Soil Permeability and Texture

By Kimberly Flessner

Objective:  The students will be given several types of soil to test how water permeable each type of soil is. 


  • 3 tin cans with the bottoms cut out
  • fine screening
  • different types of soil
  • gravel 
  • sand
  • clay
  • black dirt
  • duct tape or some other type of clamp
  • 6 - 250 mL beakers
  • magnifying glass
  • plain white paper


  • Each group of students should collect 3 pieces of plain white paper and samples of three different types of soil.  Place each types of soil on a piece of paper and look at the texture and color of the soil.  Record this information in a data table. 
  • After observing the three soil types each student should make a prediction of which the water will run through the fastest to the slowest. 
  • Prepare each of the three cans by duct taping the fine screening to one of the open ends of the can. 
  • Into each of the three cans place about 2 inches of the three different types of soil. 
  • Holding one of the cans with soil in to over a 250 mL beaker pour 200 mL of water into the soil and collect how much water will run through it in 1 minute.  Then after 5 minutes see how much water has moved through the soil. 
  • Repeat with the other 2 types of soil. 


  1. How did your predictions compare with the results?
  2. Which of these soils would be the best to use of drainage  material?
  3. How does the texture of the soil compare to its water permeability?
  4. Do you think your results would change if you packed the soil into the can?
Data Table: 
Soil Type Soil Texture and Color Predicted Permeability Amount of water  after 1 minute Amount of water after 5 minutes