Salt brines are an effective way to clear away snow and ice. In many cases, they're more effective than conventional rock salt alone. However, salt brines need to be applied properly for maximum effectiveness. This is where a road salt brine calculator comes in.
Getting your salt brine right can be as rewarding as it is challenging. With some expert insight, you'll be on your way to a proprietary mix that you can use with confidence.
Why Use Brine Over Rock Salt?
There are many brine salt advantages compared to regular road salt. We'll break down the highlights for you.
- Brines adhere more readily to the pavement and stick to it longer.
- Salt needs liquid to activate its snow and ice melting properties; the water in a way means your salt is ready to roll as soon as it's sprayed.
- Brines can be used to pre-treat surfaces before a winter storm.
- The operating temperature of a salt brine can be as much as 14F colder than a standard rock salt product.
Making a Salt Brine
Understand the Basics of Brines
The most basic principle of salt brine is this; you need salt and water. When mixed at the right proportions, you boost the snow and ice melting properties of salt and make it easier to apply to surfaces. Use a brine calculator to get the exact salt amount needed to cover a specific area.
While simple on the surface, it’s vital that you get the exact concentration of salt amount to water. It should have 23.3% concentration of salt in the brine, and without it, you lose effectiveness.
Review / Monitor weather forecast
Don’t apply anti-icing material if:
- The rain is predicted before the snow
- The snow is predicted within next 3 days
Apply anti-icing material if:
- The dew point at least 3 degrees below the air temp
- The pavement temp 15 °F or greater
- The relative humidity level 70% or less
- The pavement is dry
- Winds are less than 15mph if loose snow is presented
- Sufficient time exist for pavement to dry before pavement temps 20 °F
- A visual inspection or RWIS confirmed sufficient anti-icing material residue doesn’t exist on the pavement
Calculate Salt Brine Carefully
Let’s get into how to calculate salt brine. The most common brine proportions are 23.3% salt concentration to 76.7% water. However, you can also add to conventional sodium chloride and use either magnesium chloride or calcium chloride. Keep in mind that the concentrations of those chemicals are drastically different.
A calcium or magnesium chloride brine will increase the melting effect of your brine solution and while many use it as an additive, you can also create a diluted brine with it using a simple salt brine dilution calculator formula. The brine calculator ratio for this concoction is 90% water and 10% calcium or magnesium chloride.
The chart below displays the relationship between temperature and the salt amount, or concentration, present in salt brine.
Understanding Salt Brine Concentration
of Nacl Brine = 23.3%
At -6 Degree F
defines the amount of ice at any given temperature
represents the point below which salt will come out of solution
The following figure explains the effect of brine concentration and temperature on anti-icing operations.
Impact of Brine Concentration
on Anti-Icing Operations
Green is Good!
Peak ice is melting potential
Red is Bad
- Too diluted causing reduced ice melting ability!
- Dangerous and Icy with refreeze potential
Orange is Okay
- Over saturated with too much salt
- This is wasteful and does not help to melt more ice
From snow & ice following application
Evaporation, Over Application
By air following application
Over application of solids
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Use a Brine Maker
While some of us enjoy the rustic life and prefer to mix a brine by hand, others simply don't have the time or don't want to get too involved in the chemistry. Brine makers remove all of the guesswork from your brine creation. Typically, a brine maker features two reservoirs; a holding tank for rock salt and a finished tank for your brine.
After hooking up a source of water, a brine maker will use a powerful jet pump to dissolve your rock salt and give you an instant reading of your brine strength. Brine makers are the best way to make a lot of brine while ensuring a consistent result.
Don’t Forget about Brine Additives
Additives can be a great way to boost your brine. The most common additives are small amounts of either calcium chloride or magnesium chloride to enhance the brine's melting effect. Of these two chemicals, just 10-20% should be introduced. Reduce the amount of salt you use by that same proportion and keep the same amount of water.
Biodegradable dyes can be a great addition to your brine as well. A dye will give your brine better visibility, which allows you to track your application giving you more control and increasing your efficiency.
Lastly, organics like cheese whey byproducts and sugar beet juice can be added to a salt brine solution. You might even be surprised to know that these two rather strange materials are often referred to as “proprietary organics” in off-the-shelf brines. Believe it or not, both chemicals will increase the adhesion and longevity of brine as it sits on pavement. They are typically added at a 10% concentration, cutting into the percentage of salt and/or magnesium and calcium chloride.
Be Proud of Your Brine
Whether you're adding beet juice to your brine or sneaking in some calcium chloride to boost its melting ability, be proud of the proprietary brine you've created for your snow removal business. Let your clients know that they'll find nothing at all like it. You could even let them know the extent you went to formulate it. Above all, the more you know about what you're putting on your client's pavement, the more effective you'll be.
At Ninja De-Icer, we have years of experience making high-quality salt brines. Try our Headwaters HOT product, a high-performance brine for hard ice, or our Better Brine with 15% AMP or Better Brine Pro. Get a quote today!