Determining Penetration of Bitumen

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This test is done to determine the penetration of bitumen as per IS: 1203 – 1978. The principle is that the penetration of a bituminous material is the distance in tenths of a mm, that a standard needle would penetrate vertically, into a sample of the material under standard conditions of temperature, load and time. The apparatus needed to determine the penetration of bitumen is

i) Penetrometer

ii) Water bath

iii) Bath thermometer – Range 0 to 44oC, Graduation 0.2oC


Bitumen should be just sufficient to fill the container to a depth of at least 15mm in excess of the expected penetration.

Procedure to determine the penetration of bitumen
i) Soften the bitumen above the softening point (between 75 and 100oC). Stir it thoroughly to remove air bubbles and water.

ii) Pour it into a container to a depth of at least 15mm in excess of the expected penetration.

iii) Cool it at an atmospheric temperature of 15 to 30oC for 11/2 hours. Then place it in a transfer dish in the water bath at 25.0 + 0.1oC for 11/2 hrs.

iv) Keep the container on the stand of the penetration apparatus.

v) Adjust the needle to make contact with the surface of the sample.

vi) Adjust the dial reading to zero.

vii) With the help of the timer, release the needle for exactly 5 seconds.

viii) Record the dial reading.

ix) Repeat the above procedure thrice.


The value of penetration reported should be the mean of not less than three determinations expressed in tenths of a mm.

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  • gulilat January 5, 2010 at 3:58 am

    i got a better knowledge from you.
    thank so much
    addis abeba,ethiopia

  • syed bilal ghazi February 28, 2010 at 11:29 am

    How much anyone has got maximum value of softening point with filler
    bitumen ratio 1.5. I have got upto 62C max.

  • Umair Ajmal March 19, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Hi dear i seek alot about the bitmen from you trough this website tahnks alot fot the shearing your experiance with us

  • karunakar reddy April 10, 2010 at 12:06 am

    why we test the marshall moulds perpandicular to its axis!

  • karunakar reddy April 10, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Is there any relation between penetration test, viscosity test and softening test of bitumen!

    • PAUL February 18, 2011 at 5:50 am

      well, let me answer that and you do the judgment.
      when you look at the penetration test, you will realize that you are trying to grade you bitumen, and the needle will penetrate as far depending on the amount of dilettante present, this wiil also go the same as for the sake of viscosity or flowing ability, and the softening points.

      so my friend, they all depend on the amount of dilettante present in the bitumen, and with a lot of time spent in the laboratory, you will be able to estimate the softening point and viscosity of any bitumen class, by just carrying out the its penetration test

  • rachel April 27, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Been searching on videos on procedures in testing of Bituminous or Asphalt materials so i would be able visualize on how to do the procedures on the said testing. I hope i could have search on what i need. Would be very much appreciated if theres would be videos of such.
    Thank you very much and more power!

  • hona August 4, 2010 at 2:33 am

    thanks for your useful information

  • Mainak Majumder October 14, 2010 at 4:27 am

    what is the significance of penetration grade?

  • PAUL February 18, 2011 at 5:42 am

    yah, why do we test marshal perpendicular to the axis

  • ABBASI April 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm


  • viswatosh May 6, 2011 at 4:45 am

    kindly send the specification of pavement bitumen 60/70(VG-30)

  • Ram Mondal August 23, 2011 at 10:12 am

    how many grams load apply during bitumen penetration test,

  • Sudhangshu Sinha September 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Please confirm me needle penetration 92 is grade 60/70 or grade 80/100 ? What will be the specifications?

  • LS SANKAR February 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm



  • decie May 5, 2012 at 4:06 am

    Hi there, anyone knows the brand of bitumen thermometer and sound level meter? which is accurate enough for testing?

  • wahidsalih November 8, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Dear sir !
    thank you for your information about penetration test prosidure . but it is some diffrent from ASTM please send me that your information source link . thank you very much .

    please give me information about geotechnical bore hole estimation for example for 6 floor building
    tank you very much

  • Osama Al Shammari December 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you very much….
    Please, if you don’t mind, mention a reference of procedure.
    Best regards.

  • john peter September 19, 2013 at 9:37 am

    thanks a lot you guys are wonderful

  • dharmendra patidar June 19, 2014 at 2:15 am

    i want to know about this test that a size of niddle used in penetration test

  • douglas musasa September 14, 2014 at 10:06 am

    thank you so much
    i want to know on the criteria which is used to determine the optimum value of penetration for different polymer modified bitumen samples.
    best regards

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