Using Rock Salt to Remove Ice from Roads
When a winter storm hits there is a strong chance roads and pavements will ice over, making them slippery and dangerous to drive and walk on. While local authorities will often remove ice from major roads they will not clean pavements which means you may have to do it. Breaking out the old snow shovel will help, but using a de-icer such as rock salt after shovelling will keep snow from turning into ice, and will eventually remove the ice altogether. There are a variety of de-icers on the market but using a brand of the best rock salt will be the most effective.
What is Rock Salt?
Halite, which is commonly referred to as rock salt, is a brittle, isotropic sediment that can be found in evaporated piles left in lake beds, playas, seas, and oceans. It forms cubic crystals that can be broken up and refined for numerous purposes, though one of the most common is for its use as a de-icing agent. Rock salt is relatively inexpensive, abundant, and mostly for these reasons is used extensively by local authorities to de-ice the roads.
How Does Rock Salt Work?
When rock salt is placed in snow, or on top of ice, it will naturally form a bond and become brine, a mixture of water and salt. Brine has a lower freezing point than water, meaning the mixture will melt and remain unfrozen, an effect called freezing point depression, unless the temperature drops significantly. For the most efficient results, clear a path in the snow or ice before placing rock salt down, and then wait about ten to twenty minutes. Even if it is below freezing outside the ice will melt! Assuming snow or rain continues to fall, rock salt should be used on a regular basis as required to keep the path clear.
Laying Rock Salt Down
The most efficient method for laying the rock salt down on pavements is to sweep or shovel a path. It is best, and usually easiest, to use a snow shovel or hand operated rock salt spreader, although other shovels and push brooms will get the job done. Be careful not to compact the ice or snow too much as you shovel. Afterward, take a bucket and fill it up with the amount you think you will need from your bag of rock salt. When you are ready, simply shake the rock salt slowly and let it sprinkle out of the bucket and onto the cleared path. The rock salt placement does not have to be very dense for it to take effect. The concept is similar for use on a private road or path. If you do not own a commercial spreader simply load the rock salt into a rubbish bin and slowly pour it onto the road from the back of a van or boot of a car.
Always read the instructions supplied with you rock salt product and consider recycling the packaging on disposal.