What do I do if I spill oil on my asphalt?

First you want to remove the oil as quickly as possible. If the oil is left on the asphalt it will soften the pavement and eventually destroy it leaving a hole and a stain.

First things to do are;

  1. Using a cloth wipe up the excess oil.
  2. After cleaning up the excess oil. Apply speedy dry or kitty litter to the spill area. Move it around, back and forth using a broom. You are trying to have the kitty little or speedy dry soak up the excess oil. Let it sit for a few hours and then clean up the litter or speedy dry.

Next, try to remove what is left of the oil and as much of the stain as possible. Below is a list of a few ways to try and remove the oil stain using products you may have at home.

  1. Dawn Dish soap– Apply a large amount of Dawn to the oil spot and apply a little water. Then scrub the spot with a large brisled brush. Then, rinse the area off with water. You may want to do this a couple of times to try and get as much oil out of the asphalt as possible.
  1. Baking Soda– Apply a generous amount directly to the stain. Dampen the baking soda slightly damp and then scrub the area with a stiff brush in a circular motion and let it sit approximately 45 minutes and then wash it away.
  1. Coca Cola– Pour one or two cans to the oil spot and let it sit for at least 12 hours, let it penetrate down into the asphalt. Then clean it up after a period of time and repeat the process but only let the soda sit for 1 hour the second time. Make sure the excess oil has been taken up prior to using this process.
  1. Oven cleaner– Apply and let it sit for approximately 10 minutes and rinse off with as much pressurized water as you can get.
  1. Laundry Detergent– Apply to the spot and add a little water. Scrub the area with a stiff brush in a circular motion and after about 45 minutes wipe off the surface.
  1. WD40- Spray on the oil stain and let it sit for about 30-35 minutes. This will allow it to sink into the pavement. You may need to scrub it with a hard brush. Then rinse it off. You can repeat this process if the oil stain is still present.
  1. Simple Green- They have a driveway cleaner you can use as well.

These are a few ways to try and remove oil spills and stains from you asphalt using common house hold products. If the stain is still present after any or multiple ways of trying to get rid of it you may want to look into industrial cleaners or sealcoating as soon as you can. The longer the oil and stains sit on the asphalt the more damage it will do over time.

A little history of how roads we use today came to be

Thousands of years before urban planning, motor vehicles or even the wheel. Our first roads were spontaneously formed by humans and animals walking the same paths over and over to get water and find food. As small groups of people combined into villages, towns and cities; networks of walking paths eventually became what we now consider most roads. The first roads really appeared all over in places like the woods, open terrain, even following shore lines.

Following the introduction of the wheel approximately 7,000 years ago; larger and heavier loads could be transported longer distances. These loads showed the limitations of dirt paths, as they turned into muddy bogs when it rained. The earliest stone paved roads have been traced to about 4,000 B. C. in the Indian subcontinent and Mesopotamia. The Romans developed techniques to build roads using multiple layers of materials of crushed stone. They used crushed stone to help with the water drainage.  This process allowed their legions to be more mobile throughout their empire. Some of those roads remain in use today more than 2,000 years later. These practices were the foundation of the techniques we use on building today’s roads all these years later.

The modern road construction techniques can be traced to a process developed by Scottish engineer John McAdam. In the early 19th century  McAdam topped multi-layer roadbeds with a soil and crushed stone aggregate that was packed down with heavy rollers to compact it all together. Contemporary asphalt roads capable of supporting the vehicles that emerged in the 20th century built upon McAdam’s methods  of compacted base of processed stone and then tar was added as a binder.  The actual process of road building has changed dramatically over the past century, going from large groups of workers with picks and shovels to what we use today as enormous specialized machines.

With much of the 20th century punctuated by hot & cold wars, the need to move the military just as the Romans did led to the development of the modern superhighway, including the German Autobahn and our American interstate system.  Military requirements for long unobstructed stretches that could be used as emergency runways for aircraft paid a dividend for civilian drivers who could now cross countries at high speeds much more efficiently than a dirt road. Making these travels much safer and efficient for everyone.

