What is salt brine made of? Mainly sodium chloride and water, which makes it an effective snow and ice management solution for parking lots and roads. Its freezing point is lower than pure water, which reduces the adhesion of snow and ice to road surfaces and pavement. Most businesses purchase brine in bulk, but if reducing costs is needed, it’s possible to produce your own. Here’s how to make salt brine for commercial snow removal.
What Is Salt Brine?
Salt brine solution isn't only salt; it's a combination of salt and water that's designed to be sprayed on pavement such as walkways, parking lots, and roads as it helps to melt ice and keep the surface safe.
You might be wondering what is in salt brine and how to make your own salt brine for ice melting. If you are hoping to make your brine, it's important to find the right balance between water and sodium chloride as there needs to be a chemical reaction between the two. There are many companies that also use magnesium chloride and calcium chloride as additives to make salt brine that much more effective at melting ice and snow. Liquid brine solution and liquid de-icer have a lower freezing temperature compared with water due to the salt component, making it ideal to use an anti-icing component.
Things to Consider While Making Salt Brine for Melting Snow
Before learning how to make salt brine, you need to consider your business needs, capabilities, and health hazards that DIY production may bring. The scale of your deicing requirements will ultimately affect logistics and narrow down options.
Choose the Right Brine Maker
Contrary to what people think, making salt brine involves more than mixing salt with water. During winter months, heavy snow removal can be a continuous process, requiring a significant amount of liquid brine, which is why most municipalities and businesses going the DIY route invest in an automated brine maker.
Always research products and obtain a thorough understanding of your company’s water production capability before purchasing a brine maker. It’s pointless buying high-output equipment if you can’t supply the maker with sufficient gallons per minute.
Brine makers with remote capabilities are conveniently operable from mobile devices, laptops, and tablets. Those made from fiberglass tend to offer the best longevity against salt’s corrosive effects. If you have the capability, opt for a powerful pump that can produce thousands of gallons per hour, decreasing manual labor.
Consider Facility Capabilities
Even with the right water system capabilities, making salt brine for melting snow requires storage and loading space. To give you an idea, some commercial tanks can be as big as 30 ft³. In addition to storage space, you'll also need to consider that all automated brine makers require pumps, so where and how these will be placed requires some planning.
Moreover, brine makers also have to be periodically cleaned. This may be as simple as opening a valve and pressing a button, entailing disconnecting components and tipping the tank over, or even getting into the tank and shoveling the build-up out. Each system is different, so be certain you know exactly what the cleaning requirements are.
If you don’t have the right infrastructure, it might not be worthwhile investing in a maker. Commercial salt brine manufacturing requires careful logistics planning to make a good ROI. Not having enough space for storage or traffic can compromise your efforts.
Avoid Contact with Skin
To avoid salt burn, you should always wear protective gear such as goggles, rubber gloves, rubber boots, and a hard hat when handling salt brine. It sounds extreme, but direct skin contact is hazardous and may lead to dermatitis, rashes, inflammation, bacterial infection, and blistering.
Salt brine can also irritate eyes, while accidental ingestion may lead to vomiting or diarrhea, causing stomach problems and kidney damage that require immediate medical attention. Any pets that walk on sidewalks may experience salt burn on their pads, and if they ingest snow or ice with salt brine, it can be fatal.
For this reason, it’s always advisable to put up warning signs if your business is near a public area and encourage employees to adhere to standard safety protocols. Salt brine, especially with chemicals and additives, can also be harmful to building structures and materials, including concrete, pavements, and tarmacs, so it’s important to follow the correct salt brine recipe for roads and parking lots.
How to Make Salt Brine for Deicing
Perhaps your business doesn’t require the mass production of salt brine, in which case you can produce your own. There are many recipe variations, depending on your needs. Most homemade solutions can be stored in bottles and sprayed on ice as needed. Typically, salt brine should be applied before it snows.
Follow these simple steps to make a salt brine solution for deicing:
Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients
Regardless of the quantity, you’ll need water and rock salt in an approximate ratio of 4-to-1. It’s always advisable to use water because it increases the solubility of the salt, causing it to dissolve at a quicker rate. You'll also want to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.
Step 2: Mix Salt and Water
Mix the salt and hot water in a brine maker to ensure all the salt dissolves. Once your mixture is dissolved, test the solidity using a hydrometer to ensure it is at the consistency of 23.3% (salt to water ratio). In addition, to increase deicing potency, you can add calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, and calcium magnesium acetate. If needed, you can use a salt brine calculator to determine the right ratio for your deicing solution.
Step 3: Prepare the Surface
Pre-wet the pavement to prevent ice from bonding to the surface then spread the solution on the ice, which will slowly break into fragments and dissolve. Salt brine is most effective before or after snow removal, so you may need to remove the loose snow first.
How to Apply the Salt Brine Solution to the Concrete
Once you've mixed the solution successfully, you'll now need to proactively apply the ice melt solution to prevent ice from forming in the first place. There are multiple ways that you can do this. One, you can apply the solution directly on top of the surface of the road or sidewalk as a pre-wetting to prevent low temperatures from causing ice formation. To make the ice melt, you'll need to apply the liquid solution directly onto the ice that's forming a bond on the road.
Even when used in small amounts, the liquid solution works as a powerful deicing agent that breaks the ice into small pieces. As the ice melts, you'll be able to break the sheets of ice into small pieces and remove them from your property. Of course, you'll need to pour enough brine solution directly onto the ice on the ground to make it go away. The denser the bond, the more solution you'll need to use to remove it.
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Challenges of Creating Your Own Salt Brine
Although it seems like a simple process, creating your salt brine solution is more difficult than you may think. There's more to it than adding salt and water to a bucket. We've outlined some common challenges below.
There are many different brine makers and it is important to know how much water you can obtain in terms of gallons per minute. It won't be beneficial to have a model with high output if you don't have the ability to feed that much water into it. Having a good understanding of your current situation can help you determine the type of brine maker to purchase and whether it's worth it to increase the flow. You'll want to invest in a system that works for your particular facility's capabilities.
Facilities and Pumps
In addition to knowing the limits of your water system, you'll want to be aware of how the brine ingredients will be delivered and stored. You'll also want to understand how the finished products will be loaded. Although logistics might not seem important, a lack of logistics can cancel out the efficiencies that stem from making your brine.
You'll also want to think about where the pumps are located and that they have the right ratings and seals.
Brine Maker Clean Out
Another factor is what it will take to clean the system as you'll need to do so regularly. The cleaner you keep the brine maker and the better you're able to remove insoluble materials, the more productive it will be. Even a process as simple as opening a valve and pushing a button is possible compared with other models that require additional steps.
Opt for Ready-to-Use Salt Brine from Ninja Deicer
Learning how to make salt brine for roads is easy, but for some, the effort required to make large amounts of salt brine isn’t worth the money saved. At Ninja De-Icer, we have several options of reasonably priced salt brine and liquid deicers for snow removal, such as Better Brine Pro, Better Brine with 15% AMP and Headwaters HOT, designed to tackle any snowstorm and keep businesses open when the temperatures drop. Why not take a look at our ready-to-use liquid products that are suitable for roads and pavement? Get a quote today!