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Calculating Salt?

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by Mitragorz, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. 04hd

    04hd Senior Member
    from WI
    Messages: 170

    Just bought a pallet of course solar salt from farm and fleet today. $227 for 49 (50lb) bags, that makes it about 4.63 a bag. I charge $10 a bag applied. I have a walk behind spykers spreader for the lot and then hand spread sidewalks. Granted I don't salt anything I don't already plow.
  2. BossPlowMaster

    BossPlowMaster Senior Member
    Messages: 203

    4 are small parking lots and the rest are resi's.... I was always told that salting makes more money than plowing..... i estimate if we have a good year here salting will bring me in about 5-6k. depending on the snow falls.
  3. Billious

    Billious Member
    Messages: 72

    Must be a Madison thing, I do the same thing. When I fling out of a 5 gallon bucket, I feel like I have more control to send the salt where it's actually needed. You know how when you have some packed snow/ice on just a small part of a drive? It's not worth throwing salt everywhere just to hit that little spot...
  4. frue

    frue Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 52

    Hello, i am sorry you had to go through hoops to find the info you desire. Also reading through you still did not get an answer! I went through this 4 years ago so i decided I would find out for myself. Here are the formulas you are looking for

    Now I am going to assume its sunny out if it is not then you ad a few more pounds per thou! Now this is a cleared lot just scraped to the pavement.

    28-32 Degrees w/sun 8-10 lb of sound per thou.
    20-28 Degrees 11-14 lb per thou.
    13-20 Degrees 15-20 lb per tho
    0-12 you will need to be at 20 lb per thou and keep driving over it and or mag calcium mix.
    anything below 0 for an extended time frame you will need magic, mag, or calcium in the mix.

    The problem with your question is that most guys even the so called big boys have no clue they just set the spreader and go. The above formula works every time never fails. I do not put more then 20 pounds per thousand at any given time. I always clear the lot. I am not a half of inch melter type of guy.

    I run bulk salt in 5 gallon buckets. so each 5 gallon bucket is 2.25. so an average driveway is about 2400 square ft. if you put it on at 10lb per thou you will need 24 lb of salt at a cost to yourself of 1.08. How much you charge is completely up to you. personally i would plow that size for 25.00 and salt for the same price so that stop is 50.00!

    Hope that helps my friend and sorry about the posters who say do a search. Let me translate for you, i have no clue how much salt per thou it takes to melt a lot!!!!!

  5. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 722

    20 lbs per thousand would be 800 lbs per acre. 1000 lbs shy of what it would take for an icy/shady lot....... maybe driveways are different?
  6. Mitragorz

    Mitragorz Senior Member
    Messages: 246

    Great post, Frue!

    I actually got a really nice PM from a member who shared a good amount of insight. He said that, for him, one bag would do about 2500 sq ft. So 20lb/thousand seems to be a good ballpark number.
  7. frue

    frue Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 52

    Never had an issue at 20 lb. I always clear a lot, always. For ice conditions I run through at 20 lb. let it sit for an hour then come back, blade it up, then re apply at 20. So there is three services to that particular area.

    This formula works 100 percent of the time for me. My lots are always melted down. Driveways would be even easier because of blacktop. Remember it's about making money the less salt the more money.

    Now let's break down your formula. An acre lot goes about 180 to salt in these parts. Now if your putting 1800 lbs of salt down at 75-95 a ton your eating halfof your profit away on a lot that could be melted at a much lower calibration.
  8. frue

    frue Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 52

    I suggest trying your own. Run a test thats what I did. Thats how I came to the formula. Cut up an area into fours then measure out salt and apply. you will be amazed at how much money you could save on salt. I go by peoples lots and they are blasted with salt for days! But look its melted, yep it sure is. You put so much down it coveres the first inch of the next storm:laughing:

    I do an average of 14 thousand sq ft lots. I have never even put 20lb of salt down but maybe one time since 2009. Melted everytime! Knowing your conditions and this is a bing and!!!!!! DO NOT OVER EXTEND YOURSELF! Thats when you cant get back to service properly! can you say lawsuit city.

    hello mr. Landscaper on the evening of such and such how much salt was thrown down? i dont know I hit a button
    Well mr. landscaper snow plow expert how do you know you put enough down to suffice the ice in which my client fell on? Uh I push the button?
    Judgement for the plaitiff 30,000 plus pain and suffering.
    It happens i have been sued twice. Keep great records and know your formulas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:salute:
  9. rbljack

    rbljack Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 43

    Been a member over at lawn site for a while now and have been in the business of lawn care primarily. This last winter storm caused a lot of ice in this area of texas and I was called about spreading sand or salt on a commercial lot.

    I couldn't get de icing materials, so had to use salt. The lot measured out to approx. 40000 sq feet. So based on the 20 pounds per 1000 suggestion above, if im understanding this correctly, that would mean 20 Times 40, which equals approx. 800 pounds of salt, or 20 bags. Is that correct? If so, I was way low on my application. I only laid down 7 bags.

    Also, I know I can use the search function for this (and will be), but was curious what yall would charge for an area 40000 square feet parking lot. Based on some of the searches ive seen so far, if icy melt cost 9 bucks a bag, and you double or triple the price of that bag, we are talking about 27 bucks a bag multiplied by the 20 bags in the estimate above....So that would mean a bill around 360 to 530 dollar?? This sounds high to me, but I have no comparison yet.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
  10. frue

    frue Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 52

    Hello, What you are asking only you could answer. But I will give you some tips. To answer your question one would need to know what you need to make in business? Just because I give you a formula does not mean that it would be enough to meet the needs of your out fit.

