What is Asphalt Made Of?

In the world that we live in today, asphalt surrounds us wherever we go. Whether it’s the driveway located out your front door or the road you drive on to get to work, asphalt is never far away. And when we stop to consider how prevalent it really is, questions of how it’s made and how it affects the environment present themselves. Why exactly is asphalt in such prevalent use after all this time?

Why is asphalt so prevalent?

Because of asphalt’s durability, it has become one the most recycled materials in the country. It is also very cost effective, which is another reason why it is so widely used. Its smoothness also lowers the harmful emissions put out by vehicles on the road, and makes for better gas mileage. Additionally, asphalt is quiet and safe since its contact with tires driving on the road is so level and easy. Porous asphalt is a variety that can further benefit the environment, and studies have found that asphalt does not put out harmful emissions or greenhouse gasses. In addition to being used for roads, asphalt can also be used for roofs and weatherproofing.

What exactly is it made out of?

Asphalt has been a common building material for centuries, dating as far back as the ancient Egypt and Rome. Combining gravel, sand, and stones of all sizes — all of which are glued together with asphalt cement — creates asphalt. In modern asphalt production, petroleum is also used. The mixture is heated and poured onto the bed created to lay the road. Next, a steamroller drives over it, compacting it.

Impact on the environment

Because asphalt can be recycled so efficiently, its impact on the environment is low. Preserving natural resources is also a reason that asphalt is the pavement of choice I terms of lowering environmental impact. Porous asphalt is a variety that further benefits the environment. In this type, water seeps through the asphalt into a bed found beneath it, and is then used for other purposes. Asphalt is safe to touch the water that humans come into contact with, as well. Water basins for drinking water are even oftentimes lined with asphalt. Studies have shown that porous asphalt can actually lower the high temperatures found in congested urban areas.

If you are looking to work on your own asphalt project, the importance of finding a contractor who knows their stuff inside and out cannot be stressed enough. The array of options on the market, the pros and cons of each type of asphalt, and which would work best for you—each of these are concepts that your contractor should be well versed in. Putting it down correctly the first time is also very important, and the best contractors will be able to do this for you. In short, look for a contractor who has experience, good communication, the right equipment, and a wide spectrum of knowledge on the subject — because the quality of asphalt installations is also a spectrum, and you want to be on the right end of it!