ASTM International - ASTM D6913/D6913M-17

Standard Test Methods for Particle-Size Distribution (Gradation) of Soils Using Sieve Analysis

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Organization: ASTM International
Publication Date: 15 April 2017
Status: active
Page Count: 34
ICS Code (Physical properties of soils): 13.080.20
significance And Use:

5.1 The gradation of the soil is used for classification in accordance with Practice D2487.

5.2 The gradation (particle-size distribution) curve is used to calculate the coefficient of... View More


1.1 Soils consist of particles with various shapes and sizes. This test method is used to separate particles into size ranges and to determine quantitatively the mass of particles in each range. These data are combined to determine the particle-size distribution (gradation). This test method uses a square opening sieve criterion in determining the gradation of soil between the 3-in. (75-mm) and No. 200 (75-µm) sieves.

1.2 The terms, soils and material, are used interchangeably throughout the standard.

1.3 In cases where the gradation of particles larger than 3 in. (75 mm) sieve is needed, Test Method D5519 may be used.

1.4 In cases where the gradation of particles smaller than No. 200 (75-µm) sieve is needed, Test Method D7928 may be used.

1.5 Typically, if the maximum particle size is equal to or less than 4.75 mm (No. 4 sieve), then single-set sieving is applicable. Furthermore, if the maximum particle size is greater than 4.75 mm (No. 4 sieve) and equal to or less than 9.5 mm (3/8-in sieve), then either single-set sieving or composite sieving is applicable. Finally, if the maximum particle size is equal to or greater than 19.0 mm (3/4-in sieve), composite sieving is applicable. For special conditions see 10.3.

1.6 Two test methods are provided in this standard. The methods differ in the significant digits recorded and the size of the specimen (mass) required. The method to be used may be specified by the requesting authority; otherwise Method A shall be performed.

1.6.1 Method A-The percentage (by mass) passing each sieve size is recorded to the nearest 1 %. This method must be used when performing composite sieving. For cases of disputes, Method A is the referee method.

1.6.2 Method B-The percentage (by mass) passing each sieve size is recorded to the nearest 0.1 %. This method is only applicable for single sieve-set sieving and when the maximum particle size is equal to or less than the No. 4 (4.75-mm) sieve.

1.7 This test method does not cover, in any detail, procurement of the sample. It is assumed that the sample is obtained using appropriate methods and is representative.

1.8 Sample Processing-Three procedures (moist, air dry, and oven dry) are provided to process the sample to obtain a specimen. The procedure selected will depend on the type of sample, the maximum particle-size in the sample, the range of particle sizes, the initial conditions of the material, the plasticity of the material, the efficiency, and the need for other testing on the sample. The procedure may be specified by the requesting authority; otherwise the guidance given in Section 10 shall be followed.

1.9 This test method typically requires two or three days to complete, depending on the type and size of the sample and soil type.

1.10 This test method is not applicable for the following soils:

1.10.1 Soils containing fibrous peat that will change in particle size during the drying, washing, or sieving procedure.

1.10.2 Soils containing extraneous matter, such as organic solvents, oil, asphalt, wood fragments, or similar items. Such extraneous matter can affect the washing and sieving procedures.

1.10.3 Materials that contain cementitious components, such as cement, fly ash, lime, or other stabilization admixtures.

1.11 This test method may not produce consistent test results within and between laboratories for the following soils and the precision statement does not apply to them.

1.11.1 Friable soils in which the sieving processes change the gradation of the soil. Typical examples of these soils are some residual soils, most weathered shales and some weakly cemented soils such as hardpan, caliche or coquina.

1.11.2 Soils that will not readily disperse such as glauconitic clays or some dried plastic clays.

1.11.3 To test these soils, this test method must be adapted, or altered, and these alterations documented. Depending on the design considerations, a specialized gradation-testing program could be performed. The alterations could require the washing and sieving procedures to be standardized such that each specimen would be processed in a similar manner.

1.12 Some materials that are not soils, but are made up of particles may be tested using this method. However, the applicable sections above should be used in applying this standard.

1.13 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in Practice D6026, unless superseded by this test method.

