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Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Scoop on salt

01/23/2008 - Many people are familiar with the winter staple rock salt (calcium chloride) for preventing or melting ice and snow build-up on roads and walkways. This chemical makes travel safer for millions of people every year. What a lot of people do not know is that rock salt in its regular form is most effective when the temperature hovers at or about freezing. If the mercury dips below 30 F (0 Celsius), the salt will not work as quickly or effectively. That's because colder air tends to be drier, and rock salt needs moisture to work to its full potential. For this reason, many road maintenance and snow-removal crews rely on a pre-wetting agent applied in conjunction with rock salt, which promotes the decomposition of the rock salt, and in turn, melts the ice and snow better. Studies indicate that using a pre-wetting agent considerably reduces the amount of rock salt that needs to be applied by roughly 25 to 50 percent. This can cut costs for cities and municipalities. It also reduces the detrimental impact rock salt has on perimeter vegetation. Pre-wetting ensures that the salt won't blow around, and by using less rock salt overall, plants and water sources are less affected by salt contamination.

Appalachian Regaional
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