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Winter Liquids

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by Winterologist, Dec 6, 2009.

  1. Winterologist

    Winterologist Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    What is a "winter liquid"? It is a liquid that aids in snow and ice control by either preventing the bond of hard-pack to the pavement (thereby making plowing a lot easier) or prewetting road salt to: 1) activate salt quicker, 2) make salt work at lower temperatures, 3) cut down salt's "bounce & scatter" which allows you to use less salt and still do a good job, 4) in some cases - de-lump salt, 5) allows you to be a little more environmentally (depending on what you spike the salt with), and in the case of some "organics" add a "residual-effect". Almost all winter liquids involve "chloride technology". Rock salt is mostly sodium chloride and will likely NEVER be replaced due to it's abundance, relative lower cost and overall effectiveness. Natural brine well contain a conglomerate of all the natural occurring chlorides - mostly calcium or magnesium as the predominate chloride, followed by usually much smaller amounts of sodium and potassium. Being rich in calcium and mag chlorides makes them "hotter brines" - they work at far lower temps than rock salt which is why there is an increase, in recent years, in there use.

    FACT: A pound of salt @ 30F will melt 46 pounds of ice in 5 minutes. That same pound of salt @ 15F only melts 6 pounds of ice in one hour! If an event comes in as rain or freezing rain - "rock salt is king"; if it's sleet, snow, freezing fog, or black ice, winter liquids should be another tool to consider. More and more people are catching on to this tidbit of science, which is why winter liquids are on the increase. Spiking road salt or salt brine with things like calcium or mag chloride brines allows the entire mass to work at lower temps.

    Remember, however, that each chemical has its own characteristics. Calcium chloride works at the lowest temp followed by it chemical-cousin magnesium chloride. The brine wells that these chemicals come from vary in concentration across the Country, as well as the calcium-to-mag ratio. Some areas of the Country say they are using Calcium Chloride while others are using Magnesium Chloride. Whatever the predominate chloride is in there part of the Country - that's what they use. Call it Mother Nature. The differences between the two chlorides is real, but slight. Both behave in similar fashion. Both are liquids in there natural state and are always trying to return to a liquid condition. Why? Both are hygroscopic, they suck moisture out of the air which is why they've been used for Summer dust control for almost 100 years. On pavement, however, this trait can present concerns as the film continues to absorb moisture creating a slippery situation. This has nothing to do with over-application, which is a problem no matter what deicers are used. Other traits of calcium and mag chlorides include increased corrosion (especially on lighter metal like aluminum), and deleterious effects on concrete. Many proprietary formulations have been developed in recent years. "Organics" are added to mostly mag or calcium brine as corrosion inhibitors. The addition of token amounts of organics doesn't alter chemical traits of the predominate chloride brine very much.

    There are a few other non-chloride deicers in use today that are worth mentioning. Calcium Mag Acetate (CMA), Potassium Acetate, Sodium Formate, etc. These are considerably more expensive to use and typically not as effective at the lower temp ranges. Still they are targeted at more specific applications such as CMA on bridge-decks, and potassium acetate or sodium formate on runways and aircraft deicing (the chloride ion aggessively attacks aluminum and is not allowed by the FAA). Recent studies from Michigan Tech have, however, raised some concerns about these chemicals on concrete. Another non-chloride worth mentioning is "beet juice". It is considered an additive to salt or brine with it's main use as providing "residual effect". It forms a synergy with salt or brine that make the combined product perform better than either could do by itself. Beet juice is the carbohydrate that remains after the de-sugaring the sugar beet (has nothing to do with red garden beets - isn't red, not sticky, doesn't stain). It forms a film on the pavement that hard-pack cannot stick to which makes for easier plowing and a lot less salt used overall when battling a storm. Other interesting side benefits of the sugar beet include making salt work at very low temperatures, good corrosion inhibitor, and is environmentally friendly.

    Winter liquids are becoming more popular with contractors and their use is increasing. The use of winter liquids will probably never replace rock salt although it will diminish it's use over time. Winter liquids allow you to do more with less. I once heard another well known winter maintenance consultant say "...if you're not using winter liquids-you're dumb; if you used winter liquids and quit-you did something wrong - figure it out and get it right". They are on the increase because they work, and they work well. Talk to your suppliers, use suggested application rates through equipment you know will accurately meter specific rates for anti-icing or prewetting. Brines, natural well brines, proprietary chloride blends and beet juice - they all work! Start small and figure out what will work in YOUR program. There is no such thing as one tool does all (...although I've always considered duct tape a "must have").
     
