Popular soil stabilization methods include soil ramming, use of natural binding agents and incorporation of chemical additives, according to the Industrial Resources Council. Soil ramming involves physically compacting the soil to remove air pockets. It does not affect the chemical composition of the soil. Natural stabilizers such as clay are also effective and provide longer lasting results than soil ramming, especially when used together with polymer-based additives.
Other methods of soil stabilization involve additives such as bitumen, cement, polymers and fibers. Bitumen is a popular choice for stabilizing roads. It is inexpensive but environmentally hazardous. It also loses resiliency as it dries over time. Cement is an inexpensive alternative to bitumen, although it has negative consequences for the local environment as well, especially when used over large areas.
The Industrial Resources Council states that polymer-based soil stabilizers provide dramatic improvement in stability and tensile capacity. Many of these stabilizers must first be combined with clay. Other polymers are powdered additives that reconfigure the soil particles but have no intrinsic binding effect. The National Lime Association indicates that lime is also a popular powdered stabilizer. The primary drawback of powdered soil stabilizers is their time-consuming and difficult application. They require dry application conditions and even distribution throughout the soil. Improper application of powdered additives exacerbates the soil's instability.