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Salt Management: The Best Winter Practices

Salt Management: The Best Winter Practices

Justin Rollin

With strong winters in cities like Minneapolis and Chicago, snow removal companies and municipalities must know how best to organize and manage ice-melting salt. The Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) has set best practices guidelines for managing salt sustainably and effectively can be summarized into three categories; these categories are purchasing, storing and transport, and operations.

The following steps will guide you in how best to optimize your use of de-icing salt, saving time and money.

Phase 1: Purchasing Inventory 

Before beginning your salt purchase, it’s crucial to understand the amount and type of inventory necessary.

Firstly, the necessary inventory can be predicted based on the total estimated square acreage/footage of the areas being serviced, averaged with at least five years worth of available weather and salt use history.

Next, contact multiple salt suppliers to set up purchasing agreements. This will allow you to optimize and maintain control of both quality and quantity, lowering the potential risk of fluctuations in cost and inventory availability.

Also, be sure to only stock high-quality and effective products and keep in mind the area and market being catered to. For example, in areas where the temperature doesn’t often fall below 10º Fahrenheit, having a greater supply of sodium chloride would be prudent. On the other hand, calcium chloride will be more in demand in areas where temperatures are often below 5º Fahrenheit.

Ordering in advance will allow you to save time and get the best price on inventory. It is recommended to purchase at least 50-75% of the required de-icing material by the end of the summer, as you can get a fantastic deal by buying your salt up front early in the season. Most deicing supply companies offer some sort of early bird discount.

Phase 2: Storage and Transport  

To avoid ruining the product and wasting time and money, properly storing salt is essential. At a minimum, you should be storing about five snow/ice events worth of salt for a season. There will be local, state, or provincial-specific regulations and requirements for salt storage in your area, so do thorough research on these guidelines before storing any of your salt.

Arguably the most important rule of salt storage is keeping the salt as dry as possible, and there are a few ways to go about ensuring this.

Firstly, do your best to always store salt on surfaces like concrete or blacktop, rather than directly on the ground, as this will help limit the amount of moisture getting to the salt. Additionally, store it on “high ground,” meaning in a place where runoff is less likely to reach it. Furthermore, it is critical that you keep the salt completely covered with a heavy-duty tarp to ensure that snow or rain does not fall on it.

With regards to transport, salt must be transported via highways. It’s also necessary to keep salt covered during transport. A heavy-duty tarp should be securely covering any salt during truck transport, and employees should be trained in how to do so properly.

Be sure to monitor and track your inventory weekly for storage issues and general quality control, especially after storms. Also, it’s imperative that you have secondary storage measures ready in case of an emergency.

Phase 3: Operations

salt for deicing

The next step is knowing how to best utilize rock salt for de-icing and how to run operations.

General:

  • Make sure all employees are trained in handling equipment, company policies, and general ice management.
  • Before applying salt, be sure to check if the area being treated has been designated as salt-sensitive by local, state, or federal laws.
  • Clear snow, using plows or similar equipment, before applying de-icers to avoid wasting material on fresh snow. Make sure not to dump cleared snow into bodies of water including, but not limited to, lakes, streams, rivers, etc.
  • Know when it’s best to blend or pretreat to help optimize your salt use.
  • Pay special attention to, and potentially spot treat, known or anticipated problem areas.
  • To ensure efficient and effective salt use in future seasons, establish an ice watch to better monitor the process and use of the salt.

Calibration:

  • Keep sprayer/spreader application rates consistent and never use more salt than is indicated by previous weather data like temperatures and moisture levels.
  • When calibrating, be sure to take flow settings, ground and spinner speeds, and material into account.
  • Equipment should be calibrated in the preseason, midseason, and after any repairs are made.

Documentation:

  • Be sure to always maintain sufficient documentation of salt output estimates and actual numbers to later determine material waste. This should include application rates, equipment settings, inventory, and minimum and maximum outputs for specific areas.
  • Technology can make the tracking and reporting processes more efficient, as well as help with service documentation and tracking application rates.

Consider Liquid Alternatives 

There are a few alternatives to rock salt for de-icing, one of which is a liquid de-icer. Of the de-icing salt alternatives, the liquid is a very effective method that is often overlooked due to a fear of not knowing how to use it properly which could lead to potential slips and falls. However, using a salt brine solution for de-icing is often faster, bonds to the pavement better, and lasts longer than salt.

Conclusion

Now that you know the best practices for how to purchase it cost-effectively, how to store and transport it securely, and how to utilize it safely and efficiently, it’s time to buy your bulk supply of salt for de-icing. Ninja De-Icer offers a wide range of salts for any and all applications. Check out our catalog or contact us directly to hear more about our top-notch de-icing products!

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