Do you get what your paying for? Repost

It seems important enough to Post again!!

It occurs to me that most County Road Commissions and their Townships are purchasing Dust Control on good faith. In my experience at MDOT, no materials, services or parts were purchased without a written specification in place at the time the contractors were bidding.  I see the same for Counties and Townships, with the exception of Dust Control. In reviewing recent bids, the majority have no specific requirements to ensure that the agency is getting what they’re paying for.

When a Road Commission purchases grader blades, asphalt, gravel and emulsions, specific quantities, types, gradations, material content are all spelled out. When it comes to Dust Control, honesty is the best policy. No analytical follow up, most cases, are required for loads delivered or placed.

I am still confused as to how some mineral well brine suppliers come up with their “26%” solution number. If you look at their test results, the hygroscopic material, Calcium Chloride is as low as 17%, never higher than 21.5%. Magnesium Chloride at 3% – 4%, and Sodium Chloride @ 4% – 6%.  So when you do the math, there can be anywhere from total content of 24% – 31%. Each load can vary by 3% to 7%. An even bigger issue is what is in the product you are paying for? Calcium Chloride is the work horse; it is what keeps the fines in place, dust down and maintenance cost low.  Any Mineral or Oil Field sales person that shows up at your door will compare their product to LIQUIDOW* 38% Calcium Chloride, the best product on the market, on this point we all agree. Mag Chloride at less than 20% is no more effective then water andthis is a big and – Sodium Chloride (salt) actually adds to the dust problem.  In its natural state, salt is a solid, it returns to a solid as it becomes dry. Just think of the highway after the big snow storm, remember the dust? That is salt on the road that wasn’t diluted; it then is blown around by traffic, in to the ditches and waterways, into homes. What impact does this have on residents with breathing problems? What impact will this create in the future for our lakes, streams and drinking water?  At the recommended application rates, mineral well brines put more than one-ton of salt in the environment for every mile of road, times that by the number of applications per year, more salt goes into the air, lakes and streams, than during the winter on paved roads. Oil Field Brines have been tested at over three times the Sodium content. The DNRE is reviewing current permits of this type of brine and looks to be categorizing it with Oil Field Brine for these very reasons, trying to reduce the environmental impact.

Typical Mineral Well Product Storage

The next major consideration; contractors will honestly tell you they store their product in large lagoon type ponds. Some of these are up to 1.5 acres and hold over five million gallons of product. As I look out my window, I am watching the rain come down; we are in an incredibly wet spring, over 3 inches of rain in 3 days. This got me thinking, how much water would that add to one of these storage lagoons? Some quick research shows that each inch of rain over one acre equals over 27,000 gallons of water, times 1.5 acres = 40.500 gallons. Then multiply that by 3 inches of rain equals 122,000 gallons of water added to one of these storage lagoons. So, this begs the question. How diluted will the customers material be? There have been claims that you can evaporate the water. If it is truly a hygroscopic material as claimed, it draws moisture, it can’t work both ways! Unless you’re inspecting loads or requiring samples from each load for random analytical testing, chances are you’re going to have dust problems, you will lose fines in the aggregate, the road will deteriorate at an accelerated rate and you’re already tight budgets will be spread even further.

When purchasing LIQUIDOW* Calcium Chloride for snow & ice or dust control, quality control measures are in place ensuring that every load of product delivered is what you specified. We test it, we sample it and we ask that you sample and test as well. I would go as far as to suggest that when bidding Dust Control, require that 26%, 28% or 38% be within +/- 1% of the percent of the percentage bid. That it be of the “primary constituent”. In other words, if you are paying for Calcium Chloride for Dust Control, you should be measuring for Calcium Chloride. Total Chlorides don’t get the job done. Sodium actually works against what you’re trying to accomplish. We would be more than happy to help you design a specification that will protect your interest and save you money in the long run. Please contact us with your snow and ice, or dust control

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This Early Sign of Road Failure is a Threat to Driving Safety, Public Health and the Environment


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Is it Really That Good?

Every now and then we are approached with claims of how a product of all products, will solve all or our problems!

It can be the latest cell phone, new car or any number of snake oils. I have talked to a lot of customers that have been promised all their snow and ice problems can be solved by adding a certain organic additive to their brine, or use it as a stand alone liquid.

With that being said, we came across a couple of articles that really brought those claims home for me. Some, I’m sure will bring a smile.

Here are a few:

The root cause of USC’s basketball success this season just might be … beet juice?


