Transportation - Route Sales - Pavement Maintenance

(559) 486-0220




The Strongest Bonding Agent.

We are often asked how Calbinder acts as a dust palliative and soil stabilizer. The simple answer is that it is a glue that bonds the soil particles together. This is particularly true in that the wood sugars and lignin polymer are both bonding agents. However, the wood sugars are also hygroscopic and both attract and retain moisture in the road surface. This builds a flexible, hard, relatively dust free surface. This ability is very important when the lignin is "top shot" on the roadway. Hoover and Blancke substantiate the value of wood sugars in soil stabilized with lignon liquor.

The Lignin fraction of Calbinder is the strong bonding agent. It bonds itself chemically to the clay minerals in soils and acts as a deflocculating or dispersing agent. This tends to fill the voids and gives a higher density for the same moisture content.


Lignin has been used to suppress fugitive dust emissions in Europe and America since the 1920's. Initially unconcentrated Lignin solutions taken raw from pulp mills was simply sprayed lightly on unpaved roads to suppress dust. This practice gained importance when it was shown that Lignin compounds penetrated the road material coating individual particles with a thin layer of binder. Further usage and study found that Lignins act as clay dispersants making clay particles plastic at low moisture levels. After compaction this lead to a denser, firmer road surface. For this reason, clay is a very important component in a Calbinder treated road. Once a road is treated with Calbinder and properly compacted, the void spaces between soil particles becomes minimal. This imparts greater load bearing strength, greatly reduces water intake, and loss of road surface by water or abrasion.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Calbinder is an Ammonium Lignin Sulfonate derived from converting trees into pulp. Typically it has the following chemical analysis:

(Major Component Analysis, 50% Dry Solids)
7.0    -Kjeldahl nitrogen
5.6    -Ammonia nitrogen
5.6    -Sulfur
12.7    -Acetic acid
47.1    -Lignin
22.6    -Total sugars

Elemental Analysis of Calbinder

(Trace Element Analysis, ppm)
5.3    -Aluminum
77.1    -Barium
4.0    -Baron
1574.8    -Calcium
10.2    -Copper
57.0    -Iron
747.0    -Magnesium
218.8    -Manganese
298.2    -Phosphorous
4000.0    -Potassium
348.5    -Sodium

Material PH: 6.0 Solubility in water 100%.

NOTE: All values listed in the above table are approximate.

These values are not guaranteed or considered a condition of sale.

Benefits of Calbinder

Treatment of unpaved roads with Calbinder provides many of the benefits of asphalt paving at a fraction of pavings cost. Applied by current recommended practice, 2% Calbinder by road soil weight in the top four to six inches of road bed soil, evenly blended and compacted, Calbinder offers these advantages:

Increased load-bearing capacity, comparable to that of a two to three inch layer of asphaltic concrete.

Firmer road surface, elimination of loose gravel, increased safety and comfort.

Dust abatement: elimination of 80-100% of dust generated on untreated roads.

Reduced frost heave damage.


reduced need for gravel or crushed rock foundation material;

reduced maintenance cost (one grading per year as compared to four on the average untreated road);

ability to use native clay soils in the construction of all-weather secondary roads (not possible without a binder).

The Application of Calbinder

Calbinder can be applied by several methods. The most common are as follows:

Dust Control with Water:

Construction sites, mine sites, rock quarries and many other areas are often dust controlled by frequent watering with trucks. The addition of 10%, by volume, of Calbinder will greatly increase the effectiveness of the water trucks.

As the Calbinder accumulates in the soil, the need for water trucks will be greatly reduced or eliminated completely for extended periods.

Calbinder as a Dust Palliative:

Calbinder is used at the rate of 0.25 to 0.50 gallon per square yard, depending on the traffic density and loads.

The road should be bladed and shaped prior to being wetted thoroughly. The Calbinder will penetrate easier if the road is showing areas that are starting to dry.

The Calbinder should be applied with any spray apparatus that will spread an even coating over the roadway. It has been general practice to dilute the Calbinder with an equal part of water prior to spreading. We have found that the relatively low viscosity of Calbinder often allows the elimination of the dilution step.

If heavy traffic volume causes dust generation, a maintenance treatment of approximately 0. 1 to 0. 2 gallon per square yard may be necessary. As needed.

Road Bed Stabilization:

Stabilizing road beds generally refers to mixing Calbinder into a road from four to six inches deep with from 1/2 to 1 gallon per square yard. This type of treatment is used to increase the compressive strength of a road base. This practice is most often used for:

Constructing a stable road bed for heavy weight and/or high volume traffic were the need for constant maintenance is not desirable.

Where high levels of stability are required prior to covering with a semi-permanent running surface. (i.e. asphalt paving, slurry seals, or chip seals.) Deep stabilizing with Calbinder allows soils with higher clay contents to be used as bases without the import of traditional base rock materials.

Stabilizing roads where the ability to utilize the road during periods of high moisture or snow is desired without damaging the road bed.

Preparation of Roadbed:

The road is scarified and bladed to the depth to which stabilization is desired, usually four to six inches. This eliminates corrugations and potholes and loosens the soil for treatment. Material of a diameter larger than one inch should be processed off the road.

The final aggregate should be a good blend of particle sizes, and should include some clay. Addition of at least 10% clay to a pure sand soil is recommended. Composition, in terms of particle size distribution, of an ideal soil is given in Table II below, but good results can be obtained with a wide variety of soils and particle size distributions.

