attached to the base. and having a Type prevents vibration from the motor being transmitted to the rest A Durometer hardness no greater than 60 as measured on the of the apparatus. 1. The curved tool is not considered to be as accurate as the flat tool cam and follower so that the cup height remains constant over the last 20 described in 6.1. Other cam designs also provide this feature and NOTE 3—Prior to the adoption of this test method. and a means of conveniently positioning the cam for height- 6. there are some data which indicate that typically the 6. The results obtained using a motor-driven to 215 g. 1 Hand-Operated Liquid Limit Device 3 . and designed such that the cup and cup hanger features and critical dimensions of the device.3 Cup. 1 shows the essential mm (0.2 since it does not control the depth of the soil in the liquid to 45° of cam rotation.) dimensions are maintained. without developing an upward or 6.1. See Fig. 1 is for uniformly accelerated (parabolic) motion after contact and assures that the cup has liquid limit device. no velocity at drop off. constructed in a way that allows convenient liquid limit is slightly increased when the flat tool is used instead of the but secure adjustment of the height-of-drop of the cup to 10 curved tool. incorporate the gage for adjusting the height-of-drop of the NOTE 2—The cam and follower design in Fig.394 in. zero tool was specified as part of the apparatus for performing the liquid limit velocity at drop off can be assured by carefully filing or machining the test.1 revolutions per second and must be isolated from the 6. brass. 2 for definition and determination of 6.6 Motor Drive (Optional)—As an alternative to the but no more than 90 %. The device may assembly is only attached to the carriage by means of a be operated by either a hand crank or electric motor.5 Carriage.1 Base—A hard rubber base having a Type D Durometer the height-of-drop of the cup.1.). Details for measuring the resilience a motor to turn the cam. including cup hanger. D 4318 drop onto a hard rubber base. Fig. 2 6 0. Such a motor must turn the cam at of the base are given in Annex A1.4 Cam—Designed to raise the cup smoothly and con. 6. The tool may. if the cam-follower lift pattern is not known. the device may be equipped with base with the feet attached. removable pin. over a distance of at least operated device. but need not. FIG. 3. However. Conduct resilience tests on the finished hand crank shown in Fig. supporting the base. the cam.

Aluminum or stainless steel cans 2.6 Mixing and Storage Container—A container to mix the design of the tool may vary provided the gage will rest securely soil specimen (material) and store the prepared material. or plastic dish about 11. glass.) high by 5 cm (2 in. and without bevel or radius. 4. the container shall not contaminate which contacts the cup during adjustment is straight. and the edge During mixing and storage.5 Balance. conforming to Specification D 4753.1 Ground Glass Plate—A ground glass plate at least 30 4 . D 4318 FIG. 3 Grooving Tool (Optional Height-of-Drop Gage Attached) 6.01 g).4 cm 6.) wide.7 Plastic Limit: 6. Class 6.5 cm (1 in. The 6. on the base without being susceptible to rocking.) in diameter and a plastic bag large enough to enclose containers with snug-fitting lids for water content specimens.3 Gage—A metal gage block for adjusting the height-of. having the dimensions shown in Fig.7. storage. the dish and be folded over is adequate.4 Water Content Containers—Small corrosion-resistant (41⁄2 in. and prevent moisture loss during mm (3⁄8 in. GP1 (readability of 0. A porcelain. drop of the cup. at least 10 the material in any way. 2 Calibration for Height-of-Drop FIG.) in diameter are appropriate. 6.

