What Does Lime Stabilization Accomplish?

Lime is a common product for a range of soil stabilization projects. Organizations in the construction and civil engineering industries use lime stabilization to modify ground that might otherwise be too dangerous for specific objectives. It is a good idea to know what the process is and how it can accomplish specific goals so you'll want to know the following three things.

What Are You Stabilizing?

Generally, lime is ideal for stabilizing soils with high clay content. These soils can be problematic because they don't drain easily. Likewise, they can have a plastic quality that creates challenges for projects that need the soil to stay in one place. The clay is frequently difficult to compact, too, so you can struggle to pre-empt these problems.

As strange as it sounds, these soils often end up being weak and muddy. No one in the construction or civil engineering trade wants to deal with soil like that if they can avoid it.

Fortunately, lime and these types of soil are highly reactive when they come into contact with each other. After the lime stabilization process, the soil will retain less moisture and develop a more solid platform. It also will swell less during rainy periods, meaning it won't contract and expand as much or as often. The net effect is that you'll have an all-around more stable platform for building structures or manipulating the soil.

How Do You Stabilize Soil with Lime?

A contractor will mix the lime with the soil. There are many potential mixtures using different combinations of materials like calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate. Similarly, the mixture of water with the carbonates varies depending on the requirements of the project.

A lime stabilization company will use heavy equipment to apply the lime to the soil and mix the two together. The lime will then react with the soil at a chemical level by kicking out some ions from the molecules in the clay. Ultimately, this reduces the water-retention capacity of the soil and effectively makes it less clay-like.

What Projects Benefit from Lime Stabilization?

Projects most benefit from lime stabilization when there are concerns about the soil's load-bearing capacity. The process takes a few months to yield some benefits, and the reaction won't finish for two to three years. Consequently, this approach to soil stabilization is best for projects like highway or commercial building construction that often take years just to prepare the soil for work.

For more information, contact a lime stabilization service near you.