Winter can be hard. Rock salt helps make winter easier. Rock salt is a common deicer for melting ice on roads, walkways, and driveways. Given that it is cost effective, it is also a common tool for any snow removal company.
The problem is, when you need it most it might be unusable. Like most things below a freezing point, salt clump and freeze. Frozen rock salt can cause a real mess on roads and melting it first is necessary for proper use. Plus, it is also impossible to disperse effectively with a spreader or shovel. Here are tips and tricks to melt your rock salt, and steps to minimize the risk of freezing.
Frozen rock salt forms when there is moisture in the bag from condensation or if the salt was damp when it was bagged. If it’s in a warm place then a cold place then a warm place again, condensation will build up. This will make your rock salt freeze when the temperature drops.
The easiest way to prevent this is to make sure your rock salt is stored in a dry covered place. Sometimes winter can surprise us and you won’t need to use all your rock salt in one winter. With the shortage of rock salt in the coming years, it wouldn’t be wise to throw it away. But you don’t want to store it for the next winter only to find frozen rock salt. That’s a headache that can be avoided. Be proactive and store your rock salt in covered dry places.
Unfreezing frozen rock salt
If you find that your rock salt is frozen despite leaving it in a dry covered place, it’s not the end of the world. There are many different ways to unfreeze rock salt.
Drop the Frozen Rock Salt
The most common and easiest way is to drop the bag onto some concrete. Just like when you drop a bag of ice, rock salt will break up. However, this can come with problems. The bag could break and then you’d have to worry about moving the rock salt into some kind of different container. Also, if you’re a big company with hundreds of rock salt bags, this could get tedious. If by a pure stroke of bad luck, all your rock salt froze, the last thing you want to do is drop each one to the ground and then worry about a broken bag. In this case, there are some other options you could explore.
Use a Heated Space
Like most frozen things, rock salt will eventually thaw out. Consider moving it to a heated space and letting it thaw. If there is a lapse in a freeze during winter, put your rock salt in the garage for a couple days and it melts. Or if you don’t mind some condensation in your house or office, bring them inside where temperatures are better monitored. If you keep your road salt in a storage container, you can heat them inside there. Wherever your rock salt may be, turn up the heat and watch them thaw.
Another option, if you have the space, is to spread the bags of salt one layer thick and then cover with a black tarp. Assuming it is a slightly warmed day, the tarp will capture some of the heat generated by the sun and warm the bags.
Use a Dirt Crusher
Some people get so frustrated with their frozen rock salt they resort to extreme measures. Running it over with your truck is a sure way to break the bag and cause a mess. A better option is to use a dirt crusher. Just like dirt and other minerals, the rock salt will get crushed up and be ice free.
Rock salt and other deicers are crucial to winter safety. Keeping your rock salt in a temperature monitored place will help it stay ready to use. If you do find your rock salt frozen, these options are a great way to make sure your rock salt is still usable.
Use A Different Ice Melt Product
Sodium Chloride is damaging to the environment, and it isn’t the salt itself that freezes, but the moisture in the bag. To avoid that, you could consider switching to a different ice melter.
A solution we recommend is the use of brine. Despite being a water and salt solution, it has a much lower freezing point, allowing it to remain liquid even during winter storms. It’s better for the environment and easier to distribute than rock salt.