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Salt overuse?

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by sherwin, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. sherwin

    sherwin Member
    Messages: 46

    Here's my thinking. We keep hearing and talking about salt shortages and high prices. Could we help alleviate some of this, by cutting back on how much we use? I would say probably 9 out of 10 guys around here put down 2-3 times as much as is really needed. Not only after the storm, but guys going out ahead of the storm making it look like there is already snow with the amount of salt they apply. We as a company have always tried to be frugal with salt, last year by Feb. all we could get was bagged stuff, consequently we found out we could use less than we had been.

    I realize the fear of lawsuits, insurance and such, but there has to be a better solution. As a landscaper also we are feeling the crunch from fuel and the trickle down in all aspects. We try to keep costs to the customer from having to reflect this too much, but it is business and we have to pay it, the end consumer has to cover our costs. All of our contracts are structured to fluctuate with salt prices, in years past we just went with the flow. This year we sent out letters and are trying to educate our customers on the reasons for salt use, and the different circumstances which arise during storms that affect it's use. We are informing them of the situation both economically and environmentally, and our need to work closely together to monitor sites, and be more judicious with specific areas. I would like to here some of your thoughts on this, I understand we all have different situations, needs and sites, and maybe some ideas will come from this that positively affect our ice management practices.
  2. jfjcontracting

    jfjcontracting Member
    Messages: 40

    I agree, I also cut back and realized just how much salt i was actually just wasting. I cut way back saved more money and began to explore other avenues of de-icing that has really made me relize that i can get the job done more cost effective than in the past and due the same amount if not less work.
  3. Bruce'sEx

    Bruce'sEx Senior Member
    Messages: 873

    We try to use the right amount, sometimes thats hard baised on weather conditions and traffic on the lot. We don't have salt shortage problem or price problem really. Not yet atleast. The other issue is people want bare lots, and no law-suits. so you do what you have to.
  4. SnowMatt13

    SnowMatt13 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,559

    Sherwin......that's right, educate, educate, educate.
    Especially the drivers/employees that use it. There still is a strong mentatily of "the more the better" Knowing how much to put down and when is key. Pavement temperature sensors are a great thing. I am in the municipal side of plowing and so many drivers are uneducated on how to salt. It isn't as easy as plow and turn the spreader on. I adjusted our salting practices and brought in and have grown a successful program using liquids and we are using half the dry material we were per the average event than we were 5 years ago. But everyone has to believe in what they are doing AND give the salt/liquid time to do their thing. One of our biggest problems is that people want instant results, even if it is 5 degrees outside.
  5. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,215

    I agree, when there are shortages we learn how to be more efficient. I admit that my contracts that include hauling off site, I will salt very heavy. Melts more snow, so less to push and haul. Its still cost efficient, and the results look better. I do feel as a responsible contractor I should find newer more cost efficient ways of clearing snow. So I to am looking into pretreat and liquids. Its the main reason I bought a snow melter to cut costs of hauling.

    I don't think we are the real cause of the shortages. Its mainly the muni, and the dot that have horded all the salt. We are basically standing in line for left overs, and scraps.
  6. jfjcontracting

    jfjcontracting Member
    Messages: 40

    Any of you guys in canada able to sell some salt to me. I have to the means to pick it up?? Depending on how close you are to me. Im near detroit.

    Sorry about getting off subject just had to ask

    thanks jim jfjcontracting@aol.com
  7. Jay brown

    Jay brown PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,783

    in the past i have always used treated salt (geomelt...sugat beet) and last year i swithched my spreaders over to prewetting at the chute with Geomelt S ( sugar beet w/ sodium in it to help it flow through the nozzles).if i were guessing i would say that it saves apx 50% of salt usage.... EVERYONE here uses treated/ pre wetted salt, our distributor sold 1 mil gallon last year
  8. ServiceOnSite

    ServiceOnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 950

    as far as salting goes my experience is kinda limited on knowledge. plow the lot then put down the salt, move on to next lot. period. now with the salt crunch here im looking for another alternative. cant sand here, what up with liquids. i dont know the first thing about them. how much more money is the equipment and what the down side? if it were just all positives why dosent every one do it? there has to be a draw back right?
  9. Jay brown

    Jay brown PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,783

    the prewet system on our big box is a Salt Dogg and cost about $4k and the other one on the small box is basically home-made from ag sprayer parts......the Geomelt i spray costs about $2.5/gal FOB, and put on about 4-8 gal/ton. i think it saves about 30-50% in salt.
  10. ServiceOnSite

    ServiceOnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 950

    but what are the drawbacks to this type of setup???
  11. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,249

    I agree the shortage isn't a result of overuse, but it sure doesn't help. It also makes us look bad.

