All gravel roads will give off dust under traffic. After all, they are unpaved roads that typically serve a low volume of traffic and dust is usually an inherent problem. The amount of dust that a gravel road produces varies greatly.
In areas of the country that receive a high amount of moisture, the problem is greatly reduced. Arid or semi-arid regions such as the desert southwest and much of the Great Plains region in the USA are prone to long periods of dry weather.
Similar regions around the globe can have similar weather patterns. Dust can really bring complaints in these areas if there are residences located near the road and traffic is high.
Amount of Dust
The quality and type of gravel also has some effect on the amount of dust. Some limestone gravels can dust severely while some glacial deposits of gravel with a portion of highly plastic clay can take on a strong binding characteristic that will resist dusting remarkably well.
Still, in prolonged dry weather, there will be dust! Whether to provide some type of dust control or not can be a hard decision to make. Virtually all methods of dust control require annual treatment.
Types of Stabilizers
- Chlorides - These are the most commonly used products across the country. They fall into three categories: Calcium chloride in flake or liquid form, Magnesium Chloride generally in liquid form, and Sodium Chloride (road salt). Sodium is seldom used and is the least effective. Calcium and Magnesium Chloride can be very effective if used properly.
- They are hygroscopic products, which in simplest term, mean they draw moisture from the air and keep the road surface constantly damp. They are reasonably simple to use.
- Resins - These are products available under various commercial names. The basic composition is lignin sulfonate, which is a by-product of the pulp milling industry. The product is sometimes called tree sap in the field.
- These products work best when incorporated into the surface gravel. They then provide cohesion to bind the soil particles together.
Caution: Do not use waste products such as crankcase drain oil from engines. This is harmful to the environment and is in violation of EPA rules.