    Dont let guys cry low ballerIts about what YOU need to make. lets break it down. If I do a lot for 100 and after all is said and done I put 45 in my pocket. But you do it for 185 and only put 35 because your expenses are more then who is ahead? See these are the sceniroes you will come up with when asking prices.

    I would charge 150.00 to plow and 150.00 to salt that lot. Now here is the tip. This is on the lower end of the scale and when you get hammerd with 6 inches or more you will get smacked. So whats the answer higher cost? Nope more service trips! See you do not want to take on more then you can service multiple times in a 10 inch storm. So here is what I do. 10 inch storm two inches fall, plow it up. another three fall, plow it up, another 2 fall plow it up! Yep thats how you make your money! if you wait to the storm is over you will regret it. If the customer say no, wait! then move on! My pricing might not work for you! So add up your cost then divide it up into a hourly wage then add your profit!

    finally I can tell you that for an 80lb bag of salt cost about 7 bucks here. Remember in my original formula with a cleared lot, with sunny condition and temps in the 30's you can melt it at 10lb per tho! 20lb is at the highest side for me! Again i do not melt down 1/2 inchers. all lots are cleared first then ice melt applied. This works for me but I see a lot of guys melting 1inch storms so you would need a lot more! so things you would need to know is how long does it take to plow a lot of that size, in 2 inch storms, and 6 inch storms. then get an average for the hour. You can either do it by trial and error or simply watch someone plow a similar lot! Watching might get you some really cool techniques too! Hope that helps my friend!

  11. Mitragorz

    Mitragorz Senior Member
    Messages: 246

  12. starspangled6.0

    starspangled6.0 Senior Member
    Messages: 270

    OK, so one of my employee and I calculated this lb.\per sq. ft rate today (caffeine inspires you to do weird things during snow storms):

    The city of St. Paul typically applies 400 lbs\mile of road. I'm guessing we're talking coated sodium chloride here. They recently got chewed up since the roads in St. Paul are all icy, so they doubled it to 800 lbs\mile. As a mile is 5280 ft long, and each road lane is roughly 9' wide, we're looking at 800 lbs per 47,520 sq. ft (for reference, an acre is 43,560 sq. ft). Divide 800 by 47,520, and you've got 0.017 pounds per sq. ft.

    On one of our lots, we're looking at roughly 0.03 lbs per sq. ft (150 lbs of salt\5000 sq. ft). Here's my question- is the same formula the city uses for roadways good for parking lots? This one I'm thinking about has been a pill in particular, and I want all my t's crossed and i's dotted, just in case. I'm fine throwing and extra 2 bags of salt in the spreader if we need to, bumping it up to 0.05 lbs\sq. ft, since obviously we want a clear lot, not bragging rights about putting down more then the city.
  13. frue

    frue Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 52

    O my 150 lb for 5000 you trying to desolate the concrete too? Listen I have not went over 20 lb per tho never. I have always melted my lots. In fact last week was about ten degrees with ice. My lots were black all day. I don't know that I have even went 15 lb per tho this year. I have a lot that is 14000 and I usually treated it with 160 lb of salt total. Look at my formulas from above I promise you they work 100 % of the time.
  14. starspangled6.0

    starspangled6.0 Senior Member
    Messages: 270

    Rookie mistake......... It's 20,000 sq ft. Don't ask how I got 5000 sq ft. I'm not even sure myself!

    Am I correct in saying you're recommending 200 lbs of salt per time?
  15. frue

    frue Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 52

    Depends on temp and if it is going to be sunny. If it is between 27-32 with sun I will go between 8-10 lb. if it's going to be 10 and below 15-20 lb per tho. I hardly ever go 20 only when I am trying to melt down quarter inchers and it's cold.
  16. frue

    frue Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 52

    I have a chart in the above post on this page
  17. yardsmith

    yardsmith Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    For my first couple of years I used a walk spreader, similar to the one you spread fert with, only bigger. I didn't have a ton of accounts so time wasn't much of an issue. Back in mid-late 90's I avg $75 an hour pushing that little spreader. Plus I got the salt exactly where it needed to go.

    Today, we have more accounts, less time, & use tailgate spreaders. I still have a walker or two in the garage in case of a breakdown lol.

    Honestly I don't know of hardly ANY homeowners that want their drives salted. I have one, but she runs a salon at her home, so technically its a business. But anyways I see good used spreaders on Craigslist all the time for around $400. Practice makes perfect with the controller on those :D

    As far as prices, I charge by the pound for commercial lots. Charge so much per pound then fig out how much you used, & charge accordingly. For drives I would tell them 5-10 bucks for salt depending on how much you had to use. Any more than that & red flags go up in their head.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  18. arathol

    arathol Member
    from ct
    Messages: 35

    Actually, application rates are usually calculated by lane mile. Generally a standard lane is 11'. 400 lbs/mile is actually 400 lbs/2 lane mile, or 200 lbs/single lane mile, so its 5280 x 22 = 116160 ft². That translates to .0034 lbs/ft² for a 200 lbs/single lane mile application. Thats the way its done here. However, its not really practical to try applying rates used on the highway to parking lots. Those rates are not really designed to burn the pavement off, rather they are used to keep a brine layer on the pavement to prevent snow pack from bonding to the road surface so the road will remain passable and can be cleared faster.

    Keep in mind that untreated sodium chloride has a fairly steep performance curve. There is a sharp drop between 32° and about 20°. It takes nearly 5x as much salt at 20° to melt the same amount of snow at 32°.
  19. starspangled6.0

    starspangled6.0 Senior Member
    Messages: 270

    ^^ good info! I guess we'll try experimenting with Frue's formula, and see how the parking lot responds.
  20. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,870

    Great info for you right there.