You are on page 1of 6

Answers to Questions:

1. Why is it not recommended to leave an oven-dried sample in the open air for a long time

before measuring its dry weight?

It is not recommended to leave an oven-dried sample in the open air for a long time before

measuring its dry weight because the oven-dried sample will acquire moisture from the air. This

will affect the recording of the data for the mass of the completely dry soil.

2. Excluding oven drying, are there other methods to determine the water content of soils?

Yes, these methods are: Pycnometer Method, Calcuim Carbide Method, Sand bath

method, Torsion Balance Moisture Meter Method, and Alcohol Method.

3. Is it possible to measure the water content of sands?

Water content of sands can be measured because it is under the variation of soil structures and

water can be absorbed into the body of the particles or retained on the surface of the particle as

a film of moisture.

4. Why do we use a fixed temperature range to dry soils? What is the effect on soils of

microwave drying?

We used a fixed temperature range for drying the soils for us to have a constant dry weight and

understand more the energy requirements of the soil types to drain out moisture in them. Soils

dried by microwave radiation drying had chemical test values different from those of either air‐ or

oven‐dried soils. The effects, however, were not consistent among the four soils tested, indicating

that neither clay content nor organic matter governed the observed response. Some test values

were correlated to accumulative radiation received, but not always for the same analysis or the

same soil. The erratic chemical response soils exhibited to microwave drying indicate that this

method should not be used in any chemical‐test procedure without first establishing a suitable

correlation factor for soil type and drying time.

5. What is the function of the container lid and dessicator when determining the water content

of soil?

The function of the container lid and dessicator when determining the water content of soil is to

prevent the moisture absorption of the soil samples from the air. The sudden temperature change

the soil samples experience when not immediately weighed after drying causes the soil samples

to absorb moisture. This is why they are placed in a dessicator containing dessicants which

preserve the dryness of the soil samples


The water content in soil is an important index used for establishing the relationship between the

behavior of the soil and its properties. The consistency of a fine-grained soil largely depends on its

water content. The water content is also used in expressing the phase relationships of air, water, and

solids in each volume of soil.

In this experiment, the method used is based on removing soil moisture by oven-drying a soil sample

until the weight remains constant. Water content, w, is defined as the ratio, expressed as a

percentage, of the weight of water in each soil mass to the weight of solid particles. It can be

expresses as:

𝑾𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒘𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓
𝒘= × 𝟏𝟎𝟎
𝑾𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒅𝒓𝒚 𝒔𝒐𝒊𝒍

Most natural soils, which are sandy and gravelly in nature, may have water content of about 15-20%.

For fine-grained soils, water contents up to about 50-80% can be found. However, peat and highly

organic soils with water contents up to about 500% are not uncommon.

Interpretation of Results

The acquired average water content for sieve # 4 and sieve # 10 is 4.52 and 3.26, respectively. It

shows a higher water content percentage for coarse grained soils than the fine grained soils. This is

because water can pass more easily through the voids of coarse grained soils. Therefore, as the

sieve no. decreases, bigger volume of soil particles can pass through.


Soil moisture information is valuable to a wide range of government agencies and private companies

concerned with weather and climate, runoff potential and flood control, soil erosion and slope failure,

reservoir management, geotechnical engineering, and water quality. Soil moisture is a key variable

in controlling the exchange of water and heat energy between the land surface and the atmosphere
through evaporation and plant transpiration. As a result, soil moisture plays an important role in the

development of weather patterns and the production of precipitation. Simulations with numerical

weather prediction models have shown that improved characterization of surface soil moisture,

vegetation, and temperature can lead to significant forecast improvements.


In this experiment, we had successfully determined the average water content of soils sieved using

sieve no. 4 and sieve no. 10. Based on the results fine grained soils have lesser percentage of water

content than coarse grained soils. This is because of the possible sources of errors. Errors may have

occurred from the moisture in the surrounding, the change in room temperature, and human errors.

Arnold, J. E. (1999, December 30). Soil Moisture. Retrieved from NASA - Earth Science Office:

Brazil, L. (2015, February 3). Earthzine. Retrieved from Why We Should Start Thinking About Soil


MEA. (n.d.). Learning Centre. Retrieved from What is Soil Moisture?:


Murthy, V. N. (n.d.). Geotechnical Engineering: Principles and Practices of Soil Mechanics and

Foundation Engineering. New York : Marcel Dekker .

Penn State - College of Engineering. (n.d.). Moisture Content. Retrieved from PennState:


Quora. (2017, January 31). What are the various method for determination of water content in soil?

Retrieved from Quora:


University of Washington - College of Environment. (2006). Soil Moisture. Retrieved from Soil

Sample Computation:

Part A:

Trial 1:

W wet = 20.04

Woven = 19.21

Moisture Loss = 20.04 – 19.21 = 0.83 g

Water Content = 19.21 𝑥100 = 4.32%

Trial 2:

W wet = 20.0

Woven = 19.1

Moisture Loss = 20.0 – 19.1 = 0.9 g

Water Content = 19.1 𝑥100 = 4.71%

Part B:

Trial 1:

W wet = 20.01

Woven = 19.73

Moisture Loss = 20.01 – 19.73 = 0.28 g

Water Content = 19.73 𝑥100 = 1.42%

Trial 2:

W wet = 20.03

Woven = 19.06

Moisture Loss = 20.03 – 19.06 = 0.97 g

Water Content = 19.06 𝑥100 = 5.09%