After more than 40 years in the snowfighting industry, Frank Dedon has witnessed his share of winter maintenance products. Experimenting with a variety of deicers over the years, including molasses-treated salt and salt mixed with various liquids, Dedon found many deicing products to be ineffective, labor-intense and costly.
“There were some serious problems with bees and wasps when we tried molasses,” he said. “If you’re allergic to bee stings, our facility was not the place to be. Plus, it leached a syrupy liquid that couldn’t have been good for the environment and the leaching decreased the effectiveness of the salt.”
At the helm of Abraxus Salt in Cleveland, Ohio, Dedon and his contracting business provide private winter maintenance services for more than 150 commercial properties throughout the state. They also serve as a distributor of deicing products to 500-plus private contractors throughout the country. As a result, safety, effective melting and economical practices are top concerns.
“Mixing salt with deicing liquid was a pretty ineffective process that didn’t provide great results,” Dedon said. “You have to mix it like cake batter; you have to spray the salt, turn it with a loader and then spray it again, but you rarely get a very consistent mix, which leads to inconsistent melting.”
As the deicing product selection continued to grow within the industry, Dedon soon discovered a pre-mixed enhanced deicing product from Cargill Deicing Technology. Called ClearLane enhanced deicer, the product is a pre-mixed salt product that’s different than regular rock salt because it contains a pre-wetting agent. Made with chemical and natural additives, the pre-wet feature helps clear roads by providing a faster reaction time, longer residual effects and less leaching.
“Unlike the molasses blend, there’s virtually no leaching with this deicer,” Dedon said. “And it’s pre-mixed with the wetting additive before they ship it to us, which saves us time and labor costs.”
Dedon and his team of contractors use the deicing product on sidewalks, roads and parking lots for a number of commercial businesses, including shopping malls, hospitals, medical offices, and various industrial and manufacturing facilities with 24-hour operations.
“At places like hospitals and factories, they’re running a 24-hour workforce,” he said. “These facilities need a deicer that’s going to work late at night and early in the morning during shift changes and periods of high activity or heavy transit traffic.”
While the days of molasses and onsite mixing are long past for Abraxus Salt, the non-leaching features and non-mixing requirements continue to make the deicing product appealing. Dedon noted, however, that the effective melting characteristics and greater residual properties are still the most important attributes.
“My job is to provide safe passage,” Dedon said.