Ice Melters FAQs
If you have questions, we're here to help. Take a look below to find the answers to some frequently asked questions. If you don't find what you're looking for, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Ice Melters FAQs
The Marquette University Center for Highway and Traffic Engineering has documented that applying salt and plowing two-lane roads pays for itself within 25 minutes. Mixtures of salt, cinders or other abrasives were proven not to recover costs. Not only did these other abrasives not recover the costs of application there were additional costs to clean roadways and catch-basins each spring. Source: 1996 Marquette University study.
Salt is the most economical deicer. It is readily available—rock salt is the type most commonly used though solar salt or evaporated salt may also be used for deicing. Salt also works best when the temperature is near freezing. The watery brine formed by moisture and salt break up the snow and ice so that roads can be plowed. Municipalities may have to salt numerous times during large or extended snowstorms and salt gives the best results and value for the money spent.
There are a number of methods used to produce the salt. Morton Salt uses solar evaporation, rock salt mining and vacuum pan evaporation. Solar evaporation is the oldest method of salt production - used since salt crystals were first noticed in trapped pools of seawater. Its use is practical only in warm climates where the evaporation rate exceeds the precipitation rate, either annually or for extended periods, and ideally, where there are steady prevailing winds. Solar salt production is, typically, the capturing of salt water in shallow ponds where the sun evaporates most of the water. The concentrated brine precipitates the salt which is then gathered by mechanical harvesting machines. Any impurities that may be present in the brine are drained off and discarded prior to harvesting.
Morton also uses the second oldest method of producing salt - underground mining. Large machines travel through vast cave-like passageways performing various operations. Salt may appear in veins, as does coal. Veins are the original bedded salt deposits. Salt also may be found in domes, which were formed when Earth pressures forced salt up through cracks from depths as great as 30,000 or 40,000 feet. Domes resemble plugs of almost circular shape which are a few hundred yards to a mile across. Rock salt typically ranges between 95% and 99% NaCl, and mechanically evaporated salt and solar salt normally exceed 99% NaCl. Evaporated salt made with purified brine has the highest purity, in some cases 99.99% NaCl and is more costly than rock or solar salts.
Proper spreading of road salt, adequate covered storage for salt stockpiles and pre-wetting salt with salt brine have combined to make salting of roads the most cost-effective and safest method for snow and ice control.
Improved spreading equipment and proper calibration can ensure that only the minimum amount of salt is used for the job. Proper salting procedures and techniques are covered in "The Snow Fighter's Handbook" published by the Salt Institute. In addition, the Institute offers Sensible Salting training to public works agencies.
Adequate covered storage of salt stockpiles and placement on non-permeable pads are necessary to limit run off into the environment. Non-permeable covers are used to cover the Morton Salt network of stockpiles used for customer deliveries. Morton Salt also uses asphalt or concrete pads at the stockpiles.
A relatively new development in salting is the use of pre-wetting salt brine to moisten the salt at application. Studies have shown that pre-wetting salt reduces salt scatter on the roads by 15 to 30 percent. (Michigan DOT, "1974-5 Pre-wetted Salt Report', June 1, 1975). Pre-wetting with salt brine can reduce the chlorides released into the environment by 14-29 percent. (Asset Insight Technologies, LLC, "Review of Two Documents Pertaining to Chloride Reduction and Cost Savings Resulting from the Use of Pre-wetting in Winter Maintenance", Dr. Wilfrid A. Nixon, March 24, 2003.