The dark, brownish-black bituminous resins occur naturally and are produced as byproducts of oil refineries. Ancient sources for asphalt include Egypt, the north end of the Dead Sea, the Is river northwest of Babylon, and the Greek island of Zante. Gilsonite is the hardest, most brittle variety. Some softer, more elastic varieties are Trinidad, Barbados, California, and Egyptian asphalts. They were often collected from pits or lakes and thus were sometimes called lake asphalts. Asphalts are soluble in oils and waxes and can act as a plasticizer or a strengthener depending on the hardness of the variety. They are composed of aliphatic, alicyclic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Asphalts, under the name of asphaltum and bitumen, were also used as pigments to form a transparent brown film. Unfortunately, thick films with asphaltum often exhibit crawling, alligatoring, and disfigurement. In addition, asphalt was sometimes mixed with dry clay or limestone for use as an adhesive. Asphalt is used commercially for road paving, roof coating and joint sealing. It is also used as a waterproof barrier in sandy soils.
Synonyms and Related Terms
asphaltum; bitumen; Asphalt (Deut.); asfalto (Esp., Port.); asphalte (Fr.); asfalt (Ned., Pol., Sven.); asfalto (It); bitume (It); gilsonite; trinidad; barbados; bentonite; gum asphaltum; coal; coal-tar; anthracite; earth pitch; Trinidad pitch; mineral pitch; lake asphalt
Soluble in carbon disulfide, toluene, chloroform, ether, acetone, turpentine, naptha. Insoluble in water, ethanol, acids and alkalis.
Burns with a bright flame.
|Density||1.0 - 1.2|
Hazards and Safety
Combustible. Inhalation of fumes is toxic.
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