Why Should You Add Liquids to Your Winter Operations Arsenal?

A good friend of mine, Mark Lester w/Truck & Trailer Specialties in Dutton, MI., had posted this question on his Blog. I thought it was worth repeating. He makes a very good point.

Why should you add liquids to your snow & ice control operation when you have salt in a granular form and it works?  I have to be honest with you, this is a “trick question”.  Everyone engaged in snow & ice control utilizes liquids…………..don’t believe me?  Call your old high school chemistry teacher and ask them to explain the process of melting snow with sodium chloride (rock salt).  Or I will be happy to explain, granular salt is ineffective in melting snow or ice.  The granular salt must attract water and transition to a liquid state (brine) before it becomes effective.  There are a couple of methods to speed up the melting process:  A.)  apply in a very concentrated application (apply in band rather than broadcast).  Try it for yourself on your own sidewalk this winter, throw out a handful of salt like you are feeding chickens in one area and then pour the entire handful in a concentrated application.  Compare the results after about twenty minutes.  In a highway application, you would apply the concentrated band of salt on the crown of the road or high side of ramp and allow gravity and traffic to assist in the effectiveness of the salt brine.   B.)  the other method is to apply a liquid chloride from the “get-go” or prewet the granular salt.  You will notice an almost instant response and you’ll discover you can use less granular and obtain better results.   If you really want “more bang for the buck”, apply prewetted granular salt in a concentrated pattern.  If you prewet with calcium or magnesium chloride, you can lower the melting temperature giving yourself the ability to apply salt and have it be effective at a much lower temperature.  Now you are a hero to the motoring public and ultimately with the police agencies and politicians.  How’s that for job security?  Have a anti-corrosive additive included with your liquid chloride purchase and reduce equipment rust & corrosion damage, liquid product pump lock-ups, etc. and now you are a hero with your fleet maintenance folks.  So, the answer to the original question is:  We are using liquids.  The next question:  why are you not expanding your liquid use?  The legitimate answer might be:  our budget will not allow us to purchase the application and storage systems for the liquids at this time.  There are many different options and you should contact us: http://www.ttspec.com/. We can help with all of your liquid application questions.


About Dave Budd

Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, Great Lakes Chloride, Inc. Serving Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. Retired Michigan DOT, October 2010 after 32 years experience in Maintenance/Operations. Specializing in winter operations and liquid de-icers and anti-icers.
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1 Response to Why Should You Add Liquids to Your Winter Operations Arsenal?

  1. Mark Lester says:

    Thanks for sharing my comments. Seems like there are two areas of “contention, if you will” in snow & ice control operations. One seems to be adding liquids to your “snow fighting arsenal” and in what context, i.e. prewet, anti-ice, etc. and the other is in the addition and use of wing plows. WIng plows have become a standard spec. item in most fleets but there are still a few hold-outs. Adding liquids and wing plows to your winter snowfighting “tool kit” will: a.) increase your efficiency by increasing your productivity, b.) provide a better service and end result to your customer, c.) your customers will notice the results quicker d.) and ultimately you have satisfied cusomers which means you have a happy board or council. The “icing on the cake” is you can have an increased level of service and productivity with decreased manhours. It would be great if we could create a message board or discussion group so those that are using these techniques successfully could share their processes and successes with everyone.

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