1.13.1 The procedures used to specify how data are collected/recorded and calculated in this standard are regarded as the industry standard. In addition, they are representative of the significant digits that generally should be retained. The procedures used do not consider material variation, purpose for obtaining the data, special purpose studies, or any considerations for the user's objectives; and it is common practice to increase or reduce significant digits of reported data to be commensurate with these considerations. It is beyond the scope of these test methods to consider significant digits used in analysis methods for engineering design.

1.14 Units-The dimensional values stated in either SI units or inch-pound units are to be regarded as standard, such as 200-mm or 8-in. diameter sieve. Except, the sieve designations are typically identified using the "alternative" system in accordance with Practice E11, such as 3 in. and No. 200, instead of the "standard" system of 75 mm and 75 µm, respectively. Only the SI units are used for mass determinations, calculations, and reported results. However, the use of balances or scales recording pounds of mass (lbm) shall not be regarded as nonconformance with this standard.

1.15 A summary of the symbols used in this test method is given in Annex A1.

1.16 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.17 Table of Contents-All tables and figures appear at the end of this standard.



 Method A 1.6.1
 Method B 1.6.2
 Sample Processing 1.8
 Units 1.14

Referenced Documents

 ASTM Standards 2.1


 General 3.1
 Definitions 3.2
 Definitions of Terms Specific to This Standard 3.3

Summary of Test Method


Significance and Use



 Sieves 6.1
  Standard Sieve Set 6.1.1
  Washing Sieve, No. 200 (75-μm) 6.1.2
  Designated Separating Sieve 6.1.3
 Washing Sink with Spray Nozzle 6.2
 Mechanical Sieve Shaker 6.3
 Balances 6.4
 Drying Oven 6.5
 Sieving Containers 6.6
  Specimen Containers 6.6.1
  Collection/Transfer Device 6.6.2
  Cumulative Mass Container 6.6.3
 Sieve Brushes 6.7
 Miscellaneous Items 6.8
 Splitter or Riffle Box (optional) 6.9
 Quartering Accessories (optional) 6.10
 Mortar and Rubber-Covered Pestle (optional) 6.11
 Low Temperature Drying Oven (optional) 6.12
 Ultrasonic Water Bath (optional) 6.13
 Dispersion Shaker (optional) 6.14


 Sodium Hexametaphosphate 7.1
  Dry Addition

Preparation of Apparatus

 Verification of Sieves 8.1
  Verification Interval 8.1.1
 Verification of Mechanical Sieve Shaker and
 Standard Shaking Period
  Large Mechanical Sieve Shaker 8.2.1
  Verification Interval 8.2.2
  Hand Sieve Shaking Procedure 8.2.3


 General 9.1
 Sample Sources 9.2
  Bulk Samples 9.2.1
  Jar and Small Bag Samples 9.2.2
  Intact Tube Samples 9.2.3
  Samples from Prior Testing 9.2.4


 General 10.1
 Minimum Mass Requirement 10.2
 Selection of Sieving Procedure 10.3
  Single Sieve-Set Sieving 10.3.1
  Composite Sieving 10.3.2
 Specimen Procurement 10.4
  Moist Procedure 10.4.1
  Air-Dried Procedure 10.4.2
  Oven-Dried Procedure 10.4.3
  Discussion on Segregating Soils 10.4.4
 Specimen Procurement and Processing Requirements 10.5
  Moist Procedure, Single Sieve-Set Sieving 10.5.1
  Moist Procedure, Composite Sieving 10.5.2
   Coarse Portion Acceptable Loss

  Air-Dried Procedure, General 10.5.3
  Air-Dried Procedure, Single Sieve-Set Sieving 10.5.4
  Air-Dried Procedure, Composite Sieving 10.5.5
  Oven-Dried Procedure, General 10.5.6
  Oven-Dried Procedure, Single Sieve-Set Sieving 10.5.7
  Oven-Dried Procedure, Composite Sieving 10.5.8

Procedure (Sieving)