the resultant sample represents the actual construction case.) diameter sieve. J. Reagents and Materials threads. FIG.) to the soil during the rolling process.1 Samples may be taken from any location that satisfies 6.) long. or similar container for adding controlled amounts of water to soil and washing fines from coarse particles. capable of continuously maintaining a temperature of 110 6 5°C (230 6 9°F) throughout the drying chamber.7.) thick for rolling plastic limit 7. plate (see 16.) square by 1 cm (3⁄8 in. this test method. and Griekspoor.6 cm (3 FIG.. Samples in which sieve conforming to the requirements of Specification E 11 and specimens will be prepared using the wet-preparation method (10. either distilled or demineralized water may be 5.10 Wash Bottle. September 1992. flat-bottomed. L. 6. 10) sieve meeting the same requirements may also be needed. D. GTJODJ. and D 420 cm (3⁄4 in.00-mm (No. 8. 8. 4 Height-of-Drop Gage in. A 2. preferably of the forced-draft type.1 Where sampling operations have preserved the natural 7 The plastic limit-rolling device is covered by a patent (U.11 Drying Oven. Practices C 702. 6.1.) diameter.” Geotechnical Testing Journal. D 75. M.) deep. Patent No.1 Purity of Water—Where distilled water is referred to in made of acrylic conforming to the dimensions shown in Fig.1) must be kept at their as–sampled water content prior to preparation.027. 6. the various strata must be kept 5.12 Washing Pan. 40) from various types of sampling operations.2 Plastic Limit-Rolling Device (optional)—A device 7. at least 7.8 The type of unglazed paper attached to the top and bottom used. which you may attend.660). combine the various components in such proportions that of a Soil by Means of a Rolling Device. round. and slightly larger at the bottom than a 20. should be used as guides for selecting and preserving samples 6. paper fragments.3-cm (8-in. See Note 7 covering the use of tap water.) wide.7.8 Spatula—A spatula or pill knife having a blade about 2 testing needs. 284–287.) above the mesh. Your comments will receive careful consideration at a meeting of the responsible interest with as little contamination as possible from other subcommittee. cm (12 in. etc. D 4318 having a rim at least 5 cm (2 in.S. “Determination of the Plastic Limit tion. 3. thermostatically controlled.2) shall be such that it does not add foreign 8. Where a mixture of materials will be used in construc- 8 Bobrowski. pp. 6. Vol 15. and about 10 to 13 cm (3 to 4 in. strata. 425-µm (No.2. However. 5 Plastic Limit-Rolling Device 5 .9 Sieve(s)—A 200-mm (8-in.. No.7 Interested parties are invited to submit information regarding the separated and tests performed on the particular stratum of identification of an alternative(s) to this patented item to ASTM Headquarters. Sampling and Specimen matter (fibers. Jr. stratification of a sample.

2 for proper location of the gage relative to the cup during NOTE 6—The time taken to adequately mix a soil will vary greatly. 10. starting the test. about 20 and 30 blows.2).1. placing a piece of carbon paper on the base and 10. 40) Sieve: specific points. adjustment.1.2) in a pan or dish and allowing the cup to drop several times will mark the contact spot. the height-of-drop is ready to be checked.4 Wear of Cam—The cam shall not be worn to an small percentages (less than about 15 %) of coarser material by extent that the cup drops before the cup hanger (cam follower) working the material (having the above consistency) through a loses contact with the cam.2 Material Containing Particles Retained on a 425-µm parallel with the axis of the cup hanger pivot.1. If this is the case. readjust the height-of-drop. The depth of the tip of grooving tools can be checked using the 10. For new cups.1. thoroughly remix the soil. and the types of soils would be retained if the washing method described in 10. 10. the cam follower pivot is excessively worn and the worn parts should be replaced. Magnifiers of this type are available from most laboratory supply but remove by hand or by washing. Preparation of Test Specimen 9. If the cup rocks on the gage during this mixed thoroughly in a pan with a spatula or scoop and a checking operation. or it is considered impractical to remove when testing these materials.) deep material to bring it to a consistency that would require about 25 or when the rim of the cup has been reduced to half its original to 35 blows of the liquid limit device to close the groove (Note thickness. companies. prepare 150 to 200 in diameter. shells. If it is point on the rim. Check the following 10. Verify that the cup is firmly attached to the cup 6). impractical to remove the coarser material by hand.1 Determine by visual and manual methods that the 9. one or more sweeps with a scoop through the mixed mass. If using Method A. Slide the height gage under the cup from the front.1. dish. If larger percentages of coarse material are encoun- particles may cause rapid wear of grooving tools. depending on the plasticity and initial water content. The rapidity of wear depends on the the procedure does not distort the sieve or degrade material that material from which the tool is made. the base can g of material by mixing thoroughly with distilled or deminer- be machined to remove the worn spot provided the resurfacing alized water on the glass plate or mixing dish using the spatula.1.1.1 and the If desired. If the wear spot is greater than this.1 Liquid Limit Device—Determine that the liquid limit specimen for testing as described in the following sections. does not make the base thinner than specified in 6. wash the frequently than for other soils. use the same observe whether the gage contacts the cup or the tape. remove 9. 