Time to shake out the De-icer

Time to shake out the De-icer

My 25 mile commute to work each day is increasingly hazardous with black ice creating treacherous driving on the untreated roads. I nearly went a-o-t on my own door step as the damp in the air crystallised to an invisible ice film on the step paving.

I am certainly not alone, and as the buoyant sales of winter snow and ice safety products demonstrate now is the time to get out the de-icer.  There are some misconceptions on what de-icer to use and how effective the various options are particularly when it comes to roads and paths.

Here’s a quick rundown on the options.

Grit or more rightly grit sand has little or no ice melting capability. It improves grip for vehicles if spread in reasonable quantity but expect it to become frozen into the ice at the next freeze. It is usually sold in bags or in bulk and is difficult to dispense using a pedestrian spreader as the high moisture content makes it prone to clog. It also creates a sludgy residue that can be trodden into carpets.

Road Salt or Rock Salt has a gritty appearance but is not grit but a crushed natural, salt rich, sedimentary “rock”. It works by lowering the freezing temperature of moisture on the road and has to be crushed by the traffic and dissolve to be effective. It becomes less effective much below -5⁰C and virtually ineffective once the temperature gets below -10⁰C. Being a natural product it contains a good percentage of insoluble solids and it is these that combine with the melted ice to form the characteristic brown sludge that is trodden into carpets and cars. It does not suit all pedestrian spreaders so be sure to read the specification before you buy one.

Processed salts, often sold as white de-icing salt, is of much higher purity – some better than 99% salt. Grain size is also uniform which makes them free flowing and easily broadcast using a salt spreader or even a scoop for smaller areas. The high purity means pound for pound (kg for kg) they are far more effective than Rock Salt so spread a good deal further. I think the biggest advantage is that they are clean to apply, leaving little of no residue on the ground.

Proprietary Ice Melts, like our Promelt Winter Wizard are specially formulated combinations of different salts to give fast acting results over a wider range of temperature. Although the most expensive choice the small free flowing granules go further and their effects last longer – up to 24 hours. Although most commonly supplied in sealed tubs and small bags a recent innovation is the Salt Stick which is a pre-packed tube holding 1.5 kg of ice melt with an adjustable dispenser at one end. You use it like a “shake and vac” without the “vac”, (I appreciate some guys will wonder what I am talking about). Benefit is that they are clean, are easily stored indoors and are hassle free.

And one last tip – avoid using table salt – it will work for a little while but it is probably costing you around £1 /m2 whereas a 5kg tub of Winter Wizard will deice 450m2 for under 3 pence /m2 and last a whole lot longer into the bargain.


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