 General 11.1
 Mass Measurements 11.2
 Sieve Overloading 11.3
 Single Sieve-Set Sieving 11.4
  Specimen Mass 11.4.1
  Specimen Dispersion 11.4.2
   Soaking without a Dispersant
   Soaking with a Dispersant
   Using an Ultrasonic Water Bath
  Washing Specimen 11.4.3
   General Precautions
   Transfer Specimen
   Transfer Washed Specimen
  Dry Sieving 11.4.4
   Sieve Set
   Mechanical Shaking
  Cumulative Material/Mass Retained 11.4.5
   First Sieve
   Remaining Sieves
 Composite Sieving, Single Separation 11.5
  Coarser Portion 11.5.1
   Dispersing and Washing
   Dry Sieving Coarser Portion
  Subspecimen from Finer Portion 11.5.2
   Dispersing and Washing Subspecimen
   Dry Sieving Subspecimen
 Composite Sieving, Double Separation 11.6
  Separating 1

st Subspecimen

  Dispersing and Washing 2

nd Coarser Portion

  Dry Sieving 2

nd Coarser Portion


nd Subspecimen

   Dispersing and Washing 2

nd Subspecimen
   Dry Sieving 2

nd Subspecimen


 General 12.1
 Sieve Overloading 12.2
 Single Sieve-Set Sieving, Percent Passing 12.3
 Composite Sieving, Mass of Specimen 12.4
 Composite Sieving, Single Separation 12.5
  Composite Sieving, Coarser Portion (CP) 12.5.1
   CP, Percent Passing
   CP, Composite Sieving Correction
    Factor (CSCF)
   CP, Acceptable Loss During Washing
    and Sieving
   Composite Sieving, Subspecimen (finer
   Percent Passing, Specimen (combined
    coarser and finer portions)
   Subspecimen, Acceptable Fractional
    Percent Retained
   Percent Passing, Acceptance Criterion
   Finer Portion, Percent Passing (optional) 12.5.3
 Composite Sieving, Double Separation 12.6

st Coarser Portion


st Subspecimen

   Percent Passing, 2

nd Coarser Portion

nd Coarser Portion, Composite Sieving
    Correction Factor (2ndCSCF)

nd Coarser Portion, Acceptable Loss on
    Sieving and Washing

nd Coarser Portion, Acceptable Fractional
    Percent Retained
   Percent Passing, Acceptance Criterion

nd Subspecimen

   Percent Passing, 2

nd Subspecimen

nd Subspecimen, Acceptable Fractional
     Percent Retained
   Percent Passing, Acceptance Criterion

st Finer Portion, Percent Passing (optional)


nd Finer Portion, Composite Sieving
    Correction Factor (optional)

nd Finer Portion, Percent Passing for
    2nd Subspecimen (optional)

Report: Test Data Sheet(s)/Form(s)


Precision and Bias

 Precision 14.1
  Precision Data Analysis 14.1.1
  Calculation of Precision 14.1.2
   Acceptance Criterion
  Triplicate Test Precision Data (



TTPD-Method A Repeatability

TTPD-Method A Reproducibility

TTPD-Method B Repeatability

TTPD-Method B Reproducibility
  Single Test Precision Data (



STPD-Method A Reproducibility

STPD-Method B Reproducibility
  Soils Type 14.1.5
  Discussion on Precision 14.1.6
 Bias 14.2




Symbols Annex A1
Sample to Specimen Splitting/Reduction Methods Annex A2
 General A2.1
  Mechanical Splitting A2.1.1
  Quartering A2.1.2
  Miniature Stockpile Sampling A2.1.3
 Sample Processing Recommendation Based
  on Soil Type
  Clean Gravel (GW, GP) and Clean Sand
   (SW, SP)
  Gravel with Fines (GM, GC, GC-GM,
  Sand with Silt Fines (SW-SM, SP-SM,
  Sand with Clay and Silt Fines or Clay
   Fines (SW-SC, SP-SC, SC, SC-SM)
  Silts with Sand or Gravel, or Both (ML,
  Organic Soils with Sand or Gravel, or
   Both (OL, OH)


Example Test Data Sheets/Forms Appendix X1
 General X1.1
Precision: Example Calculations Appendix X2
 General X2.1



1.18 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

Document History

ASTM D6913/D6913M-17
April 15, 2017
Standard Test Methods for Particle-Size Distribution (Gradation) of Soils Using Sieve Analysis
1.1 Soils consist of particles with various shapes and sizes. This test method is used to separate particles into size ranges and to determine quantitatively the mass of particles in each range....