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frozen salt

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by Chaser13114, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. Chaser13114

    Chaser13114 Senior Member
    Messages: 103

    I'm not new to plowing, or sanding for that matter, but I am new to the salt thing.

    I operate three v box sanders using a high grit sand material only. Last year a new account requested salt. I started buying a sand salt mix last year and found it to work well however was very expensive as compared to sand or even straight salt. I started buying straight salt by the pallet which was cheaper but cumbersome to mix with sand.

    This year I have hooked up with a bulk salt distributer and I am buying salt by the ton cheaper than the sand salt mix last year. I mix my own sand/salt and it works well.

    Here is the problem. I have a pile (40,000 lbs) of salt stored inside a building which is frozen into one huge block. I also filled numerous garbage cans to distrbute to variuos sites which too are frozen solid. Buying salt in bulk is far cheaper and easier for my opertaion to handle, however what can be done to help this freeze problem?

    Next year maybe I'll buy it earlier in the season allowing it to dry inside but that won't help the mid winter refill I expect. Is their a treatment that will prevent this? I read up about Magic and it wasn't clear if it would solve this problem. It also sounds expensive. Any cheaper options?

    I'm also considering a tailgate spreader to use with just salt for those ocasions when a sand salt truck is not close by or avilalable. Will this bulk salt go through a salter like a 600# Buyers or simuliar? Can I store it in the unit for any amount of time?

    Any advice is appriciated.
  2. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Moisture contenet is too high

  3. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    I agree with Geoff. You've gotten a high amount of moisture, somehow. I use the same type of mix (about 1:10) that I get from bulk supplier. He mixed his sand/salt a couple of months ago and it's been outside since in a three-sided enclosure. I loaded my Vbox and left it in my garage. Yesterday I got a call for sanding and had no problems with temps well below zero.

    I'd say if you buy your bulk salt and let it sit either covered with a tarp or in an enclosure for a month, you should be fine. Be sure your sand has had some time to "dry out" too. I had a three ton pile I let sit for a couple of weeks and it was fine. Every couple of days I just scraped off the top so by the end of the two weeks, the pile was effectively "upside down". (Hey, if you don't have the equipment, like a loader, you do what you have to to get the job done:waving: ).
  4. Chaser13114

    Chaser13114 Senior Member
    Messages: 103

    The material I have mixed with sand is fine. It did not freeze. Its only the pile of straight salt that froze up or chunked up not sure if there is a difference. The sand seems to seperate it enough to not bond to itself. only occasional chunks are present in the sand.

    The salt has been inside for about two weeks and only hardened with the recent sub zero temps. I agree it must have a high mosture content but what can I do about it now. It does break up somwhat with a loader but I have to run over the chunks to break them up and I still have pieces fist size or larger.

    I was hoping for an inexpensive aditive to reduce its bonding together quailties, if that makes sense.

    Thanks for the info so far
  5. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    At this point, I'd say your best choice would be to spray it with Magic or Caliber as you break up the clumps. You'll still get some clumping (at least I did), but they're easily broken up.

    It's not recommended, but what I did for some salt was use Magic in a paint gun on an air compressor. The spray is a lot finer than you'd usually want, but it does a good job of coverage using a minimum of Magic/Caliber. Just make sure to rinse the gun well when your finished.

    I've also sprayed some sand with Magic and it worked real good. Absolutely no clumping all last winter. The untreated pile of sand became a frozen solid mass.
  6. Foz

    Foz Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    In very cold temps like recently, we buy treated salt, seems to keep from chunking. Just got 130 Tons on Thursday & Friday and looks good.
  7. Chaser13114

    Chaser13114 Senior Member
    Messages: 103

    Thanks for the info. I was thinking about trying magic but wasnt sure it would solve the problem. How musch would you expect I would need for 20 ton pile. I have an airless pait sprayer. I wonder if that would work well. Can you buy Magic in a concentrate or through the mail. I'm not aware of any dealers in my area.

    Thanks agian
  8. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Further info for frozen salt

    Forget what I said about spraying your salt with Magic.