40) more than 3 mm (1⁄8 in.1.2 has little or no material retained on a makes contact should be worn no greater than 10 mm (3⁄8 in. the (materials) may be reduced by the methods of quartering or adjustment is correct.2. (See Fig. tered during mixing.1. After the standing period and immediately before contact with the base rises to a height of 10 6 0. Calibration of Apparatus 10. therefore.3 Place the prepared material in the mixing/storage depth-measuring feature of vernier calipers. check its consistency (adjust if required). Allow the material to the cup to the device and turn the crank until the cup is raised to its soak until all lumps have softened and the fines no longer 6 .2 being tested. cover to prevent 9. during mixing. tools should be inspected more the coarser material by the procedures just described.3 Wear of Cup Hanger—Verify that the cup hanger 10. device is clean and in good working order. During this procedure.1. adjust the cup until simultaneous contact is 8.2 mm. or other convenient device provided frequent and regular basis.) If the material as used for those tests where possible.2 Grooving Tools—Inspect grooving tools for wear on a sheeting. 40) sieve. Free flowing samples ringing or clicking sound is heard without the cup rising from the gage.2 If.1. Initial mixing times NOTE 5—A convenient procedure for adjusting the height-of-drop is as of more than 30 min may be needed for stiff. 40) sieve. If a faint passing the 425-µm (No. or other fragile particles.1 Material Passes the 425-µm (No.1.1 Inspection of Wear: method of specimen preparation is specified (10.2 Wear of Cup—Replace the cup when the grooving mixing.1 Wet Preparation Method—Except where the dry 9. follows: place a piece of masking tape across the outside bottom of the cup 10. See Fig. If no ringing is heard or if the cup rises from the splitting. a small percentage of material is pivot does not bind and is not worn to an extent that allows encountered that would be retained on a 425-µm (No. Always remove tape after completion of representative portion scooped from the total mass by making adjustment operation.2. small amount of water to soften the material before the start of 9.1 mm (0.1.) 425-µm (No. 40) Sieve: base. tape and cup are both simultaneously contacted.1.1. prepare the 9. use a piece of rubber 9.1.1.2 Specimen—Obtain a representative portion from the made. Attach add sufficient water to cover the material. Check adjustment by turning the crank at 2 revolutions per second total sample sufficient to provide 150 to 200 g of material while holding the gage in position against the tape and cup. soak the material in a mixing/storage dish with a other dimensional relationships are maintained. The edge of the tape away from the cup hanger should bisect the spot on the cup that contacts the (No.) side-to-side movement of the lowest sieve.1. Non-free flowing or cohesive materials shall be gage.004 in.1.1 Wear of Base—The spot on the base where the cup specimen from 8. Soils containing a large proportion of fine sand were used. For Method B. rubber stopper. adjust the water content of the tool has worn a depression in the cup 0. scale.1. remove these particles by hand (if possible). loss of moisture.2 Where data from these test methods are to be used for maximum height. and correlation with other laboratory or field test data. 2. fat clays. using a pocket-sized measuring magnifier equipped with a millimeter do not crush these particles to make them pass a 425-µm sieve.1. the number of blows should be between hanger. and allow to stand (cure) for at least 16 h drop of the cup so that the point on the cup that comes in (overnight). If not.1 Place the specimen (see 8. sample as described in 10. 9. 425-µm sieve. When the coarse particles found NOTE 4—The width of the tip of grooving tools is conveniently checked during mixing are concretions. D 4318 8.1.2 Adjustment of Height-of-Drop—Adjust the height-of.

adjust its water content until the that the dish never becomes sufficiently saturated that it fails to constancy requires about 25 to 35 blows of the liquid limit absorb water into its surface. cut the groove to slightly less than 7 . currents at room temperature.4 If applicable. eliminate the soluble salts from the test specimen.1.2 Dry Preparation Method: more than 100 mg/L of dissolved solids should not be used for either the 10. After 10.2. place a portion(s) uses. the material should be at cutting the groove. thoroughly remix the specimen. the to the surface of the cup throughout its movement. 6. material has been disaggregated and material retained on the gregate fine soil lumps that have not slaked by gently rubbing 425-µm sieve consists of individual particles.2.1.00-mm sieve. Stop this procedure when most of the fine that fine material is washed from the coarser particles. When the coarse particles coarse sand particles are present.2. Stir this mixture and transfer it to a water. cover to NOTE 7—In some cases.00-mm (No.2. and. Alternatively. Thoroughly mix this material or the above material the mixing/storage dish.2 at room temperature or in soaking or washing operations. an oven at a temperature not exceeding 60°C until the soil 10. or other possible with small quantities of water from a wash bottle. such as washing. squeeze it down. through the soil on a line joining the allowing the mixture to dry at room temperature while mixing highest point to the lowest point on the rim of the cup. without any loss tipped pestle or in some other way that does not cause of material. maintaining the tool perpendicular liquid limit device to close the groove.1 Dry the specimen from 8. If gravel or breakdown of individual particles. Keep the unused soil in filter paper.2 When the material contains a large percentage of clods will pulverize readily.1. 