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Salt, Sand, or Both?

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by Green Boys Lawn, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. Green Boys Lawn

    Green Boys Lawn Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    I'm new to this, and we don't get a whole lot of frozen precip around here, so customers don't really seem to know what they want or need. I get people asking for me to apply salt or ice melt. Others want sand, and some want both. What do you guys do? Do you always apply a sand/salt mix, or is there times when just one or the other should be applied. Also, how much should I apply per say 1,000 sq. ft.? Thanks
  2. Mick

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

    Ice management is a tricky subject. First, I'd advise giving the customer what he/she wants, if it fits with the equipment and material at your disposal and that you have educated the customer on the benefits/limitations of each product (and that's supposing that you know in the first place).

    Briefly, salt (or an ice-melt product) should be on any surface other than dirt or gravel. Sand (or a sand/salt mix) should be used on gravel or dirt surfaces. Salt can be used as an anti-icer or a de-icer. Anti-icing is putting down salt before it snows to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the surface. Anti-icing is putting salt on top of snow and ice. It will take more salt to do the job as an anti-icer than a de-icer. But there is the risk that an event will come as rain which will simply melt the salt and be a wasted expense. Some contractors would eat this expense, some do not.

    Many contractors are going more to salt and away from sand because of the benefits of salt (melting). Customers see the benefit is salt in reduced mess to property (salt melts, but sand is forever), less risk (fewer slick spots) and no Spring cleanup costs.

    Then you have the subject of treated salt, to improve effectiveness or reduce corrosiveness or both.

    Using a sand/salt mix is sometimes just for the benefit of the contractor. By mixing salt with the sand, each is prevented from freezing into an unmanageable lump. Increasing the salt to sand ratio increases the melting action. Sand will have zero melting action. A one to nine (salt to sand) ratio will provide sufficient protection against freezing. About one to four will give some good melting action. Then up to straight salt. The main factor here is what is the customer willing to pay for. If you're using a truck mounted spreader, it's generally it's not economically feasible to provide more than one level of sanding/salting service. If the majority of your accounts are in areas with gravel/dirt roads and driveways, then a sand/salt pile is in order. You might keep some bagged salt with a push spreader on hand. On the other hand, if you have mostly paved driveways, salt is in order. For some areas and applications, treated salt is in order.

    As far as application rates, this will vary widely based on the product you are using and the circumstances - such as temperatures, south or north facing, sunny or cloudy, pre- or post-treatment, traffic pattern, snow or ice packed and thickness. Using a sand/salt mix on a hardpack private road, I have used from 1/4 yard to a whole yard for the same half mile.
  3. Duracutter

    Duracutter Senior Member
    from Canada
    Messages: 200

    Great advice. I see it this way. Give the customer what he wants. If it means clean up in spring, good, it's more catching...payup

    Why do all the thinking for the customer? Sure, some are really smart, and they'll do it the right way, otherwise, do it safe and build in some extra work... why not?
  4. gene gls

    gene gls PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 481

    If you run straight salt, don't leave it setting in the spreader for any length of time ( days ). It will absorb condensation and turn into chunks that you will have to shovel out.
  5. murray83

    murray83 Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Great advise all around on a topic that even pro's second guess,but a quick related thought is since you seem to be a landscaper mention to your clients about spring lot sweeping payup in some areas its very profitable so keep that in mind.

    Also to everyone else,have you noticed the cost of sand rising in any of your regions?