    I just went and checked on my salt supply. First some background -

    I bought three tons of rock salt last Spring that had sat outside all Summer and I moved to a three sided enclosure in September. So it had month or so to dry before I treated it with Magic -0. I then stored in inside an unheated garage in 30 and 55 gallon barrels. When I couldn't get another shipment of rock salt from the port, I bought a pallet (30 - 80# bags) of Morton Safe-T-Salt (Halite) which I also treated with Magic -0 and stored in barrels. I sell Magic Salt by the pound to homeowners and small business owners. The barrels have a top and lock ring. Magic is mixed at the rate of approx 2 1/2 quart per 160# which is equal to 8 gal per ton.

    Now, today I checked both the rock salt and the Halite. The rock salt is frozen but can be separated with some difficulty using a shovel. The Halite is not clumped at all.

    Conclusion - the rock salt retained enough moisure that it froze and the Magic did not prevent freezing.
  9. Taconic

    Taconic PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 180

    frozen like a rock

    We have sprayed 12 frozen stockpiles so far this year for both the New York Thruway authority and the New York DOT. We normally treat dry stockpiles but both groups started calling us to spray piles which had not been sprayed and had froze in there salt sheds.Within minutes the trucks were being loaded with loose salt.The problem Mick ran into is due to the mositure and volume of liquid being mixed.He did it right its just that the salt he stored may have had time to dry but it will take moisture right out of the air.Humidy reaks havoc on salt
    John Parker
  10. EIB

    EIB Senior Member
    Messages: 258


    Were do you get your treated salt from? What is it treated with? Magic?
  11. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    OK,, I'm going to start a little argument here. I really doubt that a pile of salt can "freeze" in the sense that water freezes. Any moisture that is in the pile will dissolve a minute amount of the surface of the salt crystals. That will make a brine which would be a saturated solution, the moisture would "melt" as much salt as could be suspended in solution. The resulting brine would be very concentrated and not apt to "freeze" at any temperature we are apt to see, short of the polar regions, maybe.

    But, let's assume a set of conditions are met. First we need a salt pile that is either wet by exposure to free water, (rain or snow) or has absorbed water from the atmosphere. The salt particles will be coated with a thin film of saturated brine at this point.

    Second condition is cold air. Cold air will hold less moisture in the form of vapor than warm air will. So cold air will have less moisture per volume than warm air will.

    Surround our damp salt pile with cold air and the moisture that is holding salt in a brine will now want to pass into the drier air surrounding the pile. As the moisture leaves the brine the brine becomes super saturated and precipitates out in the form of tiny salt crystals. These crystals act as cement to bond the salt granules in the pile into a solid mass.

    The effect is a solid pile, whether it has "frozen" or glued itself together.

    Magic will help prevent this, not by preventing thermal freezing but by keeping the tiny crystals from attaching as tightly to the piles' granules. I try to keep a stockpile of Magic treated salt on hand. Right now I'm just about out and am having to use plain salt.

    I just went through an epsiode with solid pile of about a ton and a half. The material was damp when I treated and stockpiled it. Two days ago it was solid! So solid that I could not poke a shovel into it. Yesterday it had softened and was usable again and I expect that tomorrow will find it virtually a rock.

    Three days ago we were well down in the -10 range. Yesterday it was back up in the 20s. The subzero air was very dry, yesterday the humidity was up again. I had deliberately left the doors open on my bin so the air could circulate.

    The next time I get some damp salt I think I'll try an experiment. I'll bring a bucket of it indoors and see what happens when damp salt is exposed to warm, dry air. If it turns into a brick that should support my theory.

    As a thought, maybe the Halite didn't bind up because it is usually fairly large, uniform particles. These would have less area where surfaces of adjacent particles touch and could be glued together, whereas bulk salt has enough finer particles to fill the voids and provide a better bonding surface.
  12. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Alan, I would agree. All your conditions were met for either frozen or glued, whichever you want to call it. I even had about 100# in a barrel tipped on it's side that was so saturated, about a quart of it was sitting on the salt. The salt was still solid.