Simply stated, a good mixture should not contain any particles greater than one inch in diameter and should be composed of about 40% each of coarse and fine aggregate and of about 20% of clay and silt.

Table II
Desirable Road Soil Mixture
2(1/2 inch)    Coarse aggregate    20-25
-2 + 10    Coarse aggregate    20
-10 + 40    Coarse sand (Fine aggregate)    20-25
-40 + 200    Fine sand (Fine aggregate)    20
-200    Silt and Clay    10-20

Most of the loose material is next bladed toward the two sides of the road to form two windows, which prevent runoff and assure penetration of Calbinder into the subsurface. If the road material is very dry, sprinkling with water before Calbinder application will help Calbinder penetration. If the road material is saturated with moisture, Calbinder will not penetrate either; hence, the soil must be allowed to dry somewhat.

Application of Roadbinder:

In the first pass, from 30% to 50% of the Calbinder dosage is sprayed from a tank truck between the windrows. Rate of application is controlled by valve adjustments at constant tank truck speed, or, in the case of gravity flow equipment, by truck speed adjustment.

Next, the windrows are bladed toward the center, spreading evenly, and another 30% of the total dosage is sprayed onto the new surface. Now the treated soil aggregate is thoroughly mixed by grading or by pulverizing.
Forming of final road Profile:

Rapid surface drainage is important to roads treated with Calbinder since standing water can increase the plasticity of Calbinder treated roadbeds to the point where potholes are created by the traffic. For this reason, the best road crown is a modified A-type cross-section with a uniform side slope of about one-half inch per foot from the center line to the edge of the road.


The Calbinder-treated surface layer of the road must be compacted before the binder dries completely and while the road material is still plastic. Compaction is best done with a steel drum vibratory roller.

As a -general principle, the road shoulders should be included in the treatment, and windrows of gravel should be eliminated by blading all but the oversized material into the finished surface.

Good distribution of solids throughout the treated layer of road material is important for a good road cap. Good distribution becomes particularly important if treatment is to be followed at a later date by asphalt surfacing. An accumulation of solids at the road surface will weaken or prevent bonding between that surface and the asphalt layer.

Top Dressing with Calbinder:

Once the road crown is formed and compacted, the remainder of the Calbinder dosage is applied in a relatively light spray, to touch up any dry spots that became exposed by grading. An overdose of Calbinder at this stage can create excess surface plasticity and a runoff of road substance.

Maintenance of Treated road:

Traffic wear over a period of time may result in formation of potholes and raveling of the treated surface, especially if the aggregate was insufficiently mixed with binding soil, or if water accumulation occurs on the surface by an improperly shaped crown.

The preferred method for minor repair is patching rather than total regrading. Patching mixtures should have a composition similar to that of the road surface. Calbinder solution is used to moisten the bottom of the potholes, after which repair is made using a patching soil-binder mixture. The patching mixture should contain at lest 2% Calbinder based on soil weight.

If raveling, pothole formation or dusting becomes excessive, the surface must be reworked. This is best done after a rain, or after pretreatment with after to soften the surface. The road surface is then cut to the bottom of the potholes, and the loose material retreated as suggested under "Application.".

Grading of the dry treated road loosens the bonded road surface and may create some dusting. Hence, grading should only be done when general shaping, or major repair, is needed. After major grading a sealing coat of Calbinder is required to rebind the running surface of the road.

Sealing Areas of Distrubed Soil

Open areas where the natural crusting of soil has been broken by construction or other activities. Calbinder applied in the range of .12 gallons per square yard to 0.50 gallon per square yard will bind the soil particles that have a tendency to become suspended from either wind, water, or vehicle travel.

Calbinder used in this application provides these advantages to the user:

Lower cost per acre compared to competing products.

Environmentally benign.

Natural vegetation growth or establishment will not be retarded.

Two components of Calbinder will promote vegetation growth.

Areas where Calbinder's seal has been broken. Usually a light spraying with water will stimulate a capillary action and rebinds the surface.

Calbinder can easily be applied using water or Hydroseeding equipment without concern about damage or build-up in the equipment. Clear water will flush the system.



Fact Sheet:

Calbinder is an ammonium lignosulfonate product from the forest products industry. When all factors are considered - performance, cost, environmental safety, and quality, it is superior to magnesium chloride or calcium chloride for road stabilization and dust control applications.


Calbinder is very easy to apply using conventional equipment. It is a non-corrosive and non-hazardous product that is easily washed out of equipment and clothing.

Calbinder creates a hard, tightly-bound road that has increased traction and improved skid-resistance properties. It greatly reduces the need for grading and allows savings using cheaper aggregates.

Environmental Safety:

Calbinder is a lignin-based product which is the naturally occurring glue that binds cellulose into strong, rigid trees. Calbinder is not a defoliant. As a result, unlike chemical salts, overspray is not a concern. Just wash it off with water!

The basic ingredient in Calbinder is the same material that is blended with molasses in cattle feed formulations.

Calbinder meets the specifications of the U.S. Forest Service, General Service Administration, and the Government of British Columbia. It has been used by these agencies for decades.

Calbinder is fully supported by the highly qualified technical sales and service personnel of both California-Fresno and the entire distributor network throughout California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Idaho, and Oregon. This provides the user with local technical expertise and supply.