Road Salt

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
6,639
Eastern Central PA
BG - Chat moved to separate thread
I feel like bituminous tar and rubber being washed off the roads is also a bad idea.
And road salt -ice melt chemicals. Might be hard to find a more eco friendly for these. Sand works to some extent.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,409
Downeast Maine
And road salt -ice melt chemicals. Might be hard to find a more eco friendly for these. Sand works to some extent.
Beet juice works better than salt or calcium chloride, but it is more expensive, but also better for the environment.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,267
Philadelphia
Beet juice works better than salt or calcium chloride, but it is more expensive, but also better for the environment.
Beet juice as ice melt? I know it’s a popular non-corrosive CaCl2 replacement for tire ballasting, but wasn’t aware it was a good ice melter. I will say it’s as slippery as greased ice when it leaks onto your barn floor, which likely makes it a poor choice for ice melt applications, even if it does melt the ice.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,409
Downeast Maine
Beet juice as ice melt? I know it’s a popular non-corrosive CaCl2 replacement for tire ballasting, but wasn’t aware it was a good ice melter. I will say it’s as slippery as greased ice when it leaks onto your barn floor, which likely makes it a poor choice for ice melt applications, even if it does melt the ice.
The biggest downside appears to be roads that smell of stale coffee... As if that's worse than salt ;lol

 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
6,639
Eastern Central PA
Any kind of ice melt i ever saw used on sidewalks damages the concrete. Not sure how they put so much on the concrete highways and it doesnt eat them to pieces. It sure does eat sidewalks and steps to pieces. Even the stuff that claim "safe for sidewalks".
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,267
Philadelphia
Any kind of ice melt i ever saw used on sidewalks damages the concrete. Not sure how they put so much on the concrete highways and it doesnt eat them to pieces. It sure does eat sidewalks and steps to pieces. Even the stuff that claim "safe for sidewalks".
We don’t have many concrete highways left in eastern PA, most have been covered with blacktop over the last 25 years. I always assumed this was the reason for it.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
6,639
Eastern Central PA
We don’t have many concrete highways left in eastern PA, most have been covered with blacktop over the last 25 years. I always assumed this was the reason for it.
They did do a big part of Rt 81 with concrete yrs ago, possibly when oil went thru the roof ,but i seems like they are converting it all back to blacktop . Was like driving over a washboard with the concrete. Dont ,miss it a bit.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,940
Northern NH
There are various surface treatments that can be applied to pavement in advance of certain storm types that prevents the ice from adhering to the road. It requires good planning in advance. The treatments are not cheap but can reduce the amount of salt used. Salt is mostly a convenience. It extends bare tar conditions into the winter. That allows more traffic to go faster with marginal equipment. Far northern countries typically do not use salt. They also require studs or chains and traffic goes slower. Long ago I had an uncle that owned an auto junkyard north of Montreal. The cars from north of him had good bodies but rough suspensions while the cars from south of there had heavy body rot.
 

Grizzerbear

Feeling the Heat
Feb 12, 2019
323
SW Missoura
I work for the street department of my local town and we use salt. It sucks really. Its only good to around 17 or 18 degrees then it wont melt the ice and snow so we have to add chemical to it. Thats not too often down here tho. As far as concrete vs black top......its cheaper. There is a lot more labor involved with concrete because of forms and finish work whereas with asphalt pretty much two guys on a paver and a couple guys ahead of them shoveling some in low spots or what have you before paver goes over it. Blacktop takes the abuse of salt pretty well too. I hate the salt tho because all winter long it is impregnated in the shop parking area. It really eats a vehicle inside out and there is no way to stay ahead of it short of washing your rig every day.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Not to mention it's hard on automobile electrical systems. Out here in east nowhere, it's more about mud than anything else. Pavement ends 2 miles from the farm. Color choice of vehicles out here is tan or silver...lol
 

JimBear

Feeling the Heat
Dec 15, 2017
337
Iowa
I have hauled a lot of road salt from mines in Kansas, at one mine I would occasionally pickup loads of road salt coated/drowned in beet juice. It seemed to go more to landscaping companies that were doing sidewalks & parking lots. All I can say about it is that straight up salt comes out of the trailer much better & is cleaner to haul. That beet juice covered stuff almost had to be shoveled out & usually required a washout to get that syrup coating off the slopes of my trailer. I can’t remember the trade name off the top of my head.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,409
Downeast Maine
This winter I've been working for a local snow removal company and we use tons of salt every storm. The big trucks try to get the roads salted before snow starts to accumulate, but often times they are spreading as they plow to break up the ice that usually forms as they plow. My job is to manage the shovel crew and doing the "finish work" which involves lots of shoveling and salt on walkways, decking, etc for local businesses. Pretty much all of the exposed concrete is pitted, cracked, and busted. Most parking lots are gravel or black top. Not much concrete around.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,683
SW Virginia
Most probably don't realize the extent of water contamination that has resulted from the use of salt on roads and elsewhere. It has polluted many drinking water supplies including wells and surface reservoirs. in Northern VA, a primary reservoir, the Occoquan, is reaching levels of sodium that may soon require removal treatment (a very expensive option) or going to an alternative water source.

