Winter weather conditions in 2014 were devastating for many cities across North America.
Cities like Atlanta, Ga., were crippled for days on end, incurring lost revenue in the
millions. CBS News reported, “This season’s severe winter weather has cost the U.S.
economy an estimated $10 billion.”
Even though we cannot control the weather, we can be better prepared. Battling icy
winter conditions can be boiled down to three simple steps: Make eutectic salt brine,
apply anti-ice treatments and then close with deicing treatments.
Step 1: Make Eutectic Salt Brine
Making salt brine sounds simple, and it can be. The first thing you need to know when
making salt brine is the magic number: 23.3 percent. This is the percentage of salt by
weight, which is considered an optimum or eutectic salt brine.
Eutectic salt brine will work in temperatures down to -21.1 Celsius or -6 Fahrenheit,
without the need for additional or harsh chemicals. Too little salt combined with ice
crystals, and refreezing occurs. Too much salt combined with salt crystals, and refreezing
occurs. A percent or two off in either direction can raise the brine’s freezing point
by as much as 20 degrees. Automated brine making systems will help avoid human
error or the “close enough” approach, ensuring your salt brine will work as intended.
Step 2: Anti-Icing
Anti-icing is the process of applying salt brine to roadways, overpasses and intersections
prior to a winter weather event. Salt brine can be applied up to 48 hours before
winter precipitation starts to fall. The importance of anti-icing is the fact that it provides
a protective layer between the road’s surface and forming ice. “It takes four times more
chemical to break the bond than it does to prevent it,” said the Minnesota Department
Step 3: Deicing
Deicing is the final step in an effective ice control plan. A work truck fully armed for
deicing will have a snowplow, possibly a wing plow and a salt spreader outfitted with
pre-wet tanks. The snowplow and wing will remove most of the frozen precipitation. The
salt spreader will apply rock salt, providing a long-lasting residual and temporary traction
for motorists. Adding a pre-wet system filled with salt brine to your salt spreader
will speed up the salt’s activation time and greatly reduce scatter, keeping salt on the
road where it’s needed.
Often time people associate sand applications with deicing. While sand does provide
motorists with temporary traction, it does not melt frozen precipitation and it is expensive
to clean up.
The goal is to keep commerce moving and motorists safe. This can be achieved by
implementing an effective three-step ice control program.
Information provided by Brian Evans, marketing manager, Henderson Products Inc.