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To introduce the student to a method of testing to determine the softening point of

bituminous binder by ring and ball method.

The softening point is the temperature at which a material softens beyond some
arbitrary softness which the ring and ball test is used to determine the softening point
of bitumen (in this experiment), asphalt and coal tar. The softening point is useful in
the classification of bitumen.

The ring and ball softening point test involve heating two small samples of
the bitumen in a container of water. The ring is immersed to a depth such that
its bottom is exactly 25 mm above the bottom of the bath. The temperature of the bath
is then gradually increased, causing the bitumen to soften and permitting the ball to
sink eventually to the bottom of the bath. A metal ball is placed on top of each ring
sample. The temperature at which each ball touches a bar near the bottom is called the
“softening point”. A high softening point is preferable to a low one. In addition, if the
two balls drop at temperatures more than 1 degrees apart, the test is invalidated and
must be repeated.

The ring and ball test is important for testing the bitumen material for road or
highway project. Being very simple in concept and equipment the ring and bell has
remained a valuable consistency test for control in refining operations particularly in
the production of air blown bitumen. It is also an indirect measure of viscosity is
evident. The softening point value has particular significance for materials which are
to be used as thick films such as joint and crack filters and roofing material. A high
softening point ensures that they will not flow in services. For bitumen of a
given penetration determined at 25⁰C. The higher the softening point the lower the
temperature sensitivity.

 Ring and ball apparatus

 Thermometer

 Bath

 Bath liquid

 Stirrer

 Heater

 Stopwatch


1. Test specimens were prepared for duplicate determinations. The sample was heated
to a temperature between 75°C and 100°C above the expected softening point,
stirred until completely fluid and free from air bubbles, and filtered, if necessary,
through a BS 300 µm aperture sieve. The rings were Heated to approximately the
same temperature and placed on a metal plate coated with a mixture of equal parts
of glycerol and dextrin. The rings were filled with sufficient molten sample to give
an excess above the top of each ring when cooled. The samples were cooled 30 min
in air, then the sample in the rings were leveled by cutting away the excess with a
warmed knife.

2. The apparatus were assembled with the rings, the appropriate thermometer, and ball
guides in position, and the bath was filled to a height of 50 mm above the upper
surface of the rings with freshly boiled distilled water at a temperature of 5°C.

3. The bath was maintained at the temperature of 5°C for 15 min and using forceps, a
ball previously cooled to a temperature of 5°C was placed in each ball guide.
4. The bath was heated and the liquid was stirred so that the temperature rises at a
uniform rate of 5 ± 0.5°C per minute until the bitumen softens and allowed the ball
to pass through the ring. Any determination in which the rate of temperature rise
does not fall within the specified limits after the first 3 min were rejected.

5. For each ring and ball, the temperature shown by the thermometer at the instant the
sample surrounding the ball touches the bottom plate were recorded.

6. The test was repeated if the difference between values obtained in the duplicate
determinations exceeds 1°C.

7. The mean of the temperatures recorded in duplicate determinations, without

correction for the emergent stem of the thermometer, was recorded as the Softening
Point. For paving grade bitumens, the mean was rounded to the nearest 0.2°C. For
industrial grade bitumens, the mean was rounded to the nearest 0.5°C.



A 47°𝐶 48°𝐶 47.5°𝐶

B 47°𝐶 48°𝐶 47.5°𝐶

Softening point value of Sample A = 47.5°𝐶

Softening point value of Sample B = 47.5°𝐶


The softening point is another important test of bitumen bid and is effecting
by change of temperature.The determination of softening point helps to know the
temperature up to which a bituminous binder should be heated for various road use
applications.Bituminous materials do not have a definite melting point. Instead, as the
temperature raises these materials slowly changes from brittle or very and slow
flowing materials to softer and less viscous liquids.Higher softening point ensures that
they will not flow during service.The higher the softening point,the lesser the
temperature susceptibility.Bitumen with higher softening point is prefered in warmer

Based on the results that we obtained from the experiment, the temperature
of bitumen to become soft for sample A is 47.5°C while for the sample B, the
temperature is also 47.5°C .The theoretical value of the optimum temperature of
bitumen softening point is between 48°C to 52°C according to Jabatan Kerja Raya
(JKR) standard. The temperature than we recorded is almost reach to the theoretical
standard.Compare to ball 1 and 2 for both sample,we can see that the ball pass the
bitumen at different temperature which is 47°C and 48°C respectively.Since the
difference between the two results is not exceeding 1.0°C,the test has been performed

While doing this experiment,some precaution should be taking into

consideration.make sure your hand doesn’t touch the hot bitumen while taking the
reading as it may cause minor severe burn.Then,during conduct the test,the apparatus
should not be subjected to vibrations.After the experiment,make sure to use glove
when wash the apparatus.


In conclusion, the final temperature of the softening point that obtained was
47.5°C which were taken from the mean of both samples A and B. The value of this
experiment was calculated thorough the lab process and the value was in accordance
with the JKR standard, from 48°C to 52°C. From what can be observed, this
experiment can be classified as fully achieved. To ensure improvement during the lab
process, some methods need to be taken seriously in order to prevent any errors or
difficulties in doing the experiment. Firstly, the ball ring needed to be adjusted
properly so that the ball would go pass freely into the ring easily without any
interruptions due to friction. In addition, the temperature plays the role due to the
condition of the bitumen which is sensitive to the temperature surroundings.


1. Muhammad Farhan Bin Ibrahim, Muhammad Efendi Bin Asmat, Mohamad

Adlan Bin Zamri, Muhammad Afif Rusydi Bin Md Khalil, Nur Izzati Emalia

Bt Azhar, Erin Marissa Bt Ramlan, Maizatul Aqmar Bt Yusup, Zaila Maizuroh Bt



Retrieved from

2. Petrie, Edward (2006). Handbook of Adhesives and Sealants. McGraw-Hill.

p. 146. ISBN 0-07-147916-3.

3. Transport Lab Manual, Department of Civil Engineering, Kulliyyah of

Engineering, (2017) “Ring and ball test (softening point)”.

4. Prof. Tom V. Mathew, (2009) “Pavement materials: Bitumen” retrieved from