Using ice melting compounds to clear snow and ice from walks, drives, and entries near public buildings is virtually a universal practice today. Facility maintenance personnel learned long ago that to achieve safe surfaces in the shortest time with the least total cost, ice melters are a necessity.
Rock salt is the most effective and economical material available for melting road snow and ice. The timely application of rock salt has been proven to pay for itself many times over in both increased public safety and actual economic savings. A recent Standard and Poor’s DRI study of 12 northeastern states, including New York, found that $526.5 million a day in federal, state, and local tax revenues would be lost if impassable roadways paralyzed the region. This figure greatly exceeds the $518.7 million typically spent on snow and ice removal by the 12 northeastern states for the entire winter season. The report further states that lost taxes are not the biggest impact. A crippling snowstorm costs $1.4 billion per day in unearned wages and $600 million per day in lost retail sales.
Rock salt – sodium chloride or NaCL – has remained an industry standard due to its ability to melt ice at temperatures down to its eutectic point of -6° F (-21° C). And, because the most important variable of a deicer’s effectiveness is not air temperature but pavement temperature, rock salt continues to be an effective deicer in many US locations during most of the winter season.
To melt ice, salt lowers the freezing point of water. When rock salt is applied properly, small amounts of salt partially melt the ice and form a brine solution. This solution flows under the ice and breaks the bond between the ice and the pavement. This enables the snow plows to remove the ice from the roads.