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It’s icy out there, here’s what you should know about road salt

Jan 10, 2024, 9:00 PM

what you should know about road salt...

People are pictured shoveling snow after an overnight storm in Draper on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. It's the season for road salt, but science tells us that some temperatures are a bit too cold for it to actually work. (Marielle Scott/Deseret News)

(Marielle Scott/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s the season for road salt, but science tells us that some temperatures are a bit too cold for it to actually work.

Road salt– the anti-slip savior for this time of year reduces the freezing temperature of water, so we can walk and drive safely in the icy cold. However, Seth Ellingford with road salt supplier Ice Slicer said some temperatures are a bit too intense for certain kinds of road salt.

The industry has adapted to that, but he said it’s important to recognize what kinds of road chemicals to use for ultimate effectiveness.

“Sodium Chloride, it melts (ice) at 28 F.,” he said. “Potassium Chloride can melt at 12 F. Magnesium chloride can melt at -5 F. Calcium Chloride can melt at -25 F.”

Ellingford said state and government snow removal processes are very aware of the temperature limits. They are stocked up on all the right salts for the right temperatures.

For us regular people, he advised paying attention to the labels to make sure our salt works this season.

When salting sidewalks and roads, remember not to use too much. Ellingford said using too much salt isn’t needed and is wasteful.

“You can use very little of it, because it has those naturally occurring chlorides,” he said. “You can put pretty little out and it’s very effective still.”

A little goes a long way, according to Ellingford. Using less will help the environment and your wallet in the long run.

For temperatures lower than -25 F., according to Ellingford, no salt is going to be effective. Luckily, that’s not something Utah really has to worry about.

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It’s icy out there, here’s what you should know about road salt