I genuinely believe that an asphalt release agent is one of the most crucial tools that a paving crew has on board. After all, it is their lifeline to efficiency: it decreases equipment downtime, keeps the crew from exhausting, and allows you to pave longer with fewer interruptions. 

That is if your asphalt release agent is effective. 

But unfortunately, most aren’t. With the 2024 paving season kicking off as we speak, let’s take a look at the most common methods of preventing asphalt adhesion and see why PavePro outshines the competition as the best release agent on the market. 

Citrus release agents are a common diesel-fuel alternative made from citrus by-products. They are known for their citrusy fragrance. Often touted as “safe and natural,” these orange by-products aren’t all they crack up to be.

According to the SDSs published by citrus release agent manufacturers, their products contain various carcinogens and toxic chemicals, however, they are completely legal and biodegradable. Citrus products are considered hazardous materials.

The biggest problem you’ll find with citrus products as asphalt release agents is their lower-than-diesel flash points. Clocking in at only 115°F, you won’t find that they last very long at all under the heat of 300°F hot mix, evaporating away and rendering useless after a few minutes.

Pros:

  • Biodegradable
  • Pleasant fragrance
  • EPA-compliant

Cons:

  • Incredibly expensive (the most expensive on the market)
  • Toxic and carcinogenic chemical makeup
  • A low flash point makes for a weak release power
  • Harsh chemicals eat away at paint, dull out aluminum, and are not water-deactivated

Overall, asphalt release agents that are made from citrus products are low 2-star products. With an incredibly low flash point, toxic chemical makeup, and high price tag, the only things going for them are their environmental-friendliness and legality. 

#4: Soy

All soy asphalt release agents are one-in-the-same as citrus products: they are simply by-product oils that are capable of breaking down asphalt build-up and preventing it from occurring. Soy products are water-dilutable and DOT-approved. Aside from a flash point of around 200°F, they don’t stand out as a capable asphalt release agent. But they are better than citrus products.

Soy release agents need to be handled with care. Though not as harsh as citrus, soy products require extensive PPE when applying them.

Pros:

  • Flash point of 200°F ranks above citrus
  • Water-dilutable
  • DOT-approved and biodegradable

Cons:

  • Flash point is still significantly lower than the heat of the asphalt and evaporates upon contact
  • By-product, non-specifically formulated

Overall, soy asphalt release agents are low 3-star products. While they aren’t necessarily awful products, there isn’t anything special about them that makes them stand out in the market. They are a middle-of-the-pack alternative to using diesel fuel.

#3: Dish Soap

This might come as a surprise to some folks, but dish soap is a fairly effective method of preventing asphalt build-up until the water you mix it with evaporates away. The problem with dish soap is that it evaporates as soon as the asphalt hits your truck bed. Dish soap is very similar to the release agent provided at asphalt plants. It’s diluted with water and applied to primarily truck beds, but can work in other locations as well.

Here’s a fairly unknown fact about dish soap: even when diluted, it thickens when warmed and can cause additional build-up and pick-up.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Readily available
  • Legal

Cons:

  • Evaporates with water at around 212°F
  • Ineffective after a few minutes in contact with hot mix
  • Thickens when warm and causes sticking
  • No real benefits to using it over “real” release agents

Overall, dish soap is a solid 3-star asphalt release agent. It’s cheap, easy to find, and gets the job done. Since it was designed to clean dishes, there are no real benefits to using it to prevent build-up and it evaporates away very quickly under the heat of the hot mix. 

Tired of your good-for-nothing asphalt remover or release agent and ready to make a switch?

#2: Diesel Fuel

Using diesel fuel as an asphalt release agent is the most common method to prevent asphalt build-up on paving jobs. Like dish soap, it’s cheap and readily available on any street corner. It works far better than most other products on the market. But there are two big problems: 

  1. Its performance is incredibly limited by its flash point; you can only get around 1 truck load and 25 shovel loads with it
  2. It is federally illegal, prohibited by asphalt plants, and frowned upon by DOTs; you just can’t get away with it on most jobs anymore

Here’s another fairly unknown fact for you: diesel fuel is notorious for stripping asphalt and causing future problems in your mat. Because it takes up to 3 months to biodegrade out of the pavement, any excess diesel fuel that drips or slides into your mix can cause raveling and dissolve the oils in your mix. 

Pros:

  • Effective at preventing build-up
  • Available at any gas station
  • Some pavers still have sprayers that draw from the diesel tank

Cons:

  • Efficiency is limited by it’s 130°F flash point
  • It is unsafe, toxic, and highly combustible
  • It is prohibited for use as a release agent in every US state
  • Strips asphalt
  • Can become expensive fast as crews have to constantly reapply

Overall, diesel fuel is a low 4-star asphalt release agent. Known as the gold-standard method to prevent asphalt build-up, it’s cheap and fairly effective. However, diesel is severely limited by two factors: its flash point and its legal status. 

#1: PavePro

Our asphalt release agent is unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. PavePro is lab-formulated and field-tested for optimal performance that outlasts diesel fuel 3 to 1. With a flash point of over 400°F, PavePro Green can last nearly all day with one single application in your paving hopper and multiple truckloads before it requires reapplication. Not only does it prevent more build-up than diesel fuel, but it does so with less product required, saving you time and labor on application and money on product.

PavePro is DOT-approved and 100% biodegradable. It’s also water-deactivated, so you don’t have to worry about spilling it on your mat or messing up any critical components on your machine.

Here’s a cool fact for you: a 2022 study with a customer in Georgia showed a 60% reduction in equipment downtime and maintenance when using PavePro Green as their asphalt release agent, as opposed to diesel fuel. PavePro has a unique ability to lubricate fragile moving components in your machines and doesn’t evaporate away, protecting them from wear and tear.

Pros:

  • Specially formulated to prevent build-up; not a by-product
  • 3x longer-lasting release power compared to diesel fuel
  • 400°F+ flash point; highest on the market
  • 1 application can last all day in your paver’s hopper
  • Increased lubricity to prevent wear and tear
  • Environmentally-safe and DOT-approved
  • Best value asphalt release agent on the market
  • Safe on skin, non-toxic, non-carcinogenic

Cons:

  • Most products are not dilutable with water (though PavePro Blue is)
  • More expensive than diesel fuel

Overall, PavePro is a solid 5-star asphalt release agent. As the first and only patented replacement for diesel fuel on the market, PavePro is quickly making its mark on the asphalt industry. It’s not just some by-product or fuel that just-so-happens to prevent build-up. PavePro was designed by Ph.D. chemists and field-tested by hundreds of companies to prove itself as the most effective asphalt release agent on the market. 

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