Determining Water Content In Soil – Oven Drying Method

Posted in Civil Engineering Tests | Email This Post Email This Post |
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This test is done to determine the water content in soil by oven drying method as per IS: 2720 (Part II) – 1973. The water content (w) of a soil sample is equal to the mass of water divided by the mass of solids.

Apparatus required :-
i) Thermostatically controlled oven maintained at a temperature of 110 ± 5oC
ii) Weighing balance, with an accuracy of 0.04% of the weight of the soil taken
iii) Air-tight container made of non-corrodible material with lid
iv) Tongs

The soil specimen should be representative of the soil mass. The quantity of the specimen taken would depend upon the gradation and the maximum size of particles as under:

Procedure to determine Water Content In Soil By Oven Drying Method
i) Clean the container, dry it and weigh it with the lid (Weight ‘W1‘).

ii) Take the required quantity of the wet soil specimen in the container and weigh it with the lid (Weight ‘W2‘).

iii) Place the container, with its lid removed, in the oven till its weight becomes constant (Normally for 24hrs.).


iv) When the soil has dried, remove the container from the oven, using tongs.

v) Find the weight ‘W3‘ of the container with the lid and the dry soil sample.

The water content
w = [W2-W3] / [W3 -W1]*100%
An average of three determinations should be taken. A sample calculation is shown below


More Entries :
  • ahmed November 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    can u tel me what’s difference between oven tempreture for organic and inorganic soil

    • ankit tilokta March 3, 2017 at 9:02 am

      for organic- 60*celcius(beyond this CO2 form)

  • Kamran January 10, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Good test

  • Amardeep Kumar March 25, 2018 at 7:42 am


  • Malvin March 27, 2018 at 4:09 am

    Moisture content formula not making any sense. Percentage content should be mass of water divided by total mass. How is it that we use dry mass in the division? Mathematically, it’s not making sense.

    • Daniel Alamanda phillips November 19, 2018 at 10:48 am

      yr right. Moisture content to be reported for the water % in original material wt, not on the dried material

  • Post a comment

1 2