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The volume increase of fine aggregate due to presence of moisture content is known as
bulking. Fine sand bulks more as compared to coarse sand. Extremely fine sand
particularly the manufactured fine aggregate bulks as much as about 40%.
Note: Fine aggregate do not show any bulking when it is absolutely dry or completely

The moisture present in aggregate forms a film around each particle. These films of
moisture exert a force, known as surface tension, on each particle. Due to this surface
tension each particles gets away from each other. Because of this no direct contact is
possible among individual particles and this causes bulking of the volume.
Bulking of aggregate is dependent upon two factors,

1. Percentage of moisture content

2. Particle size of fine aggregate

Bulking increases with increase in moisture content up to a certain limit and beyond that
the further increase in moisture content results in decrease in volume. When the fine
aggregate is completely saturated it does not show any bulking. Fine sand bulks more
as compared to coarse sand, i.e. percentage of bulking in indirectly proportional to the
size of particle.


Due to bulking, fine aggregate shows completely unrealistic volume. Therefore, it is

absolutely necessary that consideration must be given to the effect of bulking in
proportioning the concrete by volume. If care is not given to the effect of bulking, in the
case of volume batching, the resulting concrete is likely to be under-sanded and harsh.
It will also affect the yield of concrete for given cement content.

The extent of bulking can be estimated by a simple field test.

 Fill a sample of moist fine aggregate (sand) into a measuring cylinder in the normal
manner. Note down the level, say h1.
 Pour water into a measuring cylinder and completely cover the sand with water and
shake it. Since the volume of the saturated sand is the same as that of the dry
sand, the saturated sand completely offsets the bulking effect. Note down the level
of sand, say h2.
 Subtract the final level h2 from initial level h1 (i.e. h1-h2), which shows the bulking of
sand under test.
 Calculate percentage of bulking using formula given below.
 Percentage of bulking = [(h1-h2)/h2] x 100
Bulking of Sand and test to calculate bulking in sand
Bulking in sand Occurs When dry sand interacts with the atmospheric moisture.
Presence of moisture content forms a thin layer around sand particles. This layer
generates the force which makes particles to move a side each other. This results in the
increase of the volume of sand.
Excessive presence of moisture content in the sand makes concrete less durable and
lose its strength. Remember, excessive presence of moisture content increase the
workability of concrete but loses its strength.
As per IS, Presence of 4% of moisture content in sand increases 25% of its volume.

The extent of sand bulking depends on the grading of sand. Finer Sand possesses
more bulking than the medium and coarse sand. Thus, Bulking in sand is high for fine
sand and low for coarse sand. Increase of bulking in sand effects concrete mix and
results harsh behavior while placing.
Moisture content less than 5% should be preferred for construction purposes.
In order to calculate the bulking of sand / Percentage of moisture content in the sand,
the moisture content of sand is further increased by adding some more water. Due to
this, the sand particles pack close to each other and the Bulking of sand is gradually
decreased. Therefore this helps in finding the actual volume of sand (dry sand). In
simple words, the dry sand and fully saturated sand have the exact volume.
The percentage of bulking can be determined by following this method:-
1. Take a simple container and add 2/3 part of sand in it.
2. Measure the exact height of sand using the scale and note it down. (H1)
3. Now fill the container up to 2/3 part with water. (Same height of Sand)
4. Now add the measured sand to the container and wait for some time to settle down.
5. Now calculate the height of Sand in water. (H2)
For suppose the measured height of Sand is 200mm and height of sand with water =
160mm then

From the above table it is clear that the Sample has 4% of Moisture content in it due to
this 25% of volume is increased in sand.