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Salt......or sand/salt mix??

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by MLI, Dec 15, 2000.

  1. MLI

    MLI Member
    from Boston
    Messages: 53

    Hey guys ...we've just been getting into the
    sanding/ salting business. For the most part we
    just plow, but more and more folks want there lots
    treated for ice. My question is....how many of you
    just use salt on lots? Some of the lots have steep
    inclines, and im wondering if the salt will disolve
    in the middle of the night ,then refreeze. We have
    a tailgate spreader, and it recommends using only salt.
    I realize the sand/salt mix would be ideal, but im not
    sure this machine will handle damp sand...any thoughts?
  2. JCurtis

    JCurtis Banned
    Messages: 862

    tailgate huh?

    your spreader manufacturer recommends rock salt, use rock salt. the damp sand will just clog it up.

    You may wanna look into Magic-O salt if you can get it in your area. if not do a search hear on magic salt, and talk to either John Parker at Taconic maintenance (NY SNOW PROS) or Dino (Plowking35), both have the major exppertise with MAGIC.

    Another thing for you to consider... Sand requires cleanup in the spring... More sand requires more cleanup... alot of sand requires alot of cleanup in the spring...

    Think about it!
  3. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    I am a firm believer in sand/salt mix for reasons stated earlier thread.

    I think that others reluctance to use sand may be because of the quality of sand. When I have used lower grades of sand (red sand) it quickly turns to mud and washes away, using "white" sand (DOT specs) cost is $5/ton more but stays where you put it due to its larger aggregate size.

    I do a lot with a rather steep slope, and find that during a storm where it changes to rain the salt quickly washes away, using a sand mix will leave some traction aid even when the pavement refreezes. Cant be everywhere at once.

    As for the cleanup, you (or your subcontractor) will get paid for that operation also.
  4. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    I agree that there are times when straight salt are needed & when sand\salt or straight sand are needed. The problem is MLI doesn't presently have the equipment to properly spread sand. So the choices are to stick with straight salt (and put down heavier & monitor more in the bad locations mentioned) or upgrade the spreader to a 2 Stage tailgater to handle the sand also.
  5. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    If it refreezes overnight, you have to salt again. Then you have to charge the customer again. And that means generating another darn invoice. Then you have to open the danged envelope when the money comes in, again. On top of that, you gotta make another run to the bank to deposit the check... again.

    Yeah... use sand. Cuts down on all that work after the fact.
  6. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    MLI... I'm kidding.

    As for sand, some customers don't want sand. I've got a real problem in CT now with sub-contractors using sand on sites we maintain there. Got my butt chewed by my customer, and now we have to send out a letter telling our subs to honor the contract and stop with the sand.

    Sometimes depends on what the customer wants and dictates.

    Here in Erie, we use straight salt. Customers would cancel us quick if we put down sand anywhere.
  7. JCurtis

    JCurtis Banned
    Messages: 862

    Hey John, sounds like you need a new contractor in CT. Can't he read? If the job here in Ct is the one I think it is, I don't recall sand being spec'd maybe I am wrong, but wasn't Magic - O salt, calcium or some other chlorides spec'd out?

    May be talking to you for next year. been talking to John Parker and Norm Wood here in CT, and I am considering buying a spray unit for my truck, and doing magic applications and spraying other contractors bulk salt here in Fairfield county.

    Will let you know.
  8. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    We use a lot of sand up here in Maine.

    The only tailgate that will spread sand/salt is the western pro flow two.

  9. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Lots of people want sand here too,I tried straight salt,and it works great most of the time,but sometimes I need a mix,so i have a little mix pile and a little Magic Salt pile.
  10. MJ

    MJ Senior Member
    Messages: 129

    GeoffDiamond - didn't I read that they're using straight salt on I95 this year?

  11. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Thats what I thought however I see lots of DOT trucks with lots of sand, so you tell me. I know all the DOT shops near me have very large open piles of sand/salt mix. They have straight salt, however I think they only use it when the temperatures are high enough for it to be effective. They might be useing sand/salt during the storm, and salt after it is over? I am really not sure, but plan to find out.

