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Determining Water Content In Soil – Oven Drying Method

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


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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

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31 comments on "Determining Water Content In Soil – Oven Drying Method"

k.sankarasubramanian says:

Respected everyone,
I am doing my B.E civil engg in the anna university, i need to submit a project report in this semeter, refer some amazing topics with ideas

Robert Casatro says:

Wich equipment did you use to do your analysis, it is important to know in order to obtain reproducible results

sanjib says:

plz sir told me what is thepermissible limit moisture content of sand.

Abhijeet Kulkarni says:

Plz Told Me How to Check On Site River Sand,20mm Aggregate,Crushed Sand & Red Brick.

Regina says:

What drying temperature is recommended?

Prince Saddam says:

Dear Regine!
The sample should be placed in Oven at constant temperature of 110 degree celsius for 24 hours. But if Gypsum is suspected to be present in sample then temp. should not exceed 80 degree celsius but in this case time period may be increased……

tracy says:

why is the sample oven dried for final result preparation?

jatin kundra says:

really nice explanation…..

Prince Saddam says:

I am student of U.E.T. Lahore and performed this exp in my lab. But here explanation is not sufficient….

Shan Lim says:

I’m student. Can you tole me about how to change back the premix to aggrergate again?
Meaning that is change the wearing course or binder course to aggregate 20mm and 28mm without bitumen.

sadhana says:

i m student at u s p . can you tell me the specific definition of dry mass water content

Yadav Lal Bhattarai says:

For the experiment, it seems that the attachment of photos or drawings are necessary, The drawings and Picture speaks more than a sentence. It gives clear view and Idea what type of instrument/apparatus is required for the particular test.

By: Yadav Lal Bhattarai
Civil Engineering Student
Sharda University, India

YESHU says:

i have got good information.can you send additional examples on determination of water content by oven dry method with its conclusion?

abiodun says:

please i need the pictures of different apparatus used in moisture content

BARCE says:

Iam student in dams&water resources eng. in university of salahaddin .the water content increase or decrease with depth?why?

Igbadumhe Linus Aleogho says:

I am study Civil Eng, i need conclusion for Specific gravity of soil sample test, precaution and error

saritha says:

I am study in civil engg., i need conclusion for water absorption of copper slag

anju singh says:

i am a stdnt of bsc ag 1st year and i just want 2 know about gypsum block in detail with some example

sara says:

i am a stdnt of eng . dam and water resource 3rd year .explain water content decrease or increase with depth?why?

theo fakudze says:

do we really need all these tests in civil eng

rishikesh v korke says:


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