The sticky, inert substances that go into quality pavement are not exactly the stuff of life. But even road surfaces can get tired and need a pick me up.

Enter the "asphalt rejuvenator," a concept relatively new to South Carolina that has proven its merit in a Charleston County test run. It's been likened to protecting a wood deck with water sealer, or bringing dry hair back to life with conditioner.

For transportation departments, it's a cost-effective way to extend the life of a road without having to resort to resurfacing.

Reclaimite, a treatment for worn-out streets, has been found to be so effective that the county wants Pavement Technology Inc. to continue its program here.

On Thursday, County Council OK'd a $413,000 contract with the firm to treat selected low-volume, low-speed streets. The process puts oils back into the asphalt that the sun destroys. And it forms a protective coating to seal against water intrusion that cause cracking and potholes, officials said.

Reclaimite is sprayed on a road and allowed to penetrate. The pavement is lightly sanded to blot up any excess material. Then it is vacuumed the next day. The process poses no environmental risk, the county said.

The product got a try-out on two short stretches of road in Horry County, said Pete Poore, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. It performed satisfactorily but the DOT has no contract for further work, he said.

Although new here, Reclaimite has been used extensively by many county governments, municipalities and airports throughout the nation for more than 60 years, officials said.

Its tryout here started last year when Charleston County awarded a $236,000 contract to Pavement Technology to treat 272,000 square yards of roadway. Stretches of road about two-football fields long were sprayed.

The county Transportation Development Department recommends that the county utilize the treatment annually to keep its roads in good condition. Under the new contract, 458,000 square yards of roadway will be treated.

The cost of the pavement rejuvenation is as little as 10 percent of the more traditional methods of road rehabilitation, officials said.

Reclaimite has been used at airports in the Palmetto State. Anderson County and the City of North Myrtle Beach are in the process of evaluating its use, officials said.