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Thoughts About Using Winter Sand

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by Winterologist, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. Winterologist

    Winterologist Junior Member
    Messages: 23

    Many use sand or grit (#8's, #9's) for traction in winter. The cost and positive effects seem obvious - however, consider the following ...
    - .Sand fills storm sewers
    - Catch basin cleaning
    - Sand erodes storm sewers
    - Premature replacement
    - Sand entering storm sewers system is eventually deposited into rivers
    - Dredging of river
    - Sand collects along gutter line
    - Spring sweeping
    - Hazard to bicyclist and motorcyclists
    - Sand particles are picked up by tires and become airborne
    - Broken/damaged windshields
    - Removes paint from vehicles,
    - Subjecting exposed metal to corrosion
    - Unless it sticks to the roadway, sand is subject to being blown off by 3rd to 7th passing vehicle
    - Very short life
    - Sand accumulates off on the roadside
    - Cross-section altered, drainage effected, restoration eventually needed
    - Traffic diminishes sand=s abrasive quality (Shape becomes spherical)
    - Reduced safety because spherical particles act like marbles under tires, reducing friction to that of un-sanded pavement
    - Dirties up roadside
    - Aesthetic environment diminished
    - Fines generated from being driven on become airborne
    - Air pollution, violation of clean air act standards, health hazards, etc
    - Untreated sand freezes in stockpile and will not flow though sand spreaders
    - Pre-mixing sand with salt is necessary when stockpiling
    - Because of its color, sand gives motorist a false sense of security
    - Possible increase in accidents due to vehicles driven faster than conditions warrant

    *Sand is cost effective only when it adheres to the road, like embedded in compacted snow or ice. Only with adhesion to the road does sand have the ability to provide improved abrasiveness that, in turn, leads to enhanced friction.

    Recent National studies calculate the use / damage / clean-up costs at over $500 / ton (for government agencies that must deal with it). That's a whopping difference in REAL cost-to-use sand vs those that don't have to deal with it after its use (or don't care since they don't have to pay for it. No doubt, these numbers were probably generated by more urban settings vs rural BUT in the end alot of people / equipment / infrastructure / and environment are taking the hit regarding sand use. Sand vs Chemicals? The debate continues!
  2. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    There are some interesting thought there. I agree with most, some seem to overlap the same basic concept. I do quite a bit of sanding as part of my snow removal routine. There are places where sand is the only option. Gravel roads/lots in particular. And in extreme cold temps you get instant traction, and it will last for quite a while.
  3. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    I haven't been around lately and I do agree...The debate continues!:waving:
  4. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    sand etc.

    I honestly feel vindicated by the previous honored members postings
    regarding the use of sand.

    One of the major issues with salt use is freeze and thaw and
    refreeze resulting in damage around storm drain catch basins
    as they are always on the recieving end of the salt spread on
    the road ending along the street or road gutter diverting run off
    water that is SALTED.

    The salt catches around the edge of the basins and curbing
    and dissolves into curbing cracks and separators, the asphault
    mat surrounding the concrete catch basin and then the fun begins
    with expansion from freeze and refreeze of the water in the ground
    surrounding the catch basin.:nod:

    The major thing with the use of salt is that it always, always, always
    ends up in the surface water that leaves the catch basin or the
    combined sewer lines that go to the sewage treatment plant and
    said SALT always damages the sewage treatment plant and
    affects the sewage treatment plants ability to grow the bugs needed
    to render the sewage sludge harmless and create the methane to
    provide the heat to power the anerobic sludge digester to kill off
    all the bad bugs in the treated sewage waste rendering it harmless.

    The salt water runoff entering streams is also saltier than sea water
    which affects the oxygen levelin fresh water which in turn affects and
    stresses fresh water fish and their habitats and breeding streams.

    With sand being 4-6 dollars a ton all I ever see is plusses with respect
    to maintenance costs.

    If a public works department is doing its job they are using sucker
    trucks every year to clean the catch basins in their district as a matter
    of principle.

    The other thing is salt will accumulate in the catch basins and continue
    to accumulate until it gets warm out and the salt water evaporates and
    will become more concentrated in the catch basins and eventually the
    concentrated salt water spills out into the fresh water storm sewer lines
    adding more salt to the fresh water run off entering your rivers and lakes
    and during the the high water times it adds more salt to the surface water
    adding even more chlorides to drinking water if it is drawn from surface
    waters. The added chlorides must be removed with reverse osmosis and
    it is much more expensive to treat drinking water to remove chlorides and then
    dispose of the filtration media used as it is highly toxic waste.


