How Rock Salt Works on Roads and why it’s a Danger

How Rock Salt Works on Roads and why it’s a DangerWhen winter comes and the snow falls along with the consequential temperature drops, most people will recognise the familiar sight of gritting lorries spreading rock salt on the roads. This is a process that has been carried out for years which effectively removes snow and ice because salt lowers its temperature causing the snow and ice to melt. While this keeps the roads clear and makes the roads safer for drivers, unfortunately it has a damaging effect on the environment and other things.


Damage to cars

It is well known that the corrosive nature of salt causes damage to cars. It not only attacks the paint surface of cars through rusting, it can also cause serious problems to the undercarriage of cars by corroding mechanical components that can lead to safety problems with your car. This is the reason why many motorists will jet wash their undercarriage on a regular basis and even pay for additional sealant protection.

Harmful to pets

The use of rock salt for roads can also be harmful to pets. After the roads are salted, there is often a residue and remnants of the rock salt or alternatively the snow has been pushed to the side of the road and still contains the rock salt in it. Your pet is at risk from the sodium chloride in the rock salt which normally accounts for over ninety percent of what rock salt is made of. The first problem normally encountered with pets and rock salt is the reaction on their paws. The rock salt can create a chemical burn, causing paws to become red and painful. The natural reaction for pets with irritated or painful paws is to lick them and this can lead to more serious problems such as vomiting and diarrhoea. In more serious cases, where larger amounts of rock salt are ingested, your pet can become disoriented, have seizures, and it can cause toxic poisoning which can result in death. To prevent your pet from being harmed by rock salt, it is important to keep them under control when walking at the height of spreading and to always wash their paws when returning from a walk.

Environmental problems

It doesn’t finish there however as rock salt also causes serious damage to the environment and water based eco systems. As the rock salt melts the resultant water becomes concentrated with sodium chloride. This contaminated water runs off into the drainage system, ditches and into the soil which means it can contaminate our water supplies and end up in streams and rivers, where it jeopardises plants, vegetation and aquatic life.

A change is needed

We have been using rock salt for many years in the UK to disperse snow and ice to make our roads safer to use in the winter months and some two million tonnes are spread on our roads every year. Environmental agencies have identified the problems associated with spreading rock salt and concern continues to be raised about the effect is has on the environment, pets and small animals.

There are increasing calls from many concerned organisations for a change in the way we treat our roads. Public opinion is also strengthening in favour of alternative methods. Let’s hope the changes are made soon for the sake of our environment, all animal life that is affected and our pets.

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