    I watched the news on 3" color tv in the truck last nigh. I saw a Maine Turnpike truck, and a Maine DOT truck plowing, and they both were full of sand/salt mix. I was on 95 today and I must say it looks like it was treated with sand/salt.

  12. jaclawn

    jaclawn Member
    Messages: 92

    No contractors here, or for that matter government plowers use sand. My customers would have an absolute fit if all that sand was on their lot, and getting tracked everywhere.
  13. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    As a point of clarification, airflow makes a tailgate unit that will spread sand. In CT we have always used sand and trying to get people to change is hard in yankee land. WE did use some sand last week, but only on gravel lots.
  14. SLSNursery

    SLSNursery PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 140

    Talk to your customer, like John said. Find out if they want traction and visibility (i.e. they want to see the sand), or ice control, pre-treatment, etc. Its one thing to be smart and throw some sand to avoid a liability when you see a problem at 2am, its totally different to make a place look like a beach just to be able to charge more. I am also in Southern CT, and ditto Dino. It is difficult to change people's minds about not using sand, when they are accustomed to seeing it. However, a lot of our storms occur while temps are in the high 20s. This is a safe temperature for salt to do an effective job.

    A couple of years ago we had the local managers of a commercial account stop the truck which had just finished a straight salt application. The driver got chewed out for not putting sand down, even though the national account demanded NO SAND. No one in corporate told the local people what the contract said, and no one on the site communicated what the needs were before hand. 15 minutes later, the office got an A-OK to Sand that lot like crazy. Turns out that the building also houses a bunch of lawyers, in addition to our account. Now, we sand the place all of the time, and through the winter, sweep it when necessary to keep it clean.

    We also have a wholesale supply company, and stock Magic, right here in West Haven, CT. I haven't really wholesaled any out yet, because people are cautious, however, interest is rising in the pre-treatment and total ice control that Dino always brags about. Our trials have proven this to be true, and I'm sure as time goes by other contractors will switch to only using sand on those slopes or inclines.
  15. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    I don't use much mix anymore. Used to go with all mix material until two years ago when I started using an anti-ice salt application as soon as snwo was falling. The results from that were good enough to stick with it and expand salt usage. Last winter we had no freezing rain all winter and it was usually warm when it was snowing, so I got by with no sand at all. So far this year I've bought a little mix as we've had several small snowfalls that produced some pack on gravel areas. That pack went to ice when the sun hit it the next day and I've sanded those areas as required to get some traction. Right now there are 4 tons of mix on the dump truck, forecast was for freezing rain and I was concerned about the places with gravel. Forecast seems to have been wrong (again)as it is raining now and no eign of ice. If I don;t sue the sand I'll pile it and use it later as we need a little. Other than that I'll use Magic salt, or plain salt if I have to load out of the distributors stockpile. I figure that any time I can avoid sand I'm ahead of the game.
  16. Aspen Snow

    Aspen Snow Senior Member
    Messages: 148

    We use Magic Salt only! The magic work great. We had 1 1/2" of snow and ice. Our lot were wet and black. In places were we did not pretreat before the storm the ice bonded but we put the Magic Salt down and in 15 minutes it would peal right up. The stuff is amazing. Also I am not writing this because we sell it. I am just trying to tell everyone how well I think it works.
  17. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Ron, how many apps of magic were needed to combat the 1.5" of snow and ice. Dont tell me one, cause I know it had to have taken 2-3.
  18. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge Member
    Messages: 44

    I guess I'd say I was fortunate, in that I don't do any plowing in winter. But since last winter I've kept my eye on this section of this forum to learn what I can, because I know that eventually I'll want to make use of the trucks I have to make $$ in winter. But enough about that. I wanted to add something to this discussion, and haven't heard anybody mention this yet.

    There's a large trucking/excavating company here (30 trucks or so) that mix salt with limestone screenings (crushed stone 1/4" and smaller) and spread that on their lots. Seemed to give great traction for cars, you didn't track much into the stores. Maybe something for people to consider.