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Milky?Soapy residue on wet roads?

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' at netrider.net.au started by VCM, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. Hey Gang :)
    As most of you may know, I started my 'life on two wheels' as winter begun. So I am pretty familiar with riding in the wet etc.. I have never come off ( touch wood ) thanks to the advice I received here from alot of you regarding wet weather riding and what do look out for.
    Today, on my way to work I encountered something I havent seen before. Travelling on the new Dandenong By-Pass, I stopped at Hammond Rd Lights to see the wet road ( was still raining ) 'bleeding' this white stuff which floated to the top of the water and was running off along the road. Was almost like a milky-soapy looking substance.. very sudsy :?
    I was like WTF???? :? :?
    First thought was perhaps the line markings were getting a wash-off... but it didnt look like it was coming from anywhere near the new lines. I saw more of it as I rode on.
    Needless to say, I steered clear of it.
    Perhaps Joel could shed some light?

  2. I know the road and im willing to put money on it that its diesel fuel
    mixing with the water

    that road has a crapload of trucks that go down it......abbots road is another ice rink in the wet to watch out for

    greens road is not so bad but be careful down the vic roads end
  3. Yup, that would be my call too.
  4. If it was/had been raining heavily the chances are it was a natural component of heavy rain.

    I've seen this frothy, bubbly water running quite fast after downpours in all sorts of conditions, from sealed roads to gravel and even in farm paddocks on grass.

    The places I have seen it did not have diesel spills. I don't know under what circumstances it appears, other than that it is frequently there when there has been a long dry spell.

    Diesel and water don't mix. Diesel disperses/displaces water, like any oil-based product, including petrol. I don't usually see any frothing when diesel encounters water, or vice versa. I do see the frothing with heavy rain as indicated above, though.


    Trevor Graetz

    PS If it was diesel the signs would still be there after the rain. Diesel needs an absorbent material - sand, woodshavings, or the special mix of whatever that the coucils put down on diesel spills. If there was diesel there, in combination with water it would have been extremely slippery - somone would have had it attended to.

    If not, there would still be a very dark stain on the surface, even on a new section of road.
  5. It didn't have that 'rainbow' appearance, which usually signifies oil ?? correct?
    To be honest i don't know what fuel on a wet road looks like , is it similar to oil?
    Damned if I know what that soapy stufff was, if you are correct Trev, do you know what it is... what causes it, and should it be avoided??
  6. I'd be guessing diesel/oil/etc - a small amount of that + water = foam provided there's enough agitation (ie heavy rain). Plenty of other things will have the same affect, including things like fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides etc. which is why it appears in paddocks (even salt will produce a very good foam under the right conditions which can often be seen on the ocean).
  7. We had some light rain this morning and I noticed 2 sections of road with the foamy/frothy water. In both places the road was slightly depressed so that the water gathered there. A few weeks ago when I last saw it, it was in a gutter, flowing under mild rain.

    I have never encountered any problem with it - it isn't slippery under foot. It only appears in certain spots, it is usually not wide spread, and no, I don't have an explanation. Yet.


    Trevor G

    PS As others have also pointed out, petrol or diesel spills assume a rainbow or swirling appearance when water is applied.

    If it was diesel the road would be extremely slippery at that point.

    When the froth appears in the ocean it is usually dirty as well. The stuff I see on roads and in paddocks is usually very clean-looking. I seriously doubt that it has anything to do with fertiliser or fuel.
  8. and that is why the first 20 minutes of any rain storm are the most dangerous!.
    After that, the residue/seepage is washed away.
    AVOID IT!.
  9. A wild guess here.
    How often do you see people washing their windscreens.
    the stuff squirted is water and detergent in most circumstances.
    It may just be excess detergent lying around.
  10. That's 'cause there's a lot of stuff in the ocean attracted to froth - ie stuff that doesn't really want to be in the water.

    A large amount of diesel/fuel/oil will give a rainbow pattern - but a small amount works as a very effective surfactant (it's a principle widely used in coal production). Too much or not enough and you don't get foam - which is why it doesn't happen all the time. If you've got a blender it's easy to test it out for yourself at home - try water with varying amounts of oil on flat out and see what happens ;).
  11. No idea what it is, but on Saturday moring during the fairly solid rain, there was heaps of it on the roads around Carlton and Flemington. I mean everywhere. I wasn't noticeably slippery, either. I don't get the feeling that it's oil - it was too widespread, plus there was no greasiness or rainbow effect at all.
    Doesn't seem to be a problem. :?
  12. :? :? What have I stumbled on ..

    .. ( music from the 'twilight zone' playing in the background ) :eek:
  13. to be an oil based product eg kero, diesel, fuel, motor oil - it would need to have emulsified to produce a white and/or frothy appearance.
    the easiest way to "break" an oil product to help with emulsification is the use of a detergent. that, or heat + water + oil + agitation.
    unlikely to be an oil product on its own.
    could have been a small NAOH spill.....or any number of other things *shrug*
  14. for the NSW people, did anyone else spot the endless diesel spill in the twisty bit of the putty yesterday afternoon? Every corner (and many of the straights) for about 10km. Could have been longer than that to start with but the rain was getting stronger.
  15. Actually, that milky stuff is 'Stupidity':

    - there's heaps of it on our roads.
    - it's more obvious when the road is wet.
    - most of it comes from cars.
  16. The soap suds is usual oil and diesel deposits that seep into the road surface over time...The rain mixes with it and draws it out of the road surface. It is probably not too slipperly in of inself....but it IS a sign that there is oil around there, and you should be cautious.

    The suds are caused by traffic splashing through it, mixing it up.
  17. Actually with the right conditions (like lots of agitation and aeration) you really only need the oil - but glycols (like those found in antifreeze) make very effective "detergents" and could easily be contributing to the affect . You'd only need a very tiny amount and highly likely there'd be some present on almost any road. A lot of natural plant-based compounds are also extremely effective eg. eucalytpus oil.
  18. yeah, i know.
    in fact, to make bitumen emulsion, the bitumen and water are forced through a bitumen mill which physically breaks the bitumen and suspends it in the water. no detergent used at all, so i know it can be done, i guess i am just a little pessimistic when it comes to magically having the "right" conditions :?
  19. Yeah but the way I see it those "right" conditions are so varied that it seems the most likely cause. As mentioned the right surfactant in even the tiniest of amounts would have a dramatic affect - plus you also have the agitation from heavy rain and possibly also vehicle tyres playing a part. And with paddocks there'd be no shortage of natural surfactants around especially after a long dry period (lots of plants produce chemicals to prevent insects attacking them which would work as a surfactant).