How to Use Salt Brine for Parking Lots and Roads

Liquid de-icer is an essential tool in your snow management arsenal, especially if you own a snow removal business. Yet, “liquid de-icer” is just a moniker—it can mean anything. One such example of a liquid de-icer is salt brine.

While you may imagine a fancy conglomeration of chemicals when you think of liquid de-icer, it can also take the simple form of rock salt dissolved in water, which is exactly what a salt brine is. There are many reasons to take your crystallized rock salt and mix it into an sprayable liquid—this kind of transformation fundamentally changes the way the rock salt affects the ice

When & Why to Use Salt Brine on Parking Lots

Salt brine is an effective proactive tool in combating a winter storm. While rock salt can encompass various types of salt like sodium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride, it’s typically applied to surfaces immediately preceding (or just before) a storm, a salt brine solution is most effective when applied to a dry surface between 24-48 hours before a storm is to arrive.

When applied correctly, salt brine can effectively lower the freeze point of surfaces by as much as 18F. Getting ahead of winter weather allows you to plan, giving you more time in-the-moment should the storm get worse, giving your salt trucks plenty of leeway in the process.

Salt Brine Concentrations & Effective Temperatures

It is suggested that you use a 23.3% concentration of salt in water (23.3% salt to 76.7% water). This simple salt and water solution, when mixed at this ratio, will go a long way toward keeping ice from forming on asphault surfaces. While increasing the concentration of salt will not affect its effectiveness, you can change the amount of salt you apply to a surface per mile.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has a great paper on salt brine and its effectiveness on varying surfaces as well as the suggested concentration (gallons per mile) for each of those surfaces dependent on the weather conditions. The paper goes on to explain that the overall effective temperature of pure sodium chloride and water brine is 20F and above.

Salt Brine Calculator (Make Your Own Brine)

A calculator being used to help determine salt brine concentration.

We also found a handy salt brine calculator that a fellow plow operator made and shared with the plowing community. To get the calculator to work, open it using Google Sheets, choose “File”, and select “Make a Copy”. The spreadsheet will dynamically change depending on how many gallons of brine you type in giving you the perfect ratio of salt and water.

The calculator uses the same 23.3% ratio that is the industry standard for mixing an effect brine for snow and ice melting. The reason this calculator works so well is due to the simple formula of the brine—it’s two ingredients. However, did you know that you can introduce additives to your brine solution? Doing so will give you different attributes entirely.

Salt Brine Additives

One of the best products we sell is “Better Brine with AMP!”. It also serves as a perfect example of a salt brine solution that is rendered more effective through the use of an additive. The manufacturer reports a solution of water, magnesium chloride (23.3%), as well as a “proprietary corrosion inhibitor blend”. This mixture reduces the brine’s effective temperature, makes the brine more effective after a storm as well as before, and allows the brine to adhere to surfaces for longer.

Salt brines supplemented with additives can benefit from an effective temperature as low as 11F and reduced corrosive qualities, both of which make these products useful upgrades from your typical brine solution.

Salt Brine Application Rates

The applications of salt brine depend on the surface it’s being applied to, that surface’s moisture level, and the current weather. However, one universal rule is true: salt brine is ineffective against black ice, so ensure that you apply a brine solution before the formation of said ice in the parking lot. Let’s break down the typical surfaces seen in snow and ice removal and what the average application rate for that surface is.

Dry Pavement with Light Snow

Above 32F to 30F: Plow and apply at a rate of 40 gallons per mile.

30F to 27F: Plow and apply at a rate of 50 gallons per mile.

27F to 24F: Plow and apply at a rate of 60 gallons per mile.

24F to Below Freezing: Do not apply; plow and monitor.

Wet Pavement with Medium Snow

Above 32F to 30F: Plow andapply at a rate of 50 gallons per mile.

30F to 27F: Plow and apply at a rate of 70 gallons per mile.

27F to 24F: Plow and apply at a rate of 90 gallons per mile.

24F to 21: Plow and apply at a rate of 110 gallons per mile.

21F to Below Freezing: Do not apply; plow and monitor.

Freezing Rain

Above 32F: Plow and apply at a rate of 40 gallons per mile.

32F to 30F: Plow and apply at a rate of 60 gallons per mile.

30F to 27F: Plow and apply at a rate of 70 gallons per mile.

27F to 24F: Plow and apply at a rate of 80 gallons per mile.

24F to 20: Plow and apply at a rate of 110 gallons per mile.

21F to Below Freezing: Plow and apply at a rate of 150 gallons per mile.

Salt Brine Makes Good Sense

At the end of the day, salt brine is an essential part of professional snow and ice removal. It’s simply more effective and more versatile than rock salt on its own. Moreover, brine products with additives can boost a brine’s effectiveness even further. Whether you mix your own brine or buy a product over-the-counter, we recommend you fit it into your snow and ice removal strategy as soon as you can.

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AG Excavating, Inc
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