USC basketball players Bennie Boatwright, left, and Nikola Jovanovic, right, pose for a portrait holding beet juice, which they drink before every game. (LA Times article)

Make you stronger

Helps lower blood pressure

Prevents wrinkles

Enhances Viagra effects (my personal favorite)

Improve athletic performance

Improve skiing

Reduce tooth decay

Reduce dandruff


Boost Memory

Build muscle

Lipstick substitute

Fight acne

Hair dye


Well, that is quite a list. My point is, maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but like Mom used to say, “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is!”.

When looking at Liquid deicers and Dust Control products, it is good to remember that the part that does the melting of snow and ice or keeps the dust down on gravel roads is the primary constituent, such as Calcium Chloride.

Organics are great for reducing corrosion, making the product viscos (sticky) to stick salt brine to the pavement surface. It makes chlorides more user friendly when anti-icing.

My point is, try a little before you commit to a full blown program and get caught spending a lot of money for little actual gain.

I am attaching a manual we developed to help with field testing liquid products. I hope this will help with your operation.

MDOT Field Chemical Testing Manual

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Response to Recent Comments.

I truly appreciate comments from folks that take the time to read my post. I had a couple of comments recently from David S., regarding the Mixing of Calcium Chloride w/BOOST and salt brine. David questions the fact that Beet Juice, mixed with brine reduces the sodium content proportionately to the amount of Beet Juice added. He claims that the when you measure specific gravity in increases it’s melting capacity.

I’m sorry David, I have to disagree. We have done the testing and field work that disproves your statement. You would have to test the primary ingredients (sodium chloride) in the brine mix too, just to measure specific gravity, you measure the weight of the dissolved solids in the liquid. As you know, Beet Juice uses carbohydrates to keep ice in a glassy state, think popsicle as compared to an ice cube, it doesn’t actually melt snow and ice. Not to mention it becomes viscous the colder the temperature outdoors. This causes real problems for pumping equipment. I have witnessed that issue first hand.

David also questions environmental issues with Calcium Chloride or Calcium Chloride w/BOOST. When applied to sidewalks and roadways you are using around .004/gallon per square yard. Much less the amount of salt or Beet Juice product required to do the same job. I have witnessed that as well.

Back Camera

The above Photo is a perfect  example of Beet Juice, mixed with salt brine used as a pre-wet on salt, compared to rock salt, pre-wetted with CaCl2 w/BOOST.  The bare pavement is brine from the State route, being tracked around the corner as compared to the Beet Juice treated salt on the City street approaching the intersection. I have also witnessed loads of salt in the salt hoppers freeze in 3 degree weather, when treat with salt / Beet Juice add mixture. Not just one truck but in all trucks that were working. It’s tough to provide a service to your customers when your trying to chip salt blocks out of the back of your plow truck!!!

As far as Environmental issues David, you may want to check the phosphorous level in the Beet Juice products you are selling. It is my experience that Beet Juice can not meet the PNS standards for phosphorous levels released in the environment. As I’m sure you know, phosphorous, once in the environment is hazardous to lakes and streams.

As a final thought, I wanted to review a few Beet Juice Myths:

MYTH : Beet juice products are environmentally safe.

  • According to Stormwater magazine, beet juice products may have a high phosphorus level. Relatively small amounts of phosphorus can have a drastic adverse affect on aquatic ecosystems.  One consequence has led to recent recommendations from lake associations that lawn fertilizer applied at lake front homes be phosphorus free.  Another issue may be an increase in biological oxygen demand (BOD) from run off of beet juice products into the receiving waters.   As the unrefined organic material from beet juice breaks down in a body of water, oxygen is consumed.  This increase in BOD can produce low oxygen conditions in these waters.  Environments most likely to be affected are pools, wetlands, and small lakes.

MYTH : Beet juice added to liquid chloride of choice lowers corrosion.

  • Beet juice vendors claim their corrosion test results show that when beet juice is added to sodium chloride brine corrosiveness is reduced 50% (+/-).  PNS testing found the corrosion rate effectiveness of BOOST to be at a minimum 80% less corrosive than sodium chloride (rock salt).

MYTH : Beet juice products reduce chloride use.

  • Some beet juice product vendors make this claim on the one hand, but recommend some of the highest application rates (up to 60 gallons per lane mile) on the other hand.  Combine this with their recommended blend rate of 1 part beet juice to 1 part liquid chloride (also one of the highest suggested) and you end up with up to 60 gallons of chloride per mile.  Our recommended rate for BOOST application is as low as 15 gallons per lane mile.

