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Many salting questions...

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by maple city lawn care, Sep 4, 2003.

  1. maple city lawn care

    maple city lawn care Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    Hi Guys,

    I know some of this has been covered before, but please bear with me. I need your help.

    We are in NW Indiana and get quite a bit of snow. This will be our 3rd year plowing, our first year dabbling in salting. I have many questions.

    We have a large apartment complex that we have always plowed, never salted. Plow at about 3". We do a church that needs hit at 2". We are bidding a retirement apartment complex that I want to bid plowing and salting. We are also bidding 10 gas stations for this season. Plus a lot of small businesses & residentials.

    I have read about salt and sand. When do you use what? Does is have to be mixed and what mixture?

    If 2" falls, I can salt only? What about 4"? Where is the cut-off?

    Do I plow and then salt if there is more snow predicted?

    For pricing, salt is per pound + an application fee?

    How much snow can fall on top of a salted lot before I will need to go and plow or re-salt?

    Are residential customers opposed to salting rather than plowing?

    I know... alot of questions, just do what you can to point me in the right direction.

  2. Highpoint

    Highpoint Senior Member
    Messages: 241

    yes and no

    Central Missouri region. We use sand only when there is a sheet of ice only or is below the snow. We use sand only on 1 a couple of properties that absolutely will not allow salt or chemical. (they feel it will damage there concrete) (((We LOVE this, pays awesome)))

    We will only mix salt and sand for other properties if after clearing, there is still a build up of ice or is just still plain slick. Mostly at our trucking properties.

    We have 90% of our accounts set up with a 1" trigger. 4 are set up with a 1/4" trigger:D We sell the fact that it will cost much much more to clear away 1 inch of packed snow with melter's than if we just cleared the stuff. Plus the liability factor for the business. (Bare in mind we only average 4-5 events per season. It is easier to sell this way). We feel that the snow needs to be cleared first before installing the sand. Installing salt or sand after it snows 1 inch or more just does not make since. If anything, you should have installed the salt before it snowed. this will help with the removal.

    On some properties, we will salt just after it begins snowing. On most we just clear, then salt regardless. Salt especially if they are predicting more snow!

    We bill out sand, salt and chemical at a flat rate per pound. This rate covers or cost PLUS installation.

    As everyone will say, you need to plow with the storm. You will need to hit your lots at 4-6 inch intervals. Some companies here in your region can give you better specifics.

    Generally, for us, residentials tend to NOT want salt or sand after clearing. We mostly just clear them. We have found it easier to sell the sand for most. They figure the salt or chemical will damage their property. Sand just washes away.

    Remember, this info is based on OUR region and surely needs to be adjusted to yours. Good Luck!:dizzy:
  3. Mick

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

    sand vs salt vs salt/sand:

    If you're working on a finished surface (pavement, concrete etc) you want to use straight salt. Sand will accumulate to the sides and need to be cleaned up. Salt will just melt away with no cleanup. Careful not to apply too heavily and burn the grass. If they'll spring for the cost, a treated salt would be best.

    Gravel or hardpack - usually stick with sand or combination of sand/salt.

    Mixing salt with sand: I only do that to keep the sand from clumping. Ratio is about 1:9. Keep in mind the temp difference between you and Missouri. You are more like to experience lower average temp for longer periods of time - leading to freezing/clumping of straight sand. Stronger than that, you're going for melting action of salt and using sand would be counterproductive.

    If you can, I would recommend pretreating the parking lots at the first flakes. This will keep the snow from sticking as much. Again, a treated salt is even much better. Some products will claim to melt up to 2" of snow. So you could go out after a 6" snowfall and only have about 4" to scoop up.

    The big question in all this - Will the customer pay for it?
  4. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    Use straight salt.Any type of mix,or sand isn't worth it,unless it suits the purpose required.

    You can burn off up to 2" or more of light fluffly snow,if the ground and air temps are warm.When it's much colder,the salt is less effective,and you'll be lucky to burn off a 1/2".

    Call around,and find out what others are doing in your area,and how\what they charge for it as pricing structure tends to be very regional.

    If your properties don't need a lot of salt,then you go go with a fixed rate per application.On larger properties,you'll probably be getting into per ton applied rates.
  5. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    Go with straight salt. There are a lot of threads about applicaiton rates and why the amounts are recommended. Generally figure on 300 - 400 lbs per acre on average. There may be times when you dump 800 or 1,000 lbs per acre and there will be more times when you'll only need 250 or 300.

    Bid on a per occurence if you can. It's tough to do when you've never done it. As Chris said, check out your market, it will give you a good idea of where others are.

    You can also start out by charging per bag your first year. Then switch to a per app price later. The per bag price will insulate you a little as you learn how much you'll need depending on the temps and site conditions.

    With bagged product you won't do much melting down of existing snow unless you've got less than 1/2" just because you'll need a boat load of product. As soon as you hit 1" you'll be plowing most likely, but again, depends on the moisture conent of the snow and the temps.

    ROSELAWN Member
    Messages: 78

    I have very good customers that let me pre-salt because in Kansas City the snow either lands on warm pavement and freezes or comes down moist and packs in hard. Pre-salting will help stop the ice from bonding with the pavement or with wet snow it doesn't pack down, the salt keeps it mushy = easy removal. Some of my heavy traffic sites....video and auto parts stores I just salt (1-3" event) then clear after hours. I totally agree with Mick.... TREATED SALT is the way to go, I've never used sand.:D
  7. myo

    myo Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    If you use straight salt on your parking lots, wouldn't that burn the grass severly? I have not done any salting/sanding, but plan to soon. What is the difference between untreated and treated salt?

    If you apply the salt at just the right amount and not to heavy, should that help prevent burning the grass?

    Thanks in advance
  8. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    It will only burn the grass if you spread it on the grass,or lay it heavy and the runoff gets to it.If your careful how you spread it,and don't lay it too heavy,the grass will be fine.
  9. nsmilligan

    nsmilligan PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 704

    I only mix sand with salt to keep the sand from freezing, and only use sand on unpaved lots or road ways. On pavement salt is the answer, especially treated salt (Magic-0, Caliber etc). I only pretreat with treated salt, as I found pretreating with straight salt allows for a lot of the salt to get washed away, especially in our climate where it seems the weatherperson is only right about 30% of the time, where the treated salt tends to "stick" to the pavement and can actually be effective in preventing snow from bonding to the pavement for a few days after application if the weatherperson happens to be a little "off":mad: The most important thing to remember is that salt or treated salt works at ground temperature and air temps don't mean a lot, so even if it's really cold ,but a little sun will warm the pavement to well above air temp, and bingo bare, blacktop! Treated salt will also prevent ice from reforming when the sun goes down.

  10. myo

    myo Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    Thanks for the info
  11. HLS Wholesale

    HLS Wholesale Senior Member
    Messages: 111

    I made a killing a few years back. I found a local school district that was spreading all their salt by using bags. I sat down with the guy we figured he was spending $750 on the materials alone. I told him I'd spread the salt for the same price, including labor. We agreed, and I proceeded to spread salt the entire winter for $750 every time. It only took less than 2 tons of salt and I pay about $40/ton. Took about an hour each time.

    They wised up the next winter, though.