Traditional brown rock salt is the most widely-known product used for de-icing roads and pedestrian areas. However, different environments and weather conditions make different demands on the products available; choosing the right rock salt or grit salt for the job can make all the difference.
Traditional brown rock salt is the best known grit product in the UK and abroad, despite there being many other salt-based de-icers that have specific environmental advantages in certain conditions.
Rock salt comes in two main forms: brown, which is the most common, and white. The former is used on roads and other large coverage areas like car parks; its colour, given by its clay content, offers reassuring visibility to road users concerned about safe driving.
White rock salt is a purer, cleaner product that leaves minimal residue, particularly useful in areas that have a high footfall travelling from the outside to inside buildings, as well as providing a more aesthetic alternative to de-icing. Examples of locations that would benefit from use of white rock salt over brown are pathways and front door steps, walkways between buildings, and playgrounds.
Some environments have even more specific needs that can be met by using salt de-icer products, in both granular and liquid form. Coarse grade de-icer salt, for example, is another low-residue granular substance, hygienic and recommended for scattering in playgrounds and around building entrances.
Fine grade de-icer salt is similar though has the edge on speed, where time is of the essence to make key areas safe for pedestrians. It is also possible to find suppliers of even finer granular salt products that leave no residue, for the fastest and cleanest gritting of public areas. This type of de-icing salt is so pure it can even be used on artificial turf.
Locations which include equipment made from untreated carbon steel – for example, football stadia – have to be treated with a product specially formulated to be less corrosive than usual methods. Good quality low-corrosive de-icer is proven to be around 60% less harmful to untreated carbon steel than normal rock salt and grit salt.
There are other products available too, including liquids that will remove ice faster and more economically than rock salt, and at far lower temperatures in some cases; and innovative mineral blends which have strong gritting capabilities and are normally utilised when rock salt is in high demand due to sudden and extreme bad weather.
It is apparent, then, that not all salt is created equal; and that it is vital that the right products are used in environments with particular demands for the most effective and economical use of grit salt and de-icers, for the best results, user satisfaction and peace of mind.