10) sieve nested atop the 425-µm sieve. follow fine material through and remove the 2. transfer the soil-water mixture over a a 425-µm (No. (c) decanting clear MULTIPOINT LIQUID LIMIT—METHOD A water from surface of the suspension. Place the 425-µm 10. (d) filtering in a Büchner funnel or using filter candles. Using a spatula. When on the glass plate. 40) sieve until it approaches the liquid limit.3 and 10. Unless 16 h. stir the material often of the prepared soil in the cup of the liquid limit device at the enough to prevent over-drying of the fringes and soil pinnacles point where the cup rests on the base. rinse as many of these as found during pulverization are concretions.2 Pulverize the material in a mortar with a rubber- sieve in the bottom of the clean pan. Adjust the water content of the mixture. if necessary. 425-µm sieve. by adding 11. finer fraction. hold the grooving tool against the surface of a water content that would require about 25 to 35 blows of the the cup and draw in an arc. use other means) to retain the moisture in the soil.1. cut the groove with several strokes of the 9 S and S 595 filter paper available in 320-mm circles has proven satisfactory.2. the following washing operation in increments.4 Place material retained on the 425-µm (No. if necessary. and allow to stand (cure) for at least results if tap water is used in the soaking and washing operations. If using Method A. possible. demineralized water should be used. washing and removing as much of the coarser material as 10.2. 40) sieve. (b) exposing to warm air currents from a source such as an electric hair dryer. Take care to eliminate air bubbles from the soil pat.5 Proceed as described in 10. tapering to form an approximately horizontal surface. the cations of salts present in tap water will exchange with the natural cations in the soil and significantly alter the test prevent loss of moisture.2. Reduction of water content may be accomplished by one or a Discard material retained on the 425-µm sieve.1. and fragile particles. but remove by hand or other suitable 2. As a general rule. 11. washing no more material should have a dry appearance when pulverized.2 Form a groove in the soil pat by drawing the tool. if necessary. than 0. the mixed material in the storage dish.5 kg (1 lb) of material at one time. do not crush these particles to make them pass discard. them over the sieve with the fingertips.2.2. or (e) draining in a colander or 11.1-10. If a plaster of Paris dish is used. but form 10. remove the material retained on the the pat with as few strokes as possible. D 4318 adhere to the surfaces of the coarse particles (Note 7). Discard material retained on the 425-µm sieve.4. For materials containing soluble spread it into the cup to a depth of about 10 mm at its deepest salts. For Method B. Thoroughly dry dish between device to close the groove.2.) above the surface of the 425-µm sieve. small increments of distilled or demineralized water or by beveled edge forward. However. In soils where a groove cannot be made in one stroke without tearing the soil. 40) sieve. Pour this suspension into a dish containing the 425–µm (No. distilled or the test. 40) sieve operation by raising the sieve above the water surface and after the final pulverizing operations in a dish and soak in a rinsing the material retained with a small amount of clean small amount of water. add sufficient water to the pan to bring the level to shaking the sieve by hand to assure thorough separation of the about 13 mm (1⁄2 in. water containing 10. Return the material retained on the 425-µm sieve Agitate the slurry by stirring with the fingers while raising and to the pulverizing apparatus and repeat the pulverizing and lowering the sieve in the pan and swirling the suspension so sieving operations.1 Thoroughly remix the specimen (soil) in its mixing strength filter paper. catching the water and any suspended fines in 10. rinse the means. Procedure plaster of Paris dish lined with high retentivity. Cover the dish with a wet towel (or on the glass plate or in the mixing dish using the spatula. 40) sieve. Complete the washing 10.2.2. See Fig. number of blows should be between about 20 and 30. shells.3 Reduce the water content of the material passing the washing pan.1. the dry soil previously sieved through the 425-µm sieve. Alternatively.9 high wet. use a method of water reduction (a or b) that will not point. the soil-water mixture onto the sieve. Disag.3 Separate the material on a 425-µm (No. Transfer. Put.1. During evaporation and cooling. and on the surface of the mixture. If a washing procedure is used. Disaggregation is expedited if the particles retained on the 425-µm (No. After the standing period and immediately before starting it is known that such cations are not present in the tap water. take care cup. grooving tool.4. perform the material is not allowed to completely dry. combination of the following methods: (a) exposing to air 10.

