Today: March 25, 2017, 1:02 am

Liquid de-icing: the new tool in gritting

As we head towards winter, it seems that nationwide gritting service companies are gearing up to keep roads and public areas safe from ice and snow. 2016-12-14 14:09:41
As we head towards winter, it seems that nationwide gritting service companies are gearing up to keep roads and public areas safe from ice and snow. To stay ahead of the competition companies are always looking for new methods that might benefit their efforts to battle the elements. One technique some are looking at is that of liquid de-icing. This method uses brine (any salt/water solution) as the de-icing agent, which is sprayed directly on to the surface.

So how can this newer technique compliment the traditional gritting methods currently used? Traditional grit is actually made up of a mixture of rock/marine salt and crushed up grit. The salt has the same composition as table salt, but it’s in a slightly different form. Grit works by dissolving salt into the ice turning it from water (which has a freezing point of 0oC) into a brine solution (which has a freezing point of anywhere down to about -10oC depending on the concentration of salt). The grit is a mixture of sand and stones which helps to dissolve the salt when driven or walked over and also helps provide traction on slippery surfaces.

The problem with applying grit is that you are working reactively. If the surface is dry the grit will likely be dispersed by cars, pedestrians or even strong winds. The only way to avoid this is to lay down the grit after the ice has started to form.

With brine you have the option of a more proactive approach. When you spray brine, it stays put where you spray it. This means that gritting contractors can lay down a layer of brine when ice is predicted ready to start working as soon as the ice starts to form. One drawback to this approach is that any rain will scupper your well laid plans. Rainfall will dilute your solution, raising the melting point rendering the process pointless.

Another option for contractors is to combine the use of both traditional grit and brine. A technique called pre-wetting is when the rock salt is wet with a liquid as it is being laid down. By doing this the salt has a tendency to stick where you put it.

It pretty clear that liquid de-icing will never replace traditional methods, but they do offer a valuable option for gritting contractors. Both traditional gritting methods and liquid de-icing have their limitations, but used in the right circumstances or together, they can be very useful.

About the author:

James Goodstadt is the Communications Manager for Mitie Landscapes. Mitie Landscapes has been in operation since 2002 and sits within Mitie’s larger facilities management business. The business is responsible for maintaining over 6,000 client sites throughout the UK, and its winter gritting service carries out over 100,000 gritting visits per year.

Press Information
Mitie Landscapes
1 Harlequin Office Park, Fieldfare, Emersons Green


Tim Howell
managing director
0845 869 7900

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