At FSI Landscape Supply, we support and supply landscaping professionals and snow/ice management contractors with bulk salt, sand, and other effective de-icing solutions. We are often asked how de-icing salt works, which type of salt and application method is best. Today’s article will cover frequently asked questions about de-icing salt.
How does de-icing salt work and what is the history behind its use?
Strong scientific evidence explains and confirms why de-icing salt is the number one choice for snow and ice management. Before we get into the best time to apply de-icing salt, it is essential to understand how it works. Road salt was first introduced as an experiment back in 1930. Since then, it has been documented to reduce accidents and collisions up to 93%. How does this natural mineral have that much power? Well, salt decreases the temperature of the water and keeps it in a liquid state. Therefore, preventing the water molecules from freezing. De-icing salt, also known as road salt, also has the ability to break the molecular bond between the ice and the surface it has formed on. Once the bond is broken, it allows for easier removal. Now that we have a bit of a background on how de-icing salt works, we will be discussing the various application methods.
Which salt is most effective?
When purchasing de-icing salt, it is essential to consider composition, temperature, and grain size. Understanding each aspect will allow snow and ice management contractors or landscaping professionals to make an effortless decision and deliver a proper application. When choosing a suitable de-icing salt, it is best to have a stockpile of various types of salt to address fluctuating temperatures. At -9°C, salt begins to slow down its effective rate; therefore, additional measures may need to be applied. There are three main types of salt for snow and ice management: vacuum, rock salt, and sea salt. Vacuum salt has the highest sodium chloride content and is a fine-grain road salt that works much more quickly. However, its effectiveness runs short. Rock and sea salt has a lower sodium chloride content. They can be found in both a fine-grain and coarse texture. Coarse grain salt has a slower reaction time; however, the effect remains active for much longer in comparison.
Which application is best?
As previously mentioned, de-icing salt or road salt prevents ice from forming and initiates melting action. However, there is a bit of a process on which application works best. De-icing salt can be used as a curative or preventative process depending on the state of road conditions. The curative salt spreading method is applied when roads, walkways, or sidewalks are experiencing winters precipitation. In contrast, the preventative process is when a salt application is performed before weather conditions arrive. The announcement of harsh weather conditions will initiate snow and ice management professionals to hit the roads. It is up to the professionals to decipher weather conditions to know which application method is best. For example, very wet conditions call for dry salt. More dry road conditions call for a brine solution which allows for better adherence. A combination of brine and rock salt can be used in various situations to tackle most conditions. Let us not forget about sand! When temperatures drop, and salt can only be effective for so long, sand is used as an effective solution to create traction.
When in doubt, ask the professionals. At FSI Landscape Supply, you will find a variety of bulk de-icing salt and sand/salt mixes. Contact FSI Landscape Supply today for more information!