Why Using High Grade Bitumen is Important

Crude oil is a very useful resource. Not only does it provide us with fuel in the form of petroleum, but it also provides us with an extremely useful material for construction — bitumen. As we’ve discussed before, Bitumen has had numerous uses throughout history, from insulation to water proofing. In the modern western world, bitumen is often used as a surfacing material for roads, coloured pavement or decorative paving.

However, not all bitumen is created equally. There are numerous ‘grades’ (a description of which we’ve written before) of bitumen. Depending on the grade of the bitumen you’re working with, it could be completely unsuitable for the project at hand.

In this article, we will discuss how Bitumen is graded and why some grades of bitumen are not suitable for construction.

How Is Bitumen Graded?

While there have been numerous tests over the years, today bitumen is graded based on its purity. Low-grade bitumen is that which contains volatile, impure elements, such as crude oil. These elements are normally extremely volatile and quite flammable even when solid —  making the bitumen unsuitable for use as a basis for decorative paving or park footpath surfaces.

How Is Low Grade Bitumen Separated from High Grade Bitumen?

These low-grade, volatile elements stay near the bottom of the furnace during the fractional distillation, while the higher-grade material is allowed to distillate upwards. Once distilled has been completed, the high quality bitumen will be collected, allowed to cool and then used for construction.

This low grade material is then sent through further rounds of fractional distillation in an effort to extract more usable material. Once all the usable bitumen has been extracted from the low-grade material, this low-grade byproduct is repurposed.


In conclusion, high-grade bitumen is preferable because:

  • Low grade bitumen is volatile and flammable, even when cooled and solid
  • Purifying low-grade material and making it usable takes time and money

Contact BituChem Today

For more information on why using high grade bitumen is important, or any other questions about our range of decorative paving products, get in contact with BituChem today. Our experienced and knowledgeable team will be able to help you with your enquiries today.