What is de-icing salt

Salt is the most widely used de-icing agent for road maintenance in Europe and is used for:
Anti-icing: This refers to the application of pre-wetted salt or brine to enhance the grip between tyres and the road surface.
De-icing: This applies to the application of dry salt or pre-wetted salt. Depending on the sort of salt used, it is usually heated or diluted. In melting snow, de-icing salt is the most efficient agent as long as the pavement temperature isn’t below -18°C.
Salt is considered the best de-icer due to its properties. It has the power to lower the freezing point of water and therefore prevents a bond between ice and road surfaces.

Salt is also:
- Easy to spread and store
- The least expensive and most efficient deicer on the market
- Readily available in large quantities

The main challenge for winter maintenance lies in a reliable salt supply and storage.

Salt supply and storage

Winter maintenance is an emergency response to unpredictable weather. Effective preparation requires an adequate salt supply near areas where it will be needed most. However, salt shortages can occur for several reasons. Weather conditions can become extreme and climate change may well produce adverse winter conditions, depleting salt stocks more quickly. The salt industry assists authorities in coping with exceptional winter conditions by increasing production levels. However, production has its own limitations. Despite working 24 hour shifts, seven days a week in cold weather, authorities can apply salt faster than salt miners can produce it; Inadequate storage could still lead to a shortage. Furthermore, in countries where weather differs from region to region and from year to year, a major challenge for winter service providers is presented.

Transporting de-icing salt requires time, and winter conditions can slow delivery. Europe has widespread salt deposits and there is usually a local de-icing salt supply that minimises transport costs and environmental impact. However, transport remains a challenge. Being in a position to supply within 48 hours of order depends on the available transport capacity and infrastructure.

Thankfully, salt can be easily stored over long periods without deteriorating. Storage requires a dry, indoor setting to protect it from high levels of humidity, rain or snow. Authorities should aim for salt storage capacity lasting for a full winter and invest in and maintain de-icing salt stock, regardless of winter forecasts. When adequate stocks are built up during the summer months, they will then be prepared for when bad weather arrives.