  2. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,741

    I like you. I have lots of questions.
     
  3. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    Welcome .............
     
  4. Winterologist

    Winterologist Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    What are your questions?
     
  5. Kubota 8540

    Kubota 8540 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,952

    Very good post. My tool box is big and the number of tools are growing. Nothing like having the right tool for any given job or temperature! Right tool for right job = more $profit$. I decreased the amount of bulk salt I purchased this year by about 40% because of my liquid usage and results last year.
     
  6. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    I just cut and pasted this from another thread. After reading your other posts I am now thinking perhaps beet juice with salt.

    Here is the original thread I posted on. It is a good read also.
    http://www.plowsite.com/showthread.php?t=70793
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  7. Kubota 8540

    Kubota 8540 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,952

    I have no experience with beet juice, but I have talked to the owner of a company who supplies a popular beet juice product. I have crunched the numbers, and I did not see an opportunity, in my operation ,for an increase in profits.At least not enough to purchase it when the cost was in the $2.75-$3.50 range. Decreasing your salt usage by 10% doesn't offset the cost of the beet juice. Not until you get in the 100's of tons of salt usage. Want low cost product and high profit?
    Surface temps of 15+ use 23% salt brine solution. Surface temp 5-15 use mag chloride. Or 10 degrees and lower to minus ? degrees use liquid calcium chloride. RIGHT TOOL FOR RIGHT JOB = MORE PROFITS
     
  8. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    I am in no way concerned with the salt usage really. I'm just curious about saving my labor time on site. I also don't like to leave until all ice is off the walkways because of the older clientele and liability issues.
     
  9. Winterologist

    Winterologist Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    ...it's good to see that some of you are really thinking. Here's a few more thoughts to consider. Brine @ 15F and above - sure. Mag @ 5-15F - ditto. Calcium from 10F down to rediculus cold - absolutely. Stocking 3 different products could become a logistical nightmare. All of these products work. All are corrosive (many are thinking - "who cares", until I rot out a piece of my own equipment). At 5F or -5F both Calcium and Mag are working well - so well that, in short order, there's more melted ice (water) than "chloride". This quickly re-freezes creating a re-application issue consuming more chemical, more time (is money), more fuel and more wear & tear on your equipment. Beet juice works differently. It produces a film on the pavement that ice can't stick to. Any go-backs initially involve only blading off - NOT more chemicals. It takes alot less chemistry to prevent the bond of snow & ice to the pavement than to chemically burn it up later. Beet juice added to your program typically reduces the number of applications needed during an event. It also reduces the total amount of "chlorides" you're putting into the environment while doing an even better job. Cost is certainly a factor, but consider this ...raw materials are approx 20-25% of YOUR overall cost. The other 75-80% is fuel, time / overtime, wear & tear on equipment, and those other small things that add up to the cost of doing business. If you could use a product that took a bite out of both sides of the equation, wouldn't you give that some more thought? Beet juice isn't for everybody, and as a tool, isn't used all the time. However, some of the most successful programs I've seen and heard about around the Country include beet juice in their winter program - typically an 80% brine (or natural brine) + 20% beet juice. This one solution does all at all temperatures. A concoction called "Supermix" as developed out of McHenry County, IL DOT blends 80% sodium chloride brine (least expense, and most benign on concrete per recent Michigan Tech research), 15% beet juice and 5% calcium chloride (used for quick low temp burn but held at 5% to more minimize other known traits of this chloride). The resulting mix is being adopted by DOT.s, Counties, Cities (and some contractors) around the Country because it is being proven the "most-effective", "least-cost-to-use-per-lane-mile" deicing blend. Contractors that I've talked to have studied this concoction. They have tried all different ratios. Most see rock salt brine as a real plus, however the investment in a brine-maker is initially hard to swallow (usually pays for itself in year 1). Those starting with natural well brines (rich in Cal-Mag Chlorides) add 20% beet juice to achieve the optimal residual effect. Several played around with various ratios of calcium chloride, finding that the more they increased the calcium in the mix - the quicker the burn-down on hard-pack, BUT, refreeze issues frequently were observed (meant re-application issues). The larger contractors found that going back didn't improve their bottom line. The most success observed came from either a 80 brine or : 20 beet juice blend, or a 75 brine : 20 beet juice : 5 calcium chloride blend (Supermix).
    The increase of 5% beet juice for contractors doing parking lots and sidewalks is associated with traffic speed. A County or City applying a 15% beet juice blend with traffic moving at 30-60 MPH will easily move that product around on the road. A contractor applying a 20% beet juice blend will get similar effects with traffis moving through a parking lot @ 10-20 MPH. Again beet juice isn't for everybody, but winter liquids are - try some!
     