    The other 5,000 pound canary with regard to salt use is something that
    is always overlooked and never talked about because of the desired
    bare roads policy; this is the amount of total heat energy generated by the
    chemical reaction which occurs when the halite or other melter contacts
    the snow and ice.

    The amount of heat created by the chemical reaction is massive over time
    and I have stopped along the side of the road when a salt truck went by
    and you can actually feel the heat created at chest level by the chemical
    reaction created when the Halite contacts the snow that has been pushed
    back by a plow or wing. I wish I had had a thermometer with me but it sure
    felt like 60 degrees right over the snow that washed pushed aside and splattered
    with the excess halite they always spread. This also is evident in the freeze
    thaw cycles with halite and is compounded with the low temperature
    ice melters also in use. So you get what you pay for.
  5. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,584

    So... We know that in the winter, water gets into cracks, freezes, expands, then pops the concrete or pavement... Why is it the sand proponents always want us to believe that water wont get into cracks, freeze, expand, and pop the concrete or pavement without salt's "help"? :confused:

    My customers expect safe conditions as quickly as possible after the event, that's what they're paying us for. This can be accomplished with chlorides, it can't be with sand. It's really that simple. Thumbs Up
  6. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    sand and salt

    Its not my fault that they insist on bare pavement where sand applied at a high level accomplishes trhe same thing at less lost.

    I never stated that; it all comes down to the simple laws of physics
    involving freeze thaw cycles and melt water and chemical reactions
    with the contact of Halite with snow and ice.

    If more sand is used the greater amount traction is available; bare pavement
    is desired simply because people do not wear the proper foot wear expecting
    not to need it which only adds to the problem wherein you have people wearing
    tennis shoes and sandals and flip flops the year round and they dont know any better.

    If more sand is used you have no massive build ups of heat energy that
    will affect pavement and concrete due to the chemical reaction of Halite
    contacting snow and ice.

    The use of Halite and other ice melters only complicates this issue where sand is
    both inert and a traction aid at the same time and these two facts cannot be faulted
    by anyone with a legitimate opposing statement.

    I cant help but laugh at this as these businesses dont want to clean up after sand being tracked into their foyers and yet they have salt tracked into their businesses and it destroys the wax finish and the linoleum on the floors.
  7. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,584

    Are you in the snow and ice control business or the sandbox construction business? You can't be serious that applying a massive quantity of sand produces the same end result in the same amount of time as chemicals alone! :dizzy:

    MIDTOWNPC PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,554

    mix the chemicals with the sand.
    melts the snow / ice. gives traction
    and you get to sweep it up too payup
  9. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,584

    And lose the account while you're at it. Great idea! :dizzy:

    Guess my customers have too high of expectations. Thumbs Up
  10. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,747

    I'm not taking sides here Wiz, just want to answer your question because I've been faced with it before from customers.

    Senario1: A city in a cold climate that is usually below freezing all winter. Maybe 25 days the entire winter will be over 32 degrees. No salts are applied.

    In the above senario, there will be 25 days where the temps get warm enough to melt snow, and at night there will be re-freeze. So 25 melt/freeze cycles.​

    Senario2: Same as Senario1, but now salts are applied after each storm. (30 apps/season)

    In this Senario, there will be a minimum of 55 melt/freeze cycles, 30 directly caused from the use of salt, and 25 from days over 32*. But there will actually be a few extra cycles caused from the residual salt on the surface. Say the residual salt is enough to melt snow at 25 degrees, so now you must count all the days the temp is over 25* as a day causing a melt/freeze cycle. So 55-75 cycles estimated for the winter.​

    The salt simply caused the ability for more cycles in a winter.

    I do agree with you Wiz, that no amount of sand will melt ice or snow. And that salt, and other melting agents, are required to quickly melt ice and achieve high standards for customers.
  11. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,584

    Steve, salt changes the freezing point of water. In your scenario above, the 25 days that get above freezing, and below freezing at night, the moisture in the surface may contain salt if there's any moisture left after the days warmth, so unless the low temp drops real low, there won't be freeze of the moisture as the salt is preventing it. So while I see how you came up with this, I don't see how salt increases the number of freeze that cycles, as on the warmer nights the salt will prevent the freeze cycle. Salt merely changes the temp at which moisture freezes, it doesn't necessarily increase the number of freeze/thaw cycles.
  12. TPC Services

    TPC Services Senior Member
    Messages: 875

    Go hug a tree you might feel better!!!! I bet your one of those people that thinking killing animals for food is wrong!! :dizzy: