One of the quickest and easiest soil tests that we use is called the Mason jar test. This is an onsite test we use to determine the approximate ratio of clay to sand in a particular soil.

Basically soil is made up of small particles (clay) and larger particles (sand). The percentages of each type of particle will determine which plants will thrive in any particular location. It is also important to know the percentages of particles in the soil when using soil for natural building. So this is what we use the Mason jar test for.

The only materials required for this test are a jar, some soil, and some water. Simply take the jar and fill it about halfway up with soil. Then fill it the rest of the way up with water. Give it a good shake and let it sit so that the particles will begin to settle. You will see the soil start to settle into different layers. The first layer that will settle will be the largest sand particles, then medium sized silt particles, and finally the smallest clay particles will form the layer on the top.

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