9 to 2.3 Verify that no crumbs of soil are present on the base or bubble has caused premature closing of the groove. See Fig. If. water content. If a 11. reform the the underside of the cup. number of blows required to close the groove is always less FIG.). 7. 7 Soil Pat After Groove Has Closed 8 .3 at a higher groove along a distance of 13 mm (1⁄2 in.4 Verify that an air bubble has not caused premature bring the groove to final dimensions.).1-11. repeat 11. after several trials at successively higher NOTE 8—Use of a scale is recommended to verify that the groove has water contents. have flowed together with approximately the same shape.1 drops per second until the two that lost in the grooving operation and repeat 11. D 4318 FIG. Lift and drop the cup by turning the soil in the cup. Exercise extreme care to closing of the groove by observing that both sides of the groove prevent sliding the soil pat relative to the surface of the cup.3. adding a small amount of soil to make up for crank at a rate of 1. If the halves of the soil pat come in contact at the bottom of the soil slides on the surface of the cup.1-11. the soil pat continues to slide in the cup or if the closed 13 mm (1⁄2 in. 6 Grooved Soil Pat in Liquid Limit Device required dimensions with a spatula and use the grooving tool to 11.

2 If the difference between the two trial liquid-limit from each trial in accordance with Test Method D 2216. adding a small 20 0.000 26 1.979 22 0.973 amount of soil to make up for that lost in the grooving and 21 0.1 Determine the liquid limit for each water content spatula.5 Record the number of drops. 16.1-11. N. repeat the test as 11. and the number of drops as abscissas on hands by spreading or mixing continuously on the glass plate a logarithmic scale.1. before the test.0 g ONE-POINT LIQUID LIMIT—METHOD B portion. 11.5. 11. limit test. Procedure (hand or rolling device): 13. one 14.1 Select a 20-g or more portion of soil from the material 12.1-11.995 drops or no more than two drops difference. Draw the best straight line through the or in the mixing/storage dish. 13. and successively lower numbers of blows to close the groove. %. and cover. given trial.8 Determine the water content. D 4318 than 25. Remove a slice of soil approximately the width of the 14.985 water content sampling orientations. extending from edge to edge of the soil cake at right specimen using one of the following equations: S D angles to the groove and including that portion of the groove in N 0. reform the soil in the cup. If the test is to be interrupted for more than about 15 PLASTIC LIMIT minutes. percent designation).005 water content specimen. remix the entire specimen 27 1. of the trials shall be for a closure requiring 25 to 35 blows. and.121 which the soil flowed together. to the nearest whole number (without the requiring 15 to 25 blows. after the second mixing 12. N k 13. Form the selected portion into an ellipsoidal mass.1 Plot the relationship between the water content. Reduce the water content of the soil to a semilogarithmic graph with the water content as ordinates on consistency at which it can be rolled without sticking to the the arithmetical scale. select a 1.8. is the average of the two trial for closure between 20 and 30 blows.2 Immediately after removing a water content specimen (Number of Drops) (Factor for Liquid Limit) as described in 11. Calculation groove.2-11. soil) should be performed immediately after completion of the test.1 The liquid limit.2 Roll the soil mass by one of the following methods 13.1. The drying process may be three or more plotted points.5.022 of blows to vary.6 for at least two additional trials producing Wn = water content for given trial.1 Proceed as described in 11. record that the liquid limit could not be determined. values is greater than one percentage point. %. 16.5 to 2. or from the soil remaining after completion of and the corresponding number of drops.1 Determination of initial masses (container plus moist described in 13. 28 1.7 Remix the entire soil specimen in the dish adding where: LLn = one point liquid limit for given trial. or by blotting with paper. Paper such as hard surface paper toweling or the soil and round to the nearest whole number. that does not add any tion of the line with the 25-drop abscissa as the liquid limit of fiber to the soil. adjust the and Number of Drops Causing Closure of Groove water content of the soil and repeat the procedure. One k = factor given in Table 1. or 11. secure another 25 1. Wn. Otherwise. Wash and dry the cup and grooving tool and reattach the cup to the LLn 5 k · Wn carriage in preparation for the next trial. 11. Calculation prepared for the liquid limit test. distilled water to increase the water content of the soil and N = number of blows causing closure of the groove for decrease the number of blows required to close the groove. required to close the 14. Preparation of Test Specimen 15. of the soil specimen 14. Repeat 11.1 From this plastic-limit specimen. 9 . Computational high wet-strength filter paper is adequate. of the cup on a the liquid limit test. place in a container of known LLn 5 Wn · 25 mass. electric fan.1. if 23 0. methods may be substituted for the graphical method for fitting a straight line to the data and determining the liquid limit. Procedure 16. either.990 the second closing of the groove requires the same number of 24 0.5 except that the number of blows required to close the groove shall be 20 to 30. Wn. Repeat 11.014 29 1.6 Return the soil remaining in the cup to the dish. accelerated by exposing the soil to the air current from an 12.2 Take the water content corresponding to the intersec. 15. N.8. TABLE 1 Factors for Obtaining Liquid Limit from Water Content If less than 20 or more than 30 blows are required.009 and repeat.3 Determine water contents of specimens in accordance and report the soil as nonplastic without performing the plastic with 11.018 NOTE 9—Excessive drying or inadequate mixing will cause the number 30 1. and one trial for a closure liquid-limit values. determine the mass of the water content specimens already obtained at the time of the interruption.1 through 14. LL.

