Bitumen Glossary

3 minutes read

What is Bitumen?

Bitumen, also known as asphalt or tar, is a crucial component of the oil and gas industry.

Bitumen in Drums

Published on

Jul 31st, 2023

Updated on

Jul 31st, 2023

Bitumen, also known as asphalt or tar, is a crucial component of the oil and gas industry. It plays a significant role in various infrastructure projects, including road construction, waterproofing, and roofing. In this article, we will explore what bitumen is, its different types, production methods, importance, and its wide range of applications. We will also discuss packaging options and shipping methods associated with this versatile material.

What is Bitumen?

Bitumen is a highly viscous, black, and sticky substance that occurs naturally or is obtained as a residue during crude oil refining. It is composed of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, primarily consisting of polycyclic aromatic compounds. Bitumen has a distinctively thick consistency and is insoluble in water but soluble in many organic solvents.

Types of Bitumen

There are several types of bitumen available, each with specific properties suitable for different applications. The most commonly used types include:

Road Bitumen

This type of bitumen, also known as paving bitumen, is extensively used in road construction. It provides durability, stability, and weather resistance to the asphalt mixture used for road surfaces.

Industrial Bitumen

Industrial bitumen, also called oxidised (oxidized) bitumen, is utilised in various industrial applications such as waterproofing, insulation, adhesives, and corrosion protection.

Cutback Bitumen

Cutback bitumen is a combination of bitumen and a solvent, typically a petroleum distillate. It is used for applications requiring lower viscosity, such as prime coat for road construction and surface treatment.

Production of Bitumen

Bitumen can be produced through two primary methods: extraction from natural deposits and refining of crude oil.

Natural Bitumen

Natural bitumen, also referred to as tar sands or oil sands, is found in certain geological formations. It is extracted through open-pit mining or in-situ methods, such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). Canada, Venezuela, and Kazakhstan are the largest producers of natural bitumen.


Bitumen can also be obtained as a byproduct during the refining process of crude oil. After crude oil is distilled, the residue is further processed to extract bitumen, which is then used in various applications.

Importance of Bitumen

Bitumen plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of infrastructure worldwide. Its significance stems from the following factors:

Road Construction

Bitumen is the primary binder used in asphalt pavements, providing durability, flexibility, and resistance to heavy traffic, weather conditions, and aging.


Bitumen's excellent waterproofing properties make it a popular choice for roofing, damp proofing, and tank lining applications.

Adhesive Properties

Bitumen's adhesive nature enables it to bond various materials, making it ideal for applications such as pipe coating and joint sealing.

Use Cases of Bitumen

Bitumen finds extensive use across numerous industries and applications, including:

Road Surfacing

Bitumen is utilised for the construction and maintenance of roads, highways, runways, and parking lots.


Bitumen-based roofing materials, such as shingles and membranes, provide reliable waterproofing and weather resistance.


Bitumen is widely used for waterproofing basements, foundations, tunnels, and swimming pools.

Packaging Options and Shipping Methods

Bitumen is commonly packaged and transported in the following forms:

Bulk Shipment

Bitumen is often transported in heated tanker trucks or railway tank cars.

Drums and Containers

It can be packaged in drums or containers of varying sizes, typically ranging from 20 to 200 liters.


Specialised shipping containers, known as "bitutainers," are designed for transporting bitumen over long distances via land or sea.

Bitumen, with its versatile properties, plays a vital role in infrastructure development, waterproofing, and other industrial applications. Understanding the different types of bitumen, its production methods, and its wide range of use cases enables us to appreciate its importance in our daily lives. With various packaging options and shipping methods available, bitumen can be efficiently transported to meet the needs of construction projects worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is bitumen made of?

Bitumen is produced through the distillation of crude oil and also occur naturally as well. Its a thick high viscosity substance, that is heavily used in manufacturing asphalt, known for its high durability and waterproofing properties.

What is bitumen used for?

Bitumen is heavily used in manufacturing asphalt, road surfacing, roofing, certain types of paint as well as waterproofing and insulation.

Where can I buy bitumen in India?

Bitumax is a leading supplier of premium Bitumen and Bitumen related products to the Indian market. The best way to buy bitumen in India is to contact Bitumax.