  10. cseutah

    cseutah Member
    from Utah
    Messages: 54

    we started using liquids for the same reason, we service alot of high profile or easy lawsuit claim properties and do not leave the area till all stores are clear from ice. so its not so much the cost savings other than labor savings i will typically have at minimum 8 to 12 trucks out up to 4 hrs after the storms babysitting stores.
     
  11. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    In this area we typically use sand/salt mix on the parking lots and roadways because of the climate and populous. Businesses here cannot/will not afford to pay for straight salt applied on larger lots considering the number of serviceable events. This keeps my material costs relatively low in comparison to other areas, so the labor savings is really what I hope to obtain.

    cseutah. Keep us posted on how it works out.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  12. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,741

    Winter

    My Situation:

    I have seasonal 'plowing' accounts at condos and townhomes that are 1" trigger. We often get 3/4" fluffy flurries that are boarderline triggerable events. For example one of these places is only 9000 sq ft of concrete, but its lots of back dragging(time consuming). Another place is about 25000 sq ft. So these are small places. Even though they are not paying for salt, they are paying for service. I'd like a liquid I could spray to melt these small places rather then plowing. This would also provide residual melting so I would not have to go as often with flurries.

    I'd also like to use these small places as a learning experience to 'get my feet wet in liquids' so I can offer it on larger accounts next year.

    My conditions and supplies:

    I have the room for storage containers and making my own brine. I'd like to make my own. Temps are usually above 0', but can dip to -15 air temp (pre windchill). I'd like to only have to make one product, and maybe 'spike' it when the temps are colder.

    I have a 300 gallon tank and the spray system will be finished in the next 2 weeks. I plan on using a 3.5hp Pacer pump with 150 gpm. I have electric valves to control the on/off from the cab. (I love farmers lol)

    My plan (and questions):

    I plan on making salt brine using just bagged salt. I figured I could put in a couple bags of calcium pellets to make it 'hotter' when needed. Or when extremely cold I could use just calcuim brine instead of salt brine.

    My questions...

    1. I am no chemist, can you tell me how many lbs of salt I would need per 100 gallons of water to get the right concentrated mix? How about how many lbs of calcuim I should put in per the same 100 gallons of water?

    2. We have sugar beet processing plants nearby, can I just go there and get this beet juice? What should I expect to pay for it buying just 200-300 gallons at a time.

    3. If I can get beet juice, should I just substitute 20 gallons of the beet juice for 20 gallons of water in the process... keeping everything else the same? (per 100 gallons)

    4. Anything I am missing? Or any suggestions?

    Thanks alot for sharing your experience and knowledge.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  13. Winterologist

    Winterologist Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    ...from Image post:

    My questions...

    1. I am no chemist, can you tell me how many lbs of salt I would need per 100 gallons of water to get the right concentrated mix? How about how many lbs of calcuim I should put in per the same 100 gallons of water?
    Answer - I am a Chemist and would suggest making @ approx 2 lbs salt per gallon water. Buy a "salometer" (a hydrometer for measuring saline or salt solutions) and check brine concentration with it. You're looking to make a 23.3% solution (about 88.5 on the solometer). Concentrations higher than that precipitate out salt at the temps you'll be using it at. Concentrations lower than that freeze up - the magic is at 23.3 % or as close as you can get to it. In your case, I'd start by adding 20 lb salt to 100 gal water - dissolve it and check with a solometer. Make adjustments as needed.

    2. We have sugar beet processing plants nearby, can I just go there and get this beet juice? What should I expect to pay for it buying just 200-300 gallons at a time.
    Answer: Most sugar beet processing plants will not directly sell product to you. Their entire focus is sugar, not any by-products. More than likely they don't want a string of contractor trucks lined up at their plants - you're better off finding a beet juice supplier. More importantly, the material you're looking for is, in the sugar industry, called a "raffinate". This material is considerably different than molasses - molassas at 10 or 15F would pump like putty. There are only a handful of raffinate producing plants in the Country, but many more molassas plants. A 270-300gal tote is is common throughout the Country. It'll be a heavy too - 10.6 lbs/gal ...a 270gal tote is just shy of 3,000 lbs.