MYTH : Beet juice products provide monetary savings.

  • In fact, at recently quoted prices of over $2.00 per gallon, beet juice products are more than twice the cost of BOOST.  Additionally, beet juice products when mixed with sodium chloride brine have nearly 40% less active ingredient than BOOST (23% vs. 32%).  When PRICE and PERFORMANCE are evaluated, BOOST is by far the better option.

MYTH : Calcium chloride based products will soon be limited or banned from use as deicers.

  • This could not be farther from the truth.  In fact, calcium chloride has been in use for over 100 years.  GLC’s calcium chloride originates from an underground ocean of natural brine beneath northwestern Michigan.  It then is processed and concentrated.  Calcium chloride is widely used for dust control and base stabilization.  It is also used in many food products such as olives, pickles, bottled water, canned potatoes, sugar-free jelly, to name a few.  Of note, it is also used as an actual component in many plant fertilizer blends.

GLC previously marketed a corrosion-inhibited calcium chloride that utilized beet juice as the inhibitor.  Due to problems with quality and consistency of the beet juice additive, the product was discontinued.  GLC then moved on to the next generation of corrosion-inhibited calcium chloride, BOOST, a product that exhibits both high quality and consistent performance.

We hope this allows you to better evaluate the liquid products that you use to battle ice and snow.  It is GLC’s intention to offer you one of the best liquid deicers on the market today, BOOST, ( at a competitive price.

Thank you again for your comments David S., I am always happy to discuss de-icing liquids with the folks who read my Blog.


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Gathering Deicing Information by Storm Event!

I have been asked numerous times why a product or a deicing method didn’t work during the last storm, It worked before??

There are lot’s of reasons. What was the temp, surface or air? What was the application rate? Was the wind a factor?

All good questions, but everyone seems to plow, (pardon the pun) straight in with the same method, application rate and timing for every storm event. The best thing you can do is to compare events with similar characteristics. Temp, snow fall amount, humidity, wind can all be factors on how deicers perform. Remember the phase curves and how temp and dilution effect their performance.

I talked about this at length with Dale Keep, Ice & Snow Technologies, Inc. a number of years ago. I want to share the T.A.P.E.R log he provided and info that goes with it for tracking storm events for later comparison and then being able to chart or determine what works best for similar storm events in the future. Using this information will help save time, material, fuel and reach your service levels sooner. Which keeps residents and customers happy.

The T.A.P.E.R Log:


In order to make any true cost of use or effectiveness comparisons, one must have accurate and complete data to work with. This is a major problem, as employees are busy trying to provide a service rather than fill out paperwork. This amplifies the need to make the data gathering process both simple and compatible with normal work operations rather than change operations to match data collecting and interfere with the real job.

With this in mind, you need to provide a form for employees to use that is quick and easy to use, and yet complete in the information provided. Additionally, this form had to be composed in such a manner as to allow for simple codes to identify level of service goals and existing conditions. This form and its codes when utilized provides for consistency in reporting, terminology, and definitions of common terminology. The result of all this is the following form called a T.A.P.E.R. log.

The name T.A.P.E.R. is an acronym for the elements of data collected on the form:

  1. Temperature
  2. Application Rate
  3. Product(s) Applied
  4. Event. Used to report weather information
  5. Results. Used to report the results of previous actions.

Another benefit of the TAPER system is to give employees clearly defined guidelines on when to start working a storm event, and more importantly, when to quit. Often it is left up to the individual to determine what to do to reach the defined level of service goal or what is acceptable in determining costs required while achieving it. This results in a wide range of opinions as to what to do, and associated costs for work conducted on a similar storm. It is intended that the use of this form in addition to collecting data will also eliminate theses differences. This will result in consistent winter operations work procedures and deicer application rates under like circumstances and has the potential to greatly reduce costs.


Event: Any weather occurrence that takes us from a mode of no action (slack time in terms of winter operations) to a mode of winter operations action required.

Event Duration: The length of time the event required winter operation actions of some kind.

Slack Time: That period of time where weather conditions do not require plowing, sanding, or other winter operations. Or, a time to accomplish other work tasks at hand.

Winter Operations: Work that is accomplished only during winter months, and is brought about solely by winter weather.

TAPER Log Elements Defined:

Start Date: The date in which crews are taken from slack status and mode of operation to

event status and mode of operation.