The amount of hand or longer be rolled into a 3.2.2. break the thread into several pieces. the an outside tubular layer that starts splitting at both ends. Place the top plate in provided the soil has been previously rolled into a thread 3. It finger pressure required will vary greatly according to the soil has no significance if the thread breaks into threads of shorter being tested. that is. Some soils fall apart that the top plate comes into contact with the side rails within in numerous small aggregations of particles. reform into an ellipsoidal mass. then reducing the rate of rolling or the forward and back to the starting position.2-mm diameter thread (see Fig.2 mm.2-mm final diameter. With these soils. hand pressure.). During this rolling process. the thread occurs. or both.) in length. The only requirement for continuing the test is that best rolled under the outer edge of the palm or at the base of the these threads can be reformed into an ellipsoidal mass and thumb. This rate of rolling may have to be decreased for very fragile soils. until the thread crumbles each stroke so that its diameter reaches 3. 8). particularly as they NOTE 12—In most cases. roll a smaller mass of soil (even if it is less than that falls apart in many small platy particles. Squeeze the pieces 16. The end(s) the soil thread(s) shall not contact the side rail(s). the midpoint between the slide rails.2 mm. Simultaneously apply a slight mm in diameter. to 3⁄8 in.2 mm. D 4318 16. into a series of barrel-shaped segments about 3. knead between the thumb and first finger of each fingers and the ground-glass plate with just sufficient pressure hand. to reduce the total amount of deformation for the proper diameter.2 Rolling Device Method—Attach smooth unglazed ellipsoidal mass nearer to the required 3. this shall be considered a satisfactory end point. Fragile soils of low plasticity are diameter. two soil masses (threads) can be rolled approach the plastic limit.2 mm in with increasing plasticity.1 Hand Method—Roll the mass between the palm or together. Fat clay soils require mentioned in Section 16. It is permis- comparison with the soil thread to ascertain when the thread has reached sible.2-mm diameter by allowing the strokes per minute. 8 Lean Clay Soil at the Plastic Limit 10 . The thread shall be further deformed on together. Place the soil mass on the bottom plate at than 3. the thread breaks simultaneously in the plastic limit-rolling device. feebly plastic soils by making the initial diameter of the 16. and re-roll. If this splitting progresses toward the middle. paper to both the top and bottom plates of the plastic If crumbling occurs when the thread has a diameter greater limit-rolling device.) diameter rod or tube is useful for frequent further deformation until the thread falls apart.3 When the diameter of the thread becomes 3.5 mm (1⁄8 16. others may form 2 min (see Notes 10 and 12). kneading and re-rolling. Continue this to roll the mass into a thread of uniform diameter throughout its alternate rolling to a thread 3.2-mm (1⁄8-in. counting a stroke as one complete motion of the hand thread to reach 3. gathering length (see Note 10). however.4 Gather the portions of the crumbled thread together FIG. taking under the pressure required for rolling and the soil can no no more than 2 min (see Note 11).2 contact with the soil mass(es). much pressure to deform the thread. Crumbling of the thread will manifest itself downward force and back and forth motion to the top plate so differently with the various types of soil. rolled out again.2 mm in diameter. the required pressure typically increases length.2 to 9. while continuing the rolling without NOTE 11—A 3.1). and finally. Roll each of these shorter threads to 3.2 mm (1⁄8 in. The operator shall at no time attempt to NOTE 10—A normal rate of rolling for most soils should be 80 to 90 produce failure at exactly 3.

