Emulsions are named based on their properties. What may seem like a complex series of numbers and letters can be easily broken into components that describe a specific emulsion’s behavior and chemical makeup. Some states and agencies use different naming conventions that meet local needs, but the majority of emulsions follow these standards:
Formulated for compatibility with specific aggregates and components
Cationic (Positive Charge)
Often designed to break chemically, making these emulsions more compatible with nighttime or cooler climate applications.
Anionic (Negative Charge)
These emulsions tend to rely on evaporative breaking.
Nonionic (No Charge)
Some emulsions are non-ionic (without charge), though these are few.
Aggregate Coating Thickness
Utilizes a chemical formulation that promotes a gel quality to the emulsion, increasing performance
High Float Emulsion
Used in chip seals, cold mixes & road mixes.
Emulsifier forms a gel structure in asphalt residue to create a thicker asphalt film
Wider temperature range to prevent flowing in hot temperatures and cracking in cold temperatures
Non High-Float Emulsions
Emulsions which are not specifically high-float.
Speed at Which Emulsions are Set
Engineered for optimal break time and workability
Rapid Set Emulsion
Generally used in spray applications like chip seals, scrub seals and surface treatments.
Least stable; break rapidly in contact with aggregate
Little to no ability to mix with aggregates
A polymer may be added to increase adhesion and shorten return-to-traffic times
Break is primarily chemical
Medium Set Emulsion
Used in cold recycling, cold and warm dense-graded aggregate mixes, and patch mixes.
Designed to remain workable for a few minutes to several months
Coats aggregates during mixing and breaks soon after application
Mixes with aggregates in pug mills, travel plants, or in-situ
Slow Set Emulsion
Used in dense-graded aggregate bases, slurry seals, soil stabilization, asphalt surface courses and some recycling. Is often diluted with water to be used in tack coat, fog seal and dust palliatives.
Most stable with maximum mixing time & extended workability
Compatible with many types of fillers and additives
Works with fine aggregates
Breaks primarily through water evaporation
Quick Set Emulsion
Used in micro-surfacing and slurry seal.
Works with fine aggregates with faster break
Include polymers and other additives for thicker lifts and faster curing
Viscosity & Hardness
To accommodate specific application methods and climates
Lower Viscosity Emulsion
More fluid; designed to flow into aggregate.
Typically used in penetrating primes & prime coats
Higher Viscosity Emulsion
Thicker; designed to cling to aggregate.
Typically used in mixing emulsions
Harder Base Asphalt
Thicker, less pliable.
Performs well in hotter climates; less likely to run when heated
Softer Base Asphalt
Thinner, more pliable.
Performs well in colder climates; more resistant to cracking
Polymers & Additives
To achieve strength, adhesion, elasticity, durability or other performance demands