End Date: The date in which crews are taken from event status and mode of operation back into slack time status and mode of operation.

Note. The following Level Of Service (LOS) codes are for example only, and the actual

number of LOS goals and their definitions must match your operational needs.

Service Level or Road Condition Codes:

This code is used to describe the level of service goal for a particular area. These codes are also used as a way to describe current conditions at the time of the log entry, and as a winter operations quality standard that advises employees when no more time, money or effort is required or desired.

1: Bare Surface is the goal here, and work will normally consist of pretreatments and continue using a variety of methods to achieve or maintain this level of service.

2: Bare Tracks is the goal here. Chemical applications and all work is done with this level of service in mind. Typically no more than one inch of buildup is allowed outside of the wheel tracks. No time, money, or effort will be expended to upgrade from this level of service once achieved.

3: A plowed surface, ice or compact snow and ice with grit or sanding material on it is acceptable. No more than 2 inches of loose snow is desirable before plowing begins.

Chemical Applications Codes

Ta: Time of application: What time was the chemical application made? Or, in the case of no application being made, the time the entry is made on the log.

T: Temperature: Current temperature as noted at the time of the application or log entry. Note that the log asks for both Air and Pavement Surface

(Pave) temperature. Fill in both if at all possible. Surface temperature is most important, but either is better than nothing.

A: Application Rate. How much product was applied? Report in terms that are meaningful to you.

P: Product: What product is being applied? Know what you are using and write it down. This is important, as the product can change. Going from a dry solid deicer to a liquid or to a prewet solid is a good example. In this case report should include something like: 300 pounds of sold deicer applied with 8 gallons per ton of pre-wetting material. Could snow on report as 300+8, and Drivers/Workers would know what it means.

E: Event: What are the weather conditions observed at this time? This entry when compared with the previous entry provide a pictures of the changing or continuing weather. This provides information on what has happened in terms of moisture (i.e. snow fall) and temperature since the last time you were there.

  1. Results: What are the results or current conditions? This can be indicated with one of the service level/ surface condition codes as shown on the log.


This area is used to enter any beneficial comments. It is the intent that the use of this area when combined with other log data will allow for correct and accurate cost comparisons between LOS goals, products and different work methods. Thus, the ($) dollar signs serve as a reminder of the intended use of this area on the form. After the TAPER log has been used for a period of time it is now possible to put the data to use to further refine chemical applications and operational needs. This will result in a change from effective deicer applications to efficient applications and result in additional savings.

To accomplish this, pull from the TAPER log, the information from the different storm events that resulted in the desired LOS goals or results. Be sure that the total for chemical applications, the lowest temperature observed during a storm event, the total precipitation received during a storm event and plowing conducted is used for analysis. This information can then be put into an Application Rate Chart similar to the following. With experience and the data gather by use of the T.A.P.ER. Log, one can soon match chemical applications and work methods to a given storm event saving dollars and environmental impact while delivering required level of service goals.

Application Rate Chart

Separate T.A.P.E.R. logs and Application charts should be developed for different locations due to potential variances in surface conditions and weather patterns. This also provides better data when this log is utilized in multiple trucks and is filled out regularly. With the T.A.P.E.R. system, and some effort, winter deicer applications and work methods can be matched to a storm event based on your successful experiences. With this system, the application rates developed are for your deicer product(s), area, work methods, and are based on your experiences. For example, with this chart, if a storm were predicted to deliver 1 inch of snow at a low of 28 degrees Fahrenheit, an application of 45 GPLM (gallons per lane mile) would be made and combined with other normal work methods utilized to achieve success.

This is a lot of information to process. However, if you track the storms each season and do post storm reviews and comparisons, it won’t be long and you will be able to predict, what application rates and methods work best for predicted storm events.

There is no silver bullet in the snow and ice business. But you can get ahead of the curve with some data recording and effort after the events. The point is if your saving, time, material, fuel and man hours, it will prove to be well worth the effort invested and help your bottom line too !!!



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Time to look back.

Well here we are in the New Year, winter’s a little different this season, as compared to the past couple of years. Much milder in Michigan, that’s for sure.

Since I’ve had some time to set back, take a breath and think about where we have been and where we are headed in the snow and ice business. I was lucky enough to have forwarded to me by good friends, videos that compare The “Good Ole Days” to now.

So let me start with a little history lesson on salt and how it go it’s start in the United States.