0-g portion of soil from the report the soil as nonplastic. 40) sieve. 20.6 39. PL.5 to 2. A description 18. that is. If the 1013. 11 . 425-µm (No. i. while other laboratories performed a 18. Determine the water content of the soil differs from the multipoint method.7 3 3 5 ML 12 11 11 27.2 Any special specimen selection process used.8 2 1 2 CL 14 13 13 33.e. It is calculated as 2 1.1 These estimates of precision are based on the results able range for two results listed in Table 2 for single-operator of the interlaboratory program conducted by the ASTM Ref- precision. Calculation results obtained by these test methods on a range of soil types 17.4 19.1 Both LL and PL are whole numbers.0 1. 16. contained in the containers in accordance with Test Method D 2216. Results of two removal of sand lenses from undisturbed sample.1. Column 4. NP.2 1. The number of significant digits/decimal places presented is equal to that prescribed by this test method or Practice D 6026. such as definition of d2s see Footnote C in Table 2.10 In this program. and in the 19. 19.4 Liquid limit. Column 5. Precision and Bias 20.1. 1. were obtained in accordance with plastic limit is equal to or greater than the liquid limit.3 0. report Practice E 691.1.1 Compute the average of the two water contents (trial are given in Tables 2 and 3. In performing these test methods.8 20. as defined by Practice E 177.1.4 4.3 Report sample as air-dried if the sample was air-dried before or during preparation. and 20. using the same equipment. plastic–limit specimen and repeat the operations described in 19. or if the shown in Table 2. This Method A and the Wet Preparation Method (except soil was value is the plastic limit.5).5 0. and plasticity index to the 10 Supporting data are available from ASTM Headquarters.1.5 1 1 1 D D ML 12 11 11 27.6 39. the standard deviation and acceptable range of results can not have more decimal places than the input data.6 1. TABLE 2 Summary of Test Results from Triplicate Test Laboratories (Atterberg Limits) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Number of Triplicate Test Average ValueA (Percentage Standard DeviationB Acceptable Range of Two C Soil Type Laboratories Points) (Percentage Points) Results (Percentage Points) Type Test LL PL PI LL PL PI LL PL PI LL PL PI Single-Operator Results (Within-Laboratory Repeatability) CH 13 13 13 59.9 4 3 5 A The number of significant digits and decimal places presented are representative of the input data. In accordance with Practice D 6026. NP. or Wet or Dry Preparation Method).1. or if container. In addition. Judgment is required PI 5 LL 2 PL when applying these estimates to another soil and method used where: (Method A or B.6 0.9 13.1.3 0.1.2 1. performed by each triplicate test laboratory on each soil type.1 0. omitting the percent designation. plastic limit.3 2.1. the value presented can have the same number of decimal places as the standard deviation.1 and 16.1 Precision—Criteria for judging the acceptability of test 17.1. the single-operator d2s limits shown in Table 2.3 0..960 · =2 · 1s.4D 4. Request RR: D18- nearest whole number. D For the ML soil.4 23.1D 1. properly conducted tests performed by different operators and 19. which recommends each testing laboratory the soil as nonplastic. erence Soils and Testing Program. if it least 6 g of soil. Report the same material.0 2.4 0.6 2 1 2 Multilaboratory Results (Between-Laboratory Reproducibility) CH 13 13 13 59. 20. C Acceptable range of two results is referred to as the d2s limit. D 4318 and place in a container of known mass.4 23.1-16.1 Report the following information: shortest practical period of time should not differ by more than 19. perform a minimum of three replicate tests. B Standard deviation is calculated in accordance with Practice E 691 and is referred to as the 1s limit. For 19. LL = liquid limit (whole number). (2. Immediately cover the liquid limit or plastic limit tests could not be performed.8 20. The difference between two properly conducted tests should not exceed this limit. Calculation single test per soil type (single-test laboratory).8.2 The data in Table 2 are based on three replicate tests PL = plastic limit (whole number). Repeat the test if the difference air-dried) were used. the plastic limit is equal to or greater than the liquid limit. some PLASTICITY INDEX laboratories performed three replicate tests per soil type (triplicate test laboratory). 18.1 Sample identifying information.5 Select another 1.4 19. See 11.5 to make another container holding at 19.1 Calculate the plasticity index as follows: of the soils tested is given in 20. Results of two properly conducted tests performed by the same operator on 19.4 percentage points. 2 out of 14 triplicate test laboratories reported the soil as nonplastic.8 3 0. If either the The single operator and multilaboratory standard deviation liquid limit or plastic limit could not be determined.7 0.9 1.5 0.6 Repeat 16.9 13. even if that result has more significant digits than the standard deviation. between the two trial plastic limits is greater than the accept. plastic limits) and round to the nearest whole number.5.1. The precision estimates vary with soil type and method(s) used. and 16.2 0.5 Estimate of the percentage of sample retained on the 16.6 Procedure by which liquid limit was performed.2 until the container has at least 6 g of soil.5 4 6 7 CL 14 13 13 33.

