Humans have known about asphalt for thousands of years – in fact the word “asphalt” comes from the Greek asphalton which meant to “to make firm” or “to secure”. The first recorded use of asphalt in the construction of roads was in Babylon in 615 BC. However, a long time passed before asphalt paving returned to popularity as a smooth, secure, and long-lasting paving solution. Read on for more interesting facts that might surprise you about asphalt!
There are a handful of sites in the world where large deposits of asphalt are naturally occurring, and Alberta is one of them. The first recorded discovery of a large deposit of asphalt like this was made by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595, who was amazed by what looked like a lake of asphalt on the island of Trinidad, near Venezuela.
Asphalt has a long and interesting history – it was used by the Romans as glue among other things – but it wasn’t until the 1860s that it was first employed as paving material for sidewalks and crosswalks in North America. The first of these was laid outside city hall in Newark, New Jersey. Over 50 years later, in 1915, Canada embraced the use of asphalt paving in its roads across Ontario and Alberta.
We’re not the only ones to have recognized the benefits of using asphalt paving on our roads and driveways. According to the European Asphalt Pavement Association, asphalt paving is the most prevalent material used for road construction in Europe.
Typically, asphalt is known for its oily appearance when wet, but did you know that asphalt paving is made up of only 5% asphalt cement (the oily stuff)? The rest is sand, gravel, and stone, and that’s what gives asphalt its consistency. However, because of this amazing 5% that demonstrates viscosity at high temperatures, asphalt is a highly useful substance, ideal for both its flexibility and durability in many industries.
Though it might shock you, the rate of recycling of asphalt is now 99 percent in the USA. In Canada too, the majority of companies offer asphalt paving recycling – if considering asphalt paving, check with your provider and you too could be contributing to this sustainable method of surface paving.