Paving Basics | The Origin & Uses of Liquid Asphalt

Liquid asphalt has a multitude of uses that may make it advantageous for your business. Keep reading to learn more about liquid asphalt and how it can help with your paving needs!


Liquid asphalt originates from petroleum crude oil. The heaviest part of the crude mix is the asphalt itself. There are three methods used to extract the asphalt from the crude. The first method is called blending. In this method, the asphalt is mixed with a cutback, a solvent from petroleum. The second method is heating. Special refineries called asphalt cement plants heat the crude to a point where the elements separate. This is also called binding. The third, and final, method is emulsification. In emulsification, water is suspended and used to bind the rock, gravel, and other hardy materials together. Take a close look and you may even spot some seashells in the mix. This final mix is commonly referred to as the aggregate. 


There are liquid asphalt deposits all over the world. In North America, there is a layer stretching from Utah to Alberta, Canada. This is the biggest deposit in the world and covers roughly 55,000 square miles. For reference, this is about the size of New York and New England put together. Internationally, there are large deposits in Trinidad and Tobago, the Dead Sea, and Venezuela. However, deposits within unconsolidated sandstones can be found all over the place. The Middle East is another hotspot for liquid asphalt deposits. The Sumerians began using it around 6000 B.C. here. They wanted a material to use for caulking and waterproofing ships, and it probably worked very well for this. Other ancient civilizations used liquid asphalt for similar purposes. Whether it was building blocks, farming irrigation, temples, or water supply reservoirs. Liquid asphalt has and will continue to be one of the most important resources on Earth. 

Fun Fact

Everyone knows about the famous Egyptian religious practice of mummification. Did you know, asphalt played a pivotal role in this ceremony? The ancient Egyptians would soak the wrappings used for the body in asphalt before applying them. This fortified the minerals in the wrappings and allowed for a more secure fit after application. 

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Looking for a new asphalt parking lot or have questions on aftercare? Pro-Pave, Inc. is a premier commercial concrete and asphalt paving company serving general contractors, property managers, and HOAs in the Mid-Atlantic. We are Class A-licensed, VDOT-certified, and fully bonded/insured for jobs of all sizes. 

We work with many commercial clients, including federal, state, and local governments; commercial property owners; K-12 schools; higher education institutions; military groups; retail stores; and more.

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