    Now I'm trying to figure out what I can do next year to prevent this. If I bought the salt in May and let it sit till October, would it dry out enough? Being in the woods like I am, it gets pretty humid. Maybe I'd better stick with bagged salt? I'd built a wooden shed for salt storage. Maybe I should install a vent fan?
  13. gordyo

    gordyo Senior Member
    Messages: 527

    I had 15 yard of Magic delivered Monday and today, Wednesday I went out and the top 4 inches were "Frozen" Had to really struggle to break through with a shovel. I have heard that this is a good thing as far a protecting the pile but my pile is in a covered concrete storage garage with a garage door on front. With the conditions @ -7 should I fire up the loader and try to break this up and mix the pile or just wait till it warms up a bit??
    What to do.
  14. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393


    If my theory is correct I don't think there is anything you can do. Pile moisture will vary with atmospheric humidity and go up in the summer and then drop back down with the advent of drier, winter, air.


    I'd let it set. That crust should help keep moisture in the pile from percolating out and making things worse. As long as you've got the loader to dig it out with it shouldn't get so bad you can't access it.

    Salt is so hygroscopic that I doubt there is any way to keep it dry other than sealing in something airtight when it is as dry as possible. It got down to -15 overnight and is only up to -10 now. I'll be going by my shed in about an hour and I want to stop in and check on the pile I've got there. Yesterday it was loose almost all the way to the floor. I suspect it will be caked up again, as humidity is 57% and the dewpoint is -22° at the moment. I'm going to track the state of the pile as it relates to humidity and dewpoint to try to see if the correlation is with humidity or temperature.
  15. gordyo

    gordyo Senior Member
    Messages: 527

    Thanks Alan
  16. Alan

    Alan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,393

    OK,, my crude test came up inconclusive.

    Assuming that if a chunk of salt was thermally "frozen" it would be unable to melt further snow this is what I did.

    I took two "frozen" chunks from the pile. I set one on the floor of the bin and ptu a shovelfull of fine, granular snow on top of it. I then crushed another chunk and put that material on top of the snow that had fallen around the first chunk.

    Not quite four hours later I checked the results.

    The snow on top of the chunk had not melted to any appreciable amount.

    The snow under the formeraly frozen salt was completley gone and the salt itself was now totally loose with all granules seperated.

    I think that the snow on top of the hard chunk was not heavy enough to keep it in contact with the salt to a degree sufficient to allow melting to take place. Further, since the salt I had placed on top of the snow DID melt the snow and since it was at the same temperature as the (still) chunk stuff I think this furthers the premise that the salt is not "frozen" in the thermal sense but glued together as I proposed in my first post.

    Definitely would like to hear some opposing arguments.
  17. SkykingHD

    SkykingHD Senior Member
    Messages: 368

    salt clumping

    I use to purchase untreated salt. It would form huge clumps. I used the backhoe to break it up. Sometimes in real cold weather I would have to use a spud bar to break up to get out of spreader. Now I purchase salt with the blue anti clumping agent in it. What a relief...

    Morton in Cleveland sells it. We have had no clumping problems this year. I keep my salt in a coverall building. On concrete. Yes salt absorbs moistue. Ya cant help that. The blue stuff keeps it from clumping.

  18. Chaser13114

    Chaser13114 Senior Member
    Messages: 103

    Any idea what the blue stuff is or if it can be purchased seperetly?

    How does bulk salt go through a tailgate spreader. I have v boxs but was thinking of picking up a tailgate for the small jobs. Don't want to get into buying by the bag though. Is it worth it or should I contiue with the v boxes even on the small lots?
  19. SkykingHD

    SkykingHD Senior Member
    Messages: 368

    blue anti clumping agent

    I dont know what it is. I have ask the drivers and they dont know. As far as using your tailgate spreader I would think if the salt is not in chunks go a head. A stone or frozen chunk would stall the motor and cause you some problems. I would have to look out for that. The only thing is you cant load a little tailgate spreader with a backhoe or loader. Now you have the have to handle it again with a shovel problem.

  20. Chaser13114

    Chaser13114 Senior Member
    Messages: 103

    I had considered the additional handling. Currently it seems I have to call a truck from miles away for a small salt job that could be handled with just a small spreader. I was thinking I could use a tailgate spreader in those occasions. Sounds it might be more of a hassle then its worth.
    Thanks for the info