Storing bulk salt is an often overlooked component of the business of snow removal, and there are special precautions to take before you make the investment. Road salt does not “go bad” necessarily, but it can lose its efficacy if exposed to moisture. This is why it is important to learn how to store bulk salt properly.
What Is Road Salt?
Before learning how to store salt, let’s talk about what road salt is exactly. Like table salt, road salt is a combination of Sodium and Chlorine, but it is unpurified. This means it comes in larger granules that aren’t suitable for cooking.
Why Is It Essential to Store Road Salt Correctly
Salt storage plays a huge role in protecting the health of our freshwater. Improper storage of road salt can lead to the contamination of soils, lakes, streams, and our drinking water. One teaspoon of salt pollutes five gallons of water to levels that are toxic to native freshwater species. The larger the quantity of salt, the higher the potential for pollution.
When salt supplies are exposed to the elements because the owner did not know how to store rock salt and did not store road salt securely, salt piles are subject to erosion and loss from both wind and precipitation that transport salt into lakes, streams, and drinking water. Snow and rain can cause additional losses through clumping and material degradation.
Salt storage may involve unloading a pile of salt in a parking lot and securing a tarp over it. However, providing only minimal safeguards against the elements can lead to high legal costs if the salt owner is held liable for the pollution of freshwater resources. To avoid legal costs, maintain clean drinking water, and preserve freshwater ecosystems, storing bulk salt correctly is a must.
Best Bulk Salt Storage Ideas
So how is road salt stored correctly to avoid loss of deicing properties? To ensure proper bulk salt storage, follow these tips.
Store Your Rock Salt Somewhere within Reach
There is no use in having a sturdy shelter for your supply of rock salt if it’s not within easy reach any time you need it. And if you’ve been in the snow removal game long enough, you know that certain storms can come hard and fast. So fast, in fact, that a few miles may be the difference between a productive night of snow removal that will make your clients happy, and a disastrous night with minimal progress.
With that said, you’re going to want to ensure your salt placement is strategic. If you can store it in a structure on-site at each client’s location, then that’s your best bet. And keeping some at your home base is ideal so that you can load it into your truck and be ready to go at a moment’s notice. If for some reason, your home and your client’s property will not accommodate any salt reserves, or accommodate too little, then think of triangulating your clients and your home on a map and finding a central location that you can store your salt at so you’re never too far from it when you need some.
Invest In Bulk Salt Storage that Is Weatherproof
The worst thing you can do is invest in road salt as well as a storage area for your salt, only to realize that your supply has been ruined due to the weather. It may be true that salt is a hardy substance and you're literally going to throw it on the ground but a little TLC goes a long way toward keeping your salt in good shape until you're ready to use it. You'll want to ensure that your salt is stored somewhere out of the rain and snow where it can remain dry.
Many professional snow removers use “instant garage” pop-up shelters that are easily erected and act as simple storage sheds. When using a tarp or waterproof fabric, weight should be applied to surround the base to ensure the wind does not remove the cover. A cheaper alternative is to corral your salt with cinder blocks and secure a large tarp on top to keep out moisture.
Ensure Temperature and Humidity Control
When looking at how to store bulk road salt the key is the right climate. Salt can easily absorb moisture, which can result in short shelf life and can also make the salt unusable if it hardens into brick.
This is why the best way to store road salt is a climate-controlled space. Storing rock salt in cool, dry atmospheres will help it last significantly longer. Reduce humidity as much as possible.
Avoid Clumping and Hardening
Because salt is so absorbent in moist, warm conditions, its molecular combination is easily altered. This reaction is exactly what happens when bulk salt clumps and hardens.
One of the best bulk salt storage ideas to avoid clumping and hardening is an airtight container. This is especially critical when storing opened bagged salt. Adding a piece of charcoal to the bag can also help in this situation.
Make Sure You Are Not Breaking the Law
No matter how you decide to store your salt, ensure that what you’re doing isn’t breaking any laws. For instance, some counties have ordinances prohibiting the storage of rock salt in situations where the salt is in constant contact with exposed ground. You’ll want to do your research and choose a storage solution that works for you and is ultimately a legal and safe method of storage. Above all else, keeping your salt dry is your biggest concern with regard to storing bulk salt.
Make Sure You Can Easily Transport It
If your snow removal business is big enough that you require a dedicated storage solution for your rock salt reserves, then you’re more than likely going to want to buy your salt in large quantities, and thus you’ll find yourself with a lot to store at once.
Rock salt is incredibly heavy, especially in bulk. Ensure that, wherever your salt is stored, you can easily transport it to your snow removal sites. That may mean loading it into the back of your truck or investing in a salt spreader. Either way, make sure you have the ability to get it where it needs to go.
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Things to Consider When Choosing a Place Where to Store Rock Salt
- Zoning: As always, get familiar with the property’s zoning codes — what is and is not permitted on the grounds. You want to avoid getting mixed up in any legal troubles.
- Location: Dedicated salt storage sites should be in locations that minimize the risk to key water resources. All the salt that we apply on the ground eventually ends up in our water, but extra provisions are made to protect drinking water sources.
- Foundation: Place an impermeable foundation, known as a pad, sloped outward to divert water away from the salt pile. Typically, an asphalt-like material is used to minimize cracks. If using concrete, make sure that it is properly treated and sealed.
- Space: To ensure you have enough salt storage, determine how much space you will need based on how much product you need to store at one time. Reach out to our team of experts for help with these calculations.
- Accessibility: When calculating the space you need, bear in mind that trucks and loaders will need easy access. This means that you’ll need an open space wide enough for a truck to move freely to load and unload your salt.
- Drainage: Pads must be sloped inward to prevent salt runoff. Otherwise, salt will run over and contaminate any freshwater lakes or streams nearby.
- Lighting: The best way to store rock salt is in darker spaces. Place lights slightly to the side and higher up to avoid them affecting the salt in any way.
Don't Forget that Needing Bulk Salt Storage Is a Sign of Success
It may feel overwhelming to get caught up in the details of your business. Surely you remember a simpler time when you didn't have to worry about so many intricate components. But that's because you didn't have the clients that you do now. At the end of the day, the need to store bulk salt is a great thing — it means business is booming and you're doing something right.
But part of running a successful business is in crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s. And storing bulk salt is an important component of keeping your clients happy. As long as your bulk salt storage solution is central, weatherproof, safe, and easily transported then you'll rest easy knowing you'll be one of the first fleets out before the next big storm.
To learn more about our bulk salt options, contact Ninja De-Icer and get a quote today!