Cutback Asphalt

A cutback asphalt is simply a combination of asphalt cement and petroleum solvent. Like emulsions, cutbacks are used because they reduce asphalt viscosity for lower temperature uses (tack coats, fog seals, slurry seals, stabilization material). Similar to emulsified asphalts, after a cutback asphalt is applied the petroleum solvent evaporates leaving behind asphalt cement residue on the surface to which it was applied. A cutback asphalt is said to “cure” as the petroleum solvent evaporates away. The use of cutback asphalts is decreasing because of (Roberts et al., 1996[1]):

  • Environmental regulations. Cutback asphalts contain volatile chemicals that evaporate into the atmosphere. Emulsified asphalts evaporate water into the atmosphere.
  • Loss of high energy products. The petroleum solvents used require higher amounts of energy to manufacture and are expensive compared to the water and emulsifying agents used in emulsified asphalts.

In many places, cutback asphalt use is restricted to patching materials for use in cold weather.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Roberts, F.L.; Kandhal, P.S.; Brown, E.R.; Lee, D.Y. and Kennedy, T.W.  (1996).  Hot Mix Asphalt Materials, Mixture Design, and Construction.  National Asphalt Pavement Association Education Foundation.  Lanham, MD.  




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