Enhanced deicer makes roadways safer and equipment last longer

Is it possible to make a roadway deicer that works fast, but doesn’t corrode equipment? In a word, “yes” said George Martin, superintendent of streets for the city of Spearfish, S.D.

“We had deicing equipment that was extremely corroded from road salt. In fact, we were about to throw some of it away,” said Martin. “Then we switched to a new deicing product, and years later that same equipment is still in use, with no increased corrosion or damage. The deicing product we’re using just isn’t as corrosive.”

The city started using a new deicer about five years ago, and at the time, they had experimented with three or four different products. The deicer they selected is called ClearLane enhanced deicer and is produced by Cargill Deicing Technology. The product is a salt product that is different from raw rock salt because it contains a prewetting agent and coloring agent.

“There are a lot of benefits to that stuff,” Martin said. “It works better and it has a better price. And I like that it’s faster working at lower temperatures. The deicer is a bit coarser, giving it a bit more abrasion as it starts to melt.”

The coarseness of the deicer product also helps it adhere to the road surface more effectively than dry salt, providing more efficient deicing by minimizing scatter from wind and traffic. And keeping scatter off the roadsides also leads to environmental benefits.

“Not long ago a local student conducted leaching tests on the local river,” Martin said. “After a heavy snowstorm we applied about 150 tons of the product to a 6-mile stretch of road that ran next to the river. After application, the student couldn’t find any measurable amount of chlorides in the river water. The product didn’t leach into the environment.”

As well as the nonleaching characteristics, the chemical additives in the deicer help keep roads clear by providing a faster reaction time, longer residual effects and protect distribution equipment from damp salt corrosion. Along with vehicle protection from corrosion, the city was pleased with the residual effects of the deicer.

“We’ve had times when we applied the deicer, plowed the roads and then had another snowfall occur shortly after plowing,” Martin said. “That’s when we’ve noticed that the ice and snow begins melting before we’ve even reapplied the product.”

With approximately 150 paved lane-miles to tend to, Spearfish typically applies between 300 and 400 tons of the enhanced deicer each year. However, this year, the city upped its usage to 500 tons and expects to continue ordering that quantity in the future.

As a result of the new deicer’s corrosion protection characteristics, he doesn’t expect to retire any of their application vehicles anytime soon.