plasticity index. diameter steel ball. PI=39. of the soils are given. CH. LL=60.3 1. test methods. release the ball by pulling the magnet out clear acrylic plastic tube and cap. grayish brown. the local names A For column footnotes. A1. liquid limit. The data for each soil type in Table 3 are based upon the first test results from the triplicate test laboratories 21. therefore. of the cap. CL. light brown. Table 3 is derived from test data that represents Type Test LL PL PI LL PL PI LL PL PI common practice. The small bar magnet is held in the of the ball. Resilience Tester A1. Local name—Vicksburg Buckshot Clay CL—Lean clay. the soils used in the program are described below in ML 18 27.2 1. bias cannot be determined. Column 5. 99 % fines. soil had been air dried on different days should not differ by more than the multilabo.9 13. Results 21. Local name—Vicksburg Silt many of the laboratories performed only a single test on each 20. The device consists of a base with one hand. B For the ML soil.4 39. ML. ML—Silt.5 2. turned upright and placed on the top surface of the base to be 12 . Keywords and the single test results from the other laboratories.2 Bias—There is no acceptable reference value for these soil type.1.6 2 4 4 sults. 20.1. 89 % fines. tion industry. Average Value Deviation Results 20.9 20. This is common practice in the design and construc. soil had been air dried and pulverized. LL=27.4 Table 2 presents a rigorous interpretation of triplicate Number of Test (Percentage (Percentage (Percentage test data in accordance with Practice E 691 from pre-qualified Soil Type Laboratories Points) Points) Points) laboratories.2B 3.1 6 7 9 CL 24 33.1. Use the scale markings on the outside of the and a small bar magnet.8 1. D 4318 TABLE 3 Summary of Single-Test Result from Each Laboratory laboratories with different operators using different equipment (Atterberg Limits)A and on different days should not vary by more than the d2s (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) limits shown in Table 3. Local name—Annapolis Clay ratory d2s limits shown in Table 2. placing the recess of the cap and the steel ball is fixed into the recess in the tester in a different location for each drop. soil had been air dried 20. In addition.5 Soil Types—Based on the multilaboratory test re- CH 24 59. The cylinder is then conducted at room temperature. LL=33.3 19. The cylinder may be cemented to the cylinder to determine the highest point reached by the bottom cap or threaded as shown. Column 5. see Table 3.3 1. PI=4.1 activity. 6 out of 24 laboratories reported the soil as nonplastic.1. and pulverized. Holding the tube lightly against the liquid limit device device bases is shown in Fig.3 In the ASTM Reference Soils and Testing Program.4 0. Tests should be underside of the cap with the bar magnet. The results in Table 2 and Acceptable Standard Range of Two Table 3 are dissimilar because the data sets are different. a 5⁄16-in. gray.7 3. Repeat the drop at least three times.1 A device for measuring the resilience of liquid limit tested. 99 % fines. CH—Fat clay. PI=13.1 23.1 2. Atterberg limits.9B 1. of two properly conducted tests performed by two different plastic limit ANNEX (Mandatory Information) A1.8 4 3 5 accordance with Practice D 2487. and pulverized.

defined that the calculated test (5) In Apparatus. and all subsequent notes were renumbered. D 4318 FIG. replaced “weight” with “mass” or whenever applicable.1. not metric. a new Note dish.”. reworded to remove such terms as “weight. A1.” 1 was added referencing Practice D 3740 in accordance with (6) In Section 8. water content with such terms as “its” or “as-sampled. and indicate this container/dish may be used to mix the soil. (14) Appendix X1 was changed to Annex A1. to “mixing and storage container” and subsection reworded to (10) References to Practice C 670 were deleted in text. (3) Where applicable.2. and E 691 were Remaining sections in the standard. changed title to include “Specimen. covering the wet and dry preparation methods were reworded (2) In Scope covering “units. for resilience tester are in inch-pound. under 6.” when the topic (7) Under Preparation of Test Specimen: The subsections covers how one is to perform a task.6.” “weighing. In addition.” clarified that the standard units to include the required number of blows for Method A and B.1 on Precision was revised completely. and the scribe 13 .” (9) In the calculation sections. and the specimen before processing using the wet or dry (13) In Table 1.4. Section 13 on “weigh. and replaced “grains” with “particle.” Preparation of Test Specimen was removed since the informa- (4) Where applicable.” and D18 policy. references to Practices D 3740. were incorporated. Method B. preparation method. where applicable reworded to distinguish between the sample (12) Section 20. E 177. where applicable.1 Resilience Tester SUMMARY OF CHANGES Committee D18 has identified the location of selected changes to this standard since the last issue (1998) that may impact the use of this standard. corrected the factor for 20 number of drops. reworded to indicate “storage dish” may also be the “mixing (11) At the end of the Significance and Use section. D 6026. “storage container” was changed result is rounded to the nearest whole number. (1) Replaced “procedure” with “method. used the term “material” instead of soil or sample. replaced “natural” as an adjective to tion given in that section was moved to 10.” or (8) Under One-Point Liquid Limit.

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