    3. If I can get beet juice, should I just substitute 20 gallons of the beet juice for 20 gallons of water in the process... keeping everything else the same? (per 100 gallons)
    Answer: An easy way to make, for example, a 20% blend is to add 20 gal beet juice (be sure to add an anti-foam agent to the beet juice first, your supplier will have this - you'll need about 8-9 oz anti-foam for all 270 gal of beet juice in the tote) to your finished goods tank. Add 80 gal brine - the tank will be now read 100 gal. If, under severely cold conditions, you'd like to add alittle calcium chloride, then make a 25% solution ahead of time and substitute 5 or 10 gal of brine with your hotter calcium brine. Anytime beet juice is involved in the mix, always pump in "below liquid level". In other words, never let the blend entering a the tank splash ontop of the liquid already in the tank = promotes foaming because of the different density of materials.

    4. Anything I am missing? Or any suggestions?
    Answer: Application rates for anti-icing (being proactive before an event) with beet juice blends start about 30 gal / acre. Adjust up or down in increments of 5 gal / acre based on how much moisture you're dealing with and what you see it doing in YOUR program with YOUR equipment. Anyone prewetting salt at the spinner or auger with this same blend should run about 10 gal a ton - turn your salt output down. These are starting points and can be adjusted to meet conditions and your ability to understand "residual effect". Real bad weather doesn't mean crank up the output - over-application of anti-icing deicers is NEVER a good idea. The difference between brine and beet-juice brine might be several DAYS depending on weather and traffic. Remember ...if the event starts as rain or freezing rain, all anti-icing efforts are gone - washed away. If the event comes in as sleet, snow, freezing for or black ice - it works!
     
  14. Kubota 8540

    Kubota 8540 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,952

    Bagged solar salt that is 99% pure, ( what I use ) 2.3 pounds per gallon or 230 pounds per 100 gallon to make salt brine. To make the super mix, is the percentages by weight or by volume?
     
  15. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,741


    I love you. Thanks!

    Thats all the answers for a salt brine, sweet. How about making the 25% calcium brine? How many lbs of calcium pellets/flakes should I be adding to 100 gallons?
     
  16. Kubota 8540

    Kubota 8540 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,952

    A 32% liquid calcium chloride is the ideal % with the lowest freeze point. I've never made it because I buy mine in liquid bulk.
    Put 41 lbs. of Dowflake Xtra in 8.2 gallons of water and you will end up with 10 gallons of 32% liquid calcium chloride.
    If you wanted to make 250 gallons of 32% calcium chloride, you would need 1036 lbs. of Dowflake Xtra and 206.1 gallons of water.
    In one gallon of water - 4 lbs. Dowflake Xtra and 0.8 gallons of water will give you 1 gallon of 32% cc.
    These are formulas I found somewhere, but I never tried making it. I have read it generates a lot of heat when you add the flake to water? 140 degrees +
     
  17. Lightningllc

    Lightningllc 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,945

    I have been adding 2.3 pounds per gallon of water and getting 23%, But I use a bagged de-icer blend product which has sodium,magnesium,pottassium,calcium & cma.

    I am still trying to find out the percents of each product in the bag but I am trying it out and see what happens.

    I am trying it out at my shop and neighboring parking lots before i sell it.

    I put it in a gallon jug and it weighed 10.5 pounds, left it out side it dropped down to 15 degrees and didn't freeze. so I think im onto something??? $.30 a gallon when done.

    Still thinking about getting some cal brine delivered and spiking it with my touch.
     
  18. deicepro

    deicepro PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,124

    Did you copy and paste that to sound smart?
     
  19. Kubota 8540

    Kubota 8540 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,952

    I did the same thing the first time I made my 23% salt brine. Last winter I put it in a bucket , set it outside at the shop. Temp went down to -7 to - 10 degrees and it didn't freeze. So I tried it as anti - icing, about a week later. it worked great. Cost me 26 cent/gal. I would think you could do so with most bagged product. Just have to experiment and watch the cost.
     
  20. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,868

    Have to come back and read all this.

    Reduce salt usage by 10%? Hmmm, glad mine worked better than that.