    I am amazed whenever I travel east, by the time I hit Lansing and then into Detroit parking lots are white with salt from the first snowfall to about June. (a little exaggeration) Yes, they overapply every time. Ever been to Chicago during the winter? Every road and expressway is the same way, white with salt, it's truly ridiculous. And there is no reason for it.

    Dale Keep had an article regarding chemical usage where he stated that customers have got to understand that there are times where black and wet is just not a reasonable expectation. Which comes back to education. Of the customer AND our employees.
  12. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    well heres the biggest reason its over used,.... you cant beevery were at once,,, iff you let the snow pack down, then your going to use a lot of it, so you need to pre-treat

    additionally, you need to start using the proper chemical... not just rock salt on your parking lots...

    i see so many guys on cold days around here, just keep spreading rock salt.... your wasting your product.....i know we all dont have the time, but the proper thing to do, is to use mag, or cal. on those cold days.. either buy having a liquid prewet, or by just opening up 8 -50lbs baggs and "blending" it with your rock salt...

    when we ran out of salt last year, i think there were 2 storms that we were using a tri-blend, on a few smaller lots... it was arpund $6 per bag.... and we had to push spread it... but ill tell you i was amazed at how fare 150lbs would go.... i think that we used half the amount as normal... which propably ment it was cheaper than spreading rock
  13. Jay brown

    Jay brown PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,783

    i can't think of one......it's a win win situation as far as i am concerned...
  14. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162

    roads are white in the winter thats a fact of life

    generally you have a snow event while it is relativly warm, you plow you salt it melts then it turns cold and the pavement turns white it isnt necessarly overuse
  15. ServiceOnSite

    ServiceOnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 950

    could you pm or email me some info on the products that you use???
    Josh@diamondconcretewny.com thanks
  16. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,249

    Really, the only time my customers' lots are white is because of snow or overapplication of salt. And about the only times the roads by me are white because of salt residue is when it is very cold and the Road Commission overapplies to compensate for those temperatures because they're too ignorant to pretreat their salt.

    It can also occur if there is a very low moisture content snow, as in lake effect, but we are working on ways of preventing this.

    If salt is applied in the correct amounts, you should have no residue left, this is the remaining salt that was not used to prevent the freezing of water on the lot.

    On the other hand, as I stated, every time I have been in Chicago, Lansing, Detroit during the winter every road, highway and parking lot is white with salt. 9 times out of 10 the parking lots have the salt granules laying in them, not just salt dust.

    We work very hard at not overapplying because it makes us look bad and is not good for the environment.
  17. powerjoke

    powerjoke PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,341

    youre gonna have to use a better analogy for me, cause i still don't get it. WHY should roads be white in the winter time?.....it's our job as Snow contractors to prevent that from happening, wether it be from salt or snow.

  18. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,707

    Over salting, it's one of the great debates of opinion and perspective. We are all guilty of it at times, sometimes even by design. I think cretebaby is correct when he states that just because you see white doesn't necessarily mean it's over salted. You will see staining and salt dust more pronounced under certain weather conditions on all treated asphalt.

    It's difficult, sometimes impossible to achieve the perfect ap because of salter capabilities and operator intentions or error. But this is always the customers expectations and our goal. Most likely it is still snowing after the ap goes down, and a judgment call by the operator to put enough down to burn off whats there and enough to fend off whats falling based on the current forecast and conditions.

    When I get those complaints, and if it is so, I will tell the customer (after inspecting) that yes indeed we over salted. Admit when you make a mistake.........but let them know not to get too excited. Salt does have an unlimited shelf life and the residue may and can fend off the next set of flurries preventing a future ap.