Building or expanding modern roads is a complex undertaking that can cost anywhere from $2 to $12 million per mile depending on the number of lanes and the location.  A great deal of consideration is put into where roads should go in order to minimize disruptions and make them as direct as possible. While simultaneously keeping slopes reasonable in hilly areas for performance and safety reasons.

Today we use the practice of rebuilding existing roads. This process always starts with machines pulling up (milling or pulverizing) the existing pavement. The grindings that are pulled up are either used as part of the new base or are put into trucks for reuse later as aggregate for new roads.  After grading and compacting the surface, pavers come in and lay down fresh continuous sheets of asphalt followed directly by the rollers. This process allows the asphalt and stone to bind together with the tar material for a smooth surface for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic.

Needless to say the engineering and process we use today has come a long way from the walking paths our ancestors and animals made through the lands centuries ago. Today we have an abundant amount of options to get from place to place because of those paths and the ability to create roadways. To think that just about 150 years ago there were no vehicles; everything used for long distance transportation was generally horse and buggy or trains. We have come a long way in a short amount of time in history.


Everyone’s favorite subject when it comes to roadway maintenance, potholes!

First a bit of history;  Pottery makers in the 15th and 16th century England would take advantage of the ruts that wagon and coach wheels gouged into roads.  Anxious for a cheap source of raw materials for making clay pots. The potters would dig into the deep ruts to reach clay deposits underneath.  Teamsters driving wagons and coaches over these roads knew who and what caused these holes and referred to them as “potholes”.
What we consider a pothole today:
Potholes are created when the pavement or the material beneath it—called base or sub base —cannot support the weight of the traffic it carries.  Two factors are always present in such a failure: Traffic and Water.  The formation period for a pothole includes these milestones: Snow or rain seeps into cracks in the pavement and into the soil below, causing mud and eroding the support as a hole or void forms under the pavement.  Repeated freeze/thaw cycles or traffic cause the ground to expand and push up the pavement.  With temperature increases, the ground returns to its previous level, however the pavement does not drop, which results in a gap between the road surface and the ground below.  Vehicles driving over the raised pavement cause the surface to crack and fall into the hollow area below the pavement, which creates the pothole.
How are potholes repaired?
Pothole patching is generally performed either as an emergency repair under harsh conditions or as routine maintenance scheduled for warmer and drier weather. Depending on the materials used, patching can be performed during weather that ranges from clear spring days to harsh winter storms with temperatures ranging from 0 to 100 degrees. (mix costs more in the winter months).

When a pothole is first found, there is a liability issue with vehicular and pedestrian traffic going into or over a pothole. The first thing to do is cone the area off or temporarily filling it with hot asphalt or cold patch. This is not a permanent fix but can help with the immediate problem. When  weather conditions and time of day are available the temporary patch should be fixed for a more permanent solution.

There are many ways to fill in potholes here is a list of some of them:

Conventional Patching (long term solution)

  • Cut out the problem area to the sub-base
  • Repair the sub-base as needed & compact
  • Install & compact 2 inches of hot bituminous binder course
  • Install & compact 1 inch of hot bituminous concrete per MDPW specification, type I class meeting the elevation of existing pavement.
  • Seal the paving joint

Overlay Problem Area (temporary solution)

  • Key cut around the perimeter of area to be patched
  • Clean & hand apply Tack to the area being over layed
  • Install & compact bituminous concrete over the problem area
  • Seal the paving joints
  • This is a Temporary fix – The problem will reoccur over time

Infrared Patching

  • This is a method of blending new and existing asphalt by adding new asphalt to the pothole and infareding the area.
  • It creates A joint free patch • It is a good way to correct low areas in pavement
  • This is not recommended for seriously damaged areas- the problem will reoccur.

Polypatch & Mastics

  • Designed for patching large cracks & distressed pavement and potholes
  • Hot applied, self-adhesive modified binder containing selective aggregates
  • Ensures load bearing & skid resistant characteristics + 100% waterproofing

Happy dodging…