Liquid De-icers: A Growing Trend
For those in the ice and snow removal profession, technology can be a wonderful thing. They are always looking for a piece of equipment or product capable of reducing their time and cost to perform their job. Ice melts and deicers have been available for decades. More recently, companies are using a specific type of deicer, one in liquid form.
What Are Liquid Deicers?
Liquid deicers are a liquid form of ice melt. They act in a specific fashion. Their role is to be an anti-icer. In other words, by applying liquid deice to the surface of roads, sidewalks, walkways, patios, and similar constructions before a storm hits, a professional service can prevent snow and ice from adhering.
However, some companies also utilize them in combination with rock salt. They spray it onto the surface of the material as it is leaving the truck. The brine-rock salt combination creates a practical liquid deicer that is more effective than beet juice (or other liquid) and rock salt do alone. Research indicates beet juice does not act as an effective deicer alone; it works best as an enhancer of other deicers – liquid or solid.
Who Uses Liquid Deicers?
Only a few commercial companies use liquid deicers. However, several municipalities do employ some form of liquid deicer – often in the form of beet juice. However, pickle brine, potato juice, and even cheese often form the basis for agriculturally-based mixes. They apply it using spraying equipment to roads when they are made aware of the approach of a storm. Among the cities using or at least trying out some form of anti-icer are:
· Calgary, Alberta
· Regina Saskatchewan
· Montreal Quebec
· Fort Collins Colorado
· Waconia Minnesota
· Prior Lake Minnesota
Provinces and States also are experimenting or implementing this practice, including British Columbia, Ontario (parts), New Jersey, Colorado (parts), Tennessee, Minnesota (parts) and Wisconsin
The Advantages of Using a Liquid Anti-icer
Liquid anti-icers offer several advantages over the regular ice melts and products, including rock salt. These consist of the following:
· Requires Fewer Amounts/Road Longevity: While rock salt lies on the surface of the pavement, asphalt, or other façades, it is easily knocked off or even blown away – an effect referred to in research as deicer bounce. On the roads, cars quickly send rock salt flying. In fact, research indicates it can take as little as the passing of five vehicles to remove as much as 80% of a rock salt-sand combination. This leads to extensive damage of the nearby environment as well as the need to lay the material on with a heavy hand
In contrast, a spray of liquid anti-icer goes beneath the surface of the road. It penetrates into the pores, therefore remaining in place longer. This makes it more effective. It also requires less, therefore no salt overkill.
· Saves Time: Using a liquid deicer saves time spent on the roads. It also reduces the time spent on actual snow plowing by ensuring the roads are prepped for this task.
· Speeds up the Process: Using a pre-spray of liquid deicer with rock salt helps to speed up the melting process.
· Produces a Cleaner Finish: For those clearing sidewalks, the application of a liquid deicer before a storm produces better surface conditions for the operators. It allows their machines to scrape clear down to the surface with greater ease.
· Cost-Effective: While liquid deicers are more expensive than other kinds of ice melt and deicer, they make up for this by reducing labor, time, and effort. It is more efficient and requires less material than the alternatives. If a snow removal agency takes into consideration all the factors influencing the cost of their business, it becomes obvious which method is actually going to save the business money over the long-haul.
Liquid deicers are available commercially. Many states and municipalities are pre-treating their roadways using a combination of rock salt and beet brine. Research clearly indicates this is a method that is effective and cost-effective. More snow removal operators should consider this as a viable option, providing the circumstances and various applicable factors make the process practical and feasible.