Although state departments of transportation are frequently blamed some interesting research from NH has shown that private sources such as parking lots and driveways actually contribute more than their fair share when compared to public roads. Many private operators over apply either though bad practices or the direction of property owners that insist on seeing salt crystals on the ground even when no snow or ice may be present or forecast. They see it as liability aversion.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,683
SW Virginia
I work for the street department of my local town and we use salt. It sucks really. Its only good to around 17 or 18 degrees then it wont melt the ice and snow so we have to add chemical to it. Thats not too often down here tho. As far as concrete vs black top......its cheaper. There is a lot more labor involved with concrete because of forms and finish work whereas with asphalt pretty much two guys on a paver and a couple guys ahead of them shoveling some in low spots or what have you before paver goes over it. Blacktop takes the abuse of salt pretty well too. I hate the salt tho because all winter long it is impregnated in the shop parking area. It really eats a vehicle inside out and there is no way to stay ahead of it short of washing your rig every day.
It is messy when applied to salt as a wetting agent or alone.
Organics like beet juice are also bad for the surface waters they end up in. Once large slugs of organics like beet juice hit a waterway its biological degradation consumes most of the dissolved oxygen in the water and can result in fish kills.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Most probably don't realize the extent of water contamination that has resulted from the use of salt on roads and elsewhere. It has polluted many drinking water supplies including wells and surface reservoirs. in Northern VA, a primary reservoir, the Occoquan, is reaching levels of sodium that may soon require removal treatment (a very expensive option) or going to an alternative water source.

Although state departments of transportation are frequently blamed some interesting research from NH has shown that private sources such as parking lots and driveways actually contribute more than their fair share when compared to public roads. Many private operators over apply either though bad practices or the direction of property owners that insist on seeing salt crystals on the ground even when no snow or ice may be present or forecast. They see it as liability aversion.
I can relate to that. Salt application washes down storm sewers and gets in the lakes and streams. It's the put it on and it washes away and sight unseen syndrome. I'm very glad I live far removed from any salt or de icer application on an unpaved road miles from pavement and sat application.

Never knew beet juice was used. I always thought it was for ag tractor tire ballast.
 

ben94122

Member
Sep 4, 2017
70
California
Out here in the Sierras we use sand, which works great. Never understood why it wasn't used in the rest of the country. Maybe there are just too many roads to make sanding practical. I use sand on my front walkway, too.
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Hot sand on ice is great. Hot sand melts into the ice and creates a sandpaper like surface. Used in Northern Michigan but not down here because they say the sand clogs storm sewers. Sounds lame to me but what do I know anyway.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
6,639
Eastern Central PA
Out here in the Sierras we use sand, which works great. Never understood why it wasn't used in the rest of the country. Maybe there are just too many roads to make sanding practical. I use sand on my front walkway, too.
Its about as eco friendly as you can get. I can imagine what salt does to a clean trout stream.
 
Lately our road maintenance crews have been using less and less salt on the roads. More so due to cost and budget cutbacks that environmental reasons, but to be honest I like it better. I on a daily basis cross the boundary between 2 municipalities that do maintenance at different intervals, that leads to some roads being salted with the next section not. The section that wasn't salted gets extremely slippery with the salt tracked onto it from the salted areas. It's also been too cold lately for salt to be effective, so some sand is used instead. But a lot of places the maintenance crews plow the road and that's it, only sanding critical intersections.

We have all gotten used to the change in road care, most of us now run winter tires many of them being studded and just adapt to the conditions. It's also not uncommon to see semi's running around through town with tires chains on to get enough traction.

Some cities have tries calcium chloride with extreme push back from residents due to increased corrosion on vehicles, and others have used beet juice with moderately successful results. Ultimately the best seems to be to just keep the snow off the roads by plowing, to apply sand as needed and run winter tires, leaving salt only for freezing rain events.
 
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WinterinWI

Member
Dec 6, 2018
150
Wisconsin
Many private operators over apply either though bad practices or the direction of property owners that insist on seeing salt crystals on the ground even when no snow or ice may be present or forecast. They see it as liability aversion.
There is certainly truth to that. Many business owners would rather dump a bunch of extra salt down than risk an expensive workers comp claim or lawsuit.

There are some snow/temperature conditions that I just shake my head when I see salt being put down, particularly when it's still snowing. Some types of snow are pretty easy to walk on without being slippery, and turning it into slush can make it worse.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
CACL and brine are death on vehicle electrical systems and suspension parts too.