  • Salt was found under Detroit in 1895
  • Development moved slowly until 1914, 8,000 tons a month mined
  • Used mostly to keep cinders and sand piles from freezing, until experiment in 1938 to deice roads.
  • 1941-1942, New Hampshire, 1st State to adopt a road salting policy. 5,000 tons used nationwide
  • After WWII, Salt use has grown to over 17,000,000 tons used in the US in the 2014/2015 season.

So, with that information, I thought it would be a good idea to see how we moved the snow and applied salt and aggregate.

First is a video from the Michigan State Highway Department (MDOT). It’s an oldie, but if you can get through the first few minutes (economic reasons to provide snow and ice removal) you’ll see some amazing footage of how it used to be done. I’m so glad I never had to ride in the back of a dump truck and shovel sand into a towed spreader. It was the “High Tech” equipment of the day.

Next is a video from my good friends at Truck & Trailer Specialties in Dutton, Michigan. This video has snow plowing in the 30’s – 40’s era and then shows modern day equipment.

I know this is entertaining, every now and then we need to take a minute to look back and shake our heads at how things were done way back when…. But we also need to look at what we are doing now! Have we always “done it that way”???

At Great Lakes Chloride, we offer Liquid Calcium Chloride products that can reduce chlorides in the environment, while increasing the level of service you provide your residents/customers during those winter storm events that are bound to get here soon.

Take a look at our website

Thanks for taking a look!



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Sidewalk Deicer, A Better Alternative.

Most of the de-icers we use on roads and sidewalks are simply salt—common, everyday Rock Salt. Sounds innocent enough, right? But when salt mixes with snow and melts into the soil, the salt begins its dirty work underground, preventing water and nutrient absorption by garden plants. Above ground, the results are brown lawns with bare spots, spring bulbs that are undernourished and may not flower, crabgrass, tired-looking rose bushes, scorched maple leaves, and pine trees with brown needle tips. Salt products also damage waterways when they wash away in the spring.

The dirt on salt? It’s out of sight, but not out of our soil—and it can damage the plants which grow in that soil! All that salt is on the move: kicked up as dust when dry, splashed out of puddles, plowed into snow banks, and melting into streams and rivers, city sewers…and our yards.

Homeowners add to salt’s assault on soil by de-icing steps, sidewalks, and driveways, then shoveling or snowblowing salt-filled snow directly onto plants and trees.

Unintended Consequences: Plants are 90 percent water, and they depend on water moving from the soil up to their roots and leaves. Excess salt stalls and prevents this movement, literally dehydrating the plants growing in that soil. Some common landscape plants are particularly susceptible to salt damage: Sugar maples and red maples, both beloved in residential areas, may show leaf scald. Pine trees, especially white pines, are highly salt-sensitive and are attacked externally by airborne salt all winter. Watch for needles’ telltale brown tips in spring. Rose bushes, Japanese maples, and spirea—prized by gardeners—don’t grow well as salt levels rise.

Lawn: Salt and other de-icers can burn or kill lawns, often leaving bare soil (but happy crabgrass).  Read manufacturer’s directions and consider the potential risks to your soil and plants when choosing which one to purchase. Here are some of your salt de-icing choices: Everyday table salt: Sodium chloride (NaCl), sold as “rock salt”, is the cheapest and most popular de-icer.

However, your best choice based the impact on soil and plants, and works below 15° F., is Calcium Chloride. CaCl2 can be purchased in many forms, Pellet or flake can be purchased at your local hardware store in bags. It can also be purchased in liquid form as well. Many Landscapers are now using it on sidewalks and parking lot’s, due to the unavailability and cost increases of rock salt, with the added benefit of greener lawns and plants next to those area’s in the spring and summer. Calcium Chloride is used in the Agricultural industry when making fertilizers for crops. So it just makes sense.

What’s a Gardener to Do? If you can, halt the salt! Limiting chemical de-icers to reduce icy patches that resist shoveling. The Road Agencies call this “Sensible Salting”, as with any deicing process, use only enough to melt the snow and ice. But, switching to Calcium Chloride for sidewalks and parking area’s will improve deicing performance as well as helping the growth of lawns and plants next to them.

One thing that comes to mind when talking about salt is that ancient Romans would Salt the fields of concurred nations to kill the crops and starve their enemies. So it just makes sense to reduce the salt, improve the melting/cold temperature performance of your deicer by switching to Calcium Chloride products. The plants will not only survive, but thrive!


So looking forward to the warmer weather !!!

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