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hand mixing salt and sand in the spreader?

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by MikeInMaine, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. MikeInMaine

    MikeInMaine Junior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2


    Need some advice, new to spreaders.

    Been plowing (with farm tractors or trucks) for 30 years and never had need for a sander/spreader. Now I am responsible for plowing/sanding the 1/2 mile of private gravel road, part of which is quite steep, that I live on. With more frequent ice events in this part of Maine, I decided I need a sander/spreader. I don't want to even think about melting the ice.. just want to be able to spread sand for traction.

    I have a line on an old spreader.. holds 1.5 yd. I have a 90' Dodge W250 3/4 ton. I figure I can safely carry one yd and the spreader for a load of about 3,500 pounds.

    Here's the problem. I don't have a place to store the mix. I figure I'm going over to the local gravel pit for a yd of sand for each storm. BUT, its not possible to get the sand exactly when I need it, so its always going to sit in the sander for a day or so. I'm guessing it will tend to freeze into a solid block, especially if it snows/rains on it. hence, want to mix some salt in with the sand. Also heard that a small amount of salt in the mix will help the sand bite into the ice.

    I've read that 10% salt is enough to keep the sand flowing.

    How to mix the sand and salt? Basically my pit guy is gonna dump a yard of sand in the spreader. Do I then dump the salt on top so any moisture drives it down into the sand? Do I need to actually mix it in? If so, any ideas about how to do it? Drill with a 5 gallon paint mixer on it maybe?

    Appreciate any helpful thoughts/ideas.

    Searched for this topic in the forum but couldn't find much.

  2. Boyerlandscape

    Boyerlandscape Member
    Messages: 31

    Hey Mike,

    First off , a 1.5 yard spreader won't make it a half a mile on one load (unless your going very light...maybe)
    In my experience, the salt mixed in may help but it can certainly still freeze. The beauty of the 1.5 yard is you can empty it out every time as opposed to the bigger ones.

    If I were you, either get yourself a pile delivered or get bagged tube sand.
  3. leigh

    leigh 2000 Club Member
    from CT
    Messages: 2,342

    You'd be better off bringing your salt to the pit and mixing it up before he loads you. It's going to freeze up if left outside in the sander. Straight salt freezes in my sander and I'm down in balmy ct!
  4. MikeInMaine

    MikeInMaine Junior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2

    Boyer, Leigh,

    Appreciate the replies!

    I do go pretty light on most of the road and its only about 60% of the width of a normal road. We all run studs or have 4wd on our regular vehicles and we're used to a bit of ice. Our hill is what needs heavier application but its only about 200 or 300 yards long.

    Its 1 degree this morning and the sand/salt mix I got from our town pile has not frozen in my sander. It is pretty dry. maybe why it hasn't frozen. I also suspect that its pretty heavy on the salt ratio.

    I can drive about 25 miles round trip and get premix sand and salt. Might be what I have to do.. until I figure out where to put and protect a pile at home.

    I suspect putting a tarp cover on my sander will be an important strategy too. Hadn't thought about that before as I don't see them around here.. not sure why not.

    Thanks again for helping me think about this!

  5. ANA Proscapes

    ANA Proscapes Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 109

    You are better off just buying it premixed. I've never had any mix freeze on me in the past 15 yrs. I've definetly had salt freeze up. If you have any left in the spreader when your done you should tarp it to keep water out. That will help to keep it from freezing too.
  6. DoplerG85

    DoplerG85 Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    I've had tube sand freeze solid in the bags! Any idea on how to store a small pile of mix? I use a Speedcaster2 that only holds 10 cuft and I don't like to keep it on the truck. So my only thought is to load bags of sand at the same time I mix in salt. I'd rather get a small pile of premix and store it in some kind of 3 yard bin but I'm worried it would just freeze.
  7. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 722

    If it's pre mixed and covered it shouldn't freeze, one of our contracts puts the sand in Rubbermaid trash bins with covers for employees, they haven't froze yet.
  8. DoplerG85

    DoplerG85 Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Is having it already mixed helpful in preventing it from freezing? It seems that from what I read in the forums its the exposure to air that allows moisture and makes it solidify.
  9. Boyerlandscape

    Boyerlandscape Member
    Messages: 31

    Hey no problem there bub!

    I'm down in southern NH...honestly with the temps we have now, salt won't do much or Anything. Especially if you guys are the typical good ol boys with 4x4 and studs, go straight sand. It's cheaper!
  10. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 722

    Yes it helps, straight sand is more likely to freeze, also make sure it is sheltered from rain/snow.
  11. MSS Mow

    MSS Mow Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 983

    Hey Mike. What part of Maine are you in?

    Check with other local contractors about being able to occasionally buying a load of sand/salt from them. For what little bit you will need, putting up your own pile might not make the most sense.

    As far as mixing the salt after you get the sand, it won't do you any good to just dump salt on top of the sand in sander. It needs to be mixed. And for a small quantity, you should look at 15-20% salt (not 10%).

    But ultimately, your best bet is to just get it from someone else who already has a pile. You might even be able to get it from your town pile if you pay them for it. Never hurts to ask.
  12. aslc

    aslc Junior Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 25

    Forget the salt and sand and just spread gravel
    it will get you the traction you need and you don't need salt
    Get gravel without any fines so it dosent freeze