Deicer brings more carryover, less hassle in Kane County, Ill.

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Finding the right deicing product was a trial-and-error process for the Kane County Division of Transportation in suburban Chicago.

“For years we used a sand/salt mix with calcium chloride, but the calcium was very corrosive to our equipment,” said Bill Edwards, maintenance superintendent for the county.

As an irritant, adding sand to the mix soon became hazardous as well, and sand additionally left a mess along curbs and gutters that made for costly and time-consuming cleanup in the spring.

“We got away from the sand/salt/calcium chloride mix and went to straight salt, but then we had new issues to deal with,” Edwards said. “It didn’t store very well, and we had a lot of clumping in our spreaders. It wasn’t as effective in temperatures at 15° and lower, and there wasn’t the [residual effect] we were familiar with. We were out there reapplying all the time.”

That’s when Edwards and Kane County found themselves at a crossroads. Their winter road maintenance routine simply wasn’t effective enough.

“We were at a point where we either had to commit to prewetting and equip all our trucks with tanks and purchase a brine maker, or we could see what other deicer products were out there we could use without re-equipping our fleet,” Edwards said.

At that point in time, Edwards ran across an article in a trade publication about a product called ClearLane enhanced deicer made by Cargill Deicing Technology . He decided to try it out.

“That was at least eight years ago,” he recalled. “We got a few loads and dedicated a couple of routes to just that product. We noticed a faster melting process, longer [residual effect], and it stuck to the pavement better than straight salt. We’ve been using it on all our roads ever since.”

The deicer product used by Edwards is a salt product that is different from raw rock salt because it contains a prewetting agent and coloring agent. These chemical additives help keep roads clear by providing a faster reaction time, longer residual effects and also protect distribution equipment from damp salt corrosion.

“We noticed the carryover [residual] effect right away,” he said. “And we found it stored a lot better. We didn’t have as many frozen clumps in our stockpiles, which made it easier and faster to load trucks. Less clumping made it easier on the spreaders for distribution as well. And because it’s less corrosive, our equipment held up a lot better too.”

Even at extremely low temperatures, distributing the deicer is much easier than untreated salt because the product remains free-flowing. It also adheres to the road surface more effectively than dry salt, providing more efficient deicing by minimizing scatter from wind and traffic.

As an additional benefit, the product is delivered directly to the storage facilities, which makes for easier storage and loading.

“We have three yards throughout the county where our trucks can reload,” Edwards said. “We can have our deicing product delivered directly to each yard and it is ready to go. All we have to do is push it in the storage sheds and load it in a truck when needed.”

Maintaining over 750 paved lane-miles, Kane County uses about 12,000 tons of the product during an average season.

And while their trial-and-error process led them to a winter maintenance deicing product that works, a couple of years ago circumstances forced them back to using straight salt.

“Two winters ago, when the demand was high for salt, we went back to spreading straight salt,” Edwards said. “That winter reassured us there was a difference with the enhanced deicer product. With straight salt, we were losing our [residual effect]. We were getting calls about slippery roads, and we’d have to go out and reapply.”

“That experience was worth it, because it reassured us that using the enhanced deicer product was the right solution for us,” he concluded. “We couldn’t get it back on the roads fast enough after that season.”

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