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Rock salt vs sodium chloride or Magnesium

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by readysnowplow, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. readysnowplow

    readysnowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    Hey, guys. Quick question. I have been using sodium chloride for my salt melt applilcations but last night in Chicago it didn't work at all. I've been getting complaints all day. Does anyone have an answer to which salt (rock, sodium choloride or magnesium) is best for those sheets of ice after a rainy snow storm? I need some real "experienced" answers. i don't want to lose accounts.
  2. jomama45

    jomama45 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,190

    Would treated sand be an option? It may seem real "old fashioned", but it's probaly the most cost effective way to get instant traction. Of course, you have to pass the downsides on to your customers first.
  3. readysnowplow

    readysnowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    I've never heard of treated sand. What is it and what are the good and bad sides of it? Thanks a lot
  4. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    Rock salt is sodium ussmileyflag

    Dont play with sand in Chicago...

    The problem you had last night is 2 things super cold, and not enough product put down. Explain to your customers it was 0 at 5am and a normal application of rock salt wont make its own brine when its that cold.If you normally need 500 pounds for a storm, you would need 1500 to do the job now.
    Your other option is to use mag, cal, or foo foo dust laden rock salt LOL. Kidding on the foo foo dust. Thats whats in most fancy bags of de-icer. Most contain 95% rock salt, a fancy bag, and some outrageous claims for 85% more. Priced right below cal pellets.

    Not sure how your applying but if your bagging you can mix in mag flake (or pellets), or cal pellets with the rock salt to get the brine process going. Pre-wetting works well too, or Magic salt works great but is pricey.
    3 bags of rock, mixed with one bag of cal/mag should be enough, or go 50-50. You can also just hammer on more rock salt, and let the sun do its job :nod:
  5. jomama45

    jomama45 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,190

    It's mostly torpedo sand w/ a small percentage of rock salt. Down sides are tracking it indoors & it can leave sediment behind on lots & in storm sewers in spring. I'd trust T-Man's advice for Chicago, I would imagine the city frowns upon the sand due to the eventual build-up left in the storm sewers. One more reason I'm glad to be living in the burbs/boonies! :laughing:
  6. flyweed

    flyweed Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    Well if you have the equipment and can do it..I'd spray an application of liquid Calcium Chloride over your layer of rock salt...the CaCl2 will react with the sodium chloride and create a brine that won't freeze until about -40F. I am up in Wisconsin and yesterday and today plain old rock salt ain't gonna do anything other than just lay there in this cold!

    If you can't spray liquid.....add Calcium Chloride flakes in with your rock salt. Or you can "prewet" your rocksalt with liquid CaCl2 as well and it will start heating up before you lay it down. Either way, you need Calcium Chloride in the mix to melt ice and snow at these temps.
  7. readysnowplow

    readysnowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    Just so I understand. My spreader holds about 350 lbs so just mixing that ratio 3:1 will get me thru an evening like last night? Also how often would you salt for a night like last nite. I don't want to make multiple trips.
  8. scottL

    scottL PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,613

    Come on.

    Mix in your salter 3 bags to 1 bag ....... And how are you going to hold up 1 bag of material with one hand and pour in the other three into the hopper so it is spread around and not just sectioned off???? or pre wetting????

    He's talking bagged material and hitch spreader

    I get the concept of mixing .... but, someone explain to me how to do this in a lot at 2:am with 30 below wind????
  9. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    Well lets see, a little of this, a little of that, Bam !

    You can make it as difficult as you want :nod:
    Its not rocket science for sure. Spraying cal, or dumping cal over the top treats about 1/10 of the hopper too.
    What I did when I only spread limited bags in a night, with a 1075 was flop the bags over hopper, slit the short end and start dumping, worked fine.
    Whats the difference, your already in the bed of the truck at 2am with a 30 below wind dumping rock salt, kick a couple bags of cal in. No biggee

    Ready if your looking for perfect results splurge for Magic, or find someone selling treated bulk, and get a vibrator. I spread salt yesterday afternoon, then that clipper hit, and I salted heavy again at 5 am. I had a few north exposure spots that were not great, but by mid day everything was fine. Normally I spray ice ban at the spinner to prewet, but I do not have it hooked back up yet :cry:
    I usually check lots the following am if it was a brutal night, re-freezes are not uncommon. Its part of the biz, and you need to charge accordingly.
  10. readysnowplow

    readysnowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    I like the treated bulk idea. I'll look into it here in Chicago or surrounding suburbs (do you know any?) I guess my problem is how to charge for all of this. I've only been in the business for a couple of years and I'm still working that out. The problem is I don't have a lot of people who will consult with you about these things so I really appreciate your input.
  11. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    Russo's and ConservFS have bulk totes, there not cheap.
    How much are you spreading in an evening ?
    Honestly throwing a couple bags of cal in the hopper while your dumping bags is not that hard. If your only doing limited amounts of salt, its the easiest.

    As far as the charge, you have to educate the client. Upselling is a *****, especially when every Mexican with a shovel will throw shovels of salt out of the back of a pickup for pennies.
    Cold weather cost more to keep pavement black period. Let your clients know that. I charge per application, and will go up to double the product with out an upcharge. It evens out in March when I put down 300 pounds on an acre.
    If your charging per bag, let them know it will take more product to get good results.
    IMO honesty is your best policy, so dont be afraid to talk with your clients.
  12. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,256

    I'llPlowYou, you out there?

    Subscribed, now I need some sleep.
  13. jomama45

    jomama45 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,190

    Boy, you really miss that fella, don't you? :rolleyes:
  14. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    I am going to go out on a limb here, but I am pretty sure Mark is being facetious :drinkup:
    There getting pounded over there in Lake Effect land pretty good now. When I talked to him today, he said they were not sure what to do for de-icing if the temps dropped below twenty :laughing: :jester:
  15. Wayne Volz

    Wayne Volz Senior Member
    Messages: 694

    This works

    We use this mix all the time to get the melt started. We've done this for 20 years and yes it does work. It actually takes about 7% cal or mag. by volume to get the melt going. At 10 degrees or below, 20% by volume will work volumes and melt quickly and help with refreeze issues.
  16. readysnowplow

    readysnowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    Wayne does that usually work when the sun is NOT out as well? Normally we plow / salt after hours to be ready for morning business. That sometimes means a 3 or 4am salt. SO with that 3:1 rock salt/mag or calcium chloride mix does that work then in your experience?
  17. readysnowplow

    readysnowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    Okay, one last question (maybe). Would it help if I get a few 50lb "blocks" of Brine from Lowes or Home Depot and crush them up and mix them with the rock salt? Would that help to make the salt work better in colder temps and during those early morning hours when there is no sun? I'm looking for a cheap way to break up that bed of ice that sometimes happens here in Chicago.
  18. flyweed

    flyweed Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    what's a 50lb block of brine? Brine is the slurry that water and salt when mixed together make.

  19. readysnowplow

    readysnowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    Morton's sells a block of white crystal brine at Lowe's. I was wondering if this was the same thing
  20. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162

    Those are for putting in a water softener.