With winter comes snow and ice. Much of the country will experience some kind of inclement weather during the winter. When this happens, you'll need to be prepared. There are several ways to keep roads and other critical surfaces ice free, including liquid ice control.

Once you understand the capabilities of liquid ice, you’ll see why so many people use it. When you do apply it, there are some tips and tricks to consider. We’ve gathered those for you, so you can keep surfaces ice free with less hassle.

Liquid Ice Control vs. Rock Salt

Liquid ice control can be a much more effective way to prepare surfaces than rock salt. Anti-icing or liquid ice melt decreases the time and cost of removing ice. You can also pre-treat surfaces with liquid ice. While rock salt can be preventative as well, the way it is absorbed is the big difference. Prevention, in this case, is much easier than after storm cleanup.

Liquid anti-icing requires fewer materials than rock salt, which rests on the pavement surface and can be easily knocked off the pavement by automobile traffic. In fact, even light traffic can remove rock salt quickly.

On the other hand, liquid ice penetrates the pores of road surfaces. This material will not be displaced by traffic. Thus, less material is needed to melt the ice, reducing costs and time.

For anti-icing, it's clear that liquid ice control should be your first defense, and rock salt is a secondary material to use.

Liquid Ice-Melting Has a Residual Life

Since liquid ice penetrates the roadway’s surface, it has a residual life in the pavement. The liquid will stay in place on the pavement and be there once the next snowstorm comes your way. Water or rain could wash the material from the pavement, however. Keep this in mind when you decide to reapply.

Higher Price, Better Value

When you purchase liquid ice, you’ll see it is more expensive than rock salt. However, when looking at the total cost of winter weather cleanup, you’ll find that the overall investment in liquid ice is less than rock salt. This is due to the fact that the amount of rock salt required is much greater and must be constantly reapplied. Liquid ice stays on the surface longer.

Applying Liquid Ice Control

While liquid ice control has lots of benefits, they’ll all be lost if it’s not applied properly. Materials have different temperatures and concentrations when they work the best. If you apply it outside of these windows, it won’t work the way in which you expect.

There are freeze point curves that identify the ideal temperatures and concentrations for various products. Look to manufacturers for these tables to plan out how you will treat surfaces.

As the materials melt into water, dilution of the chemical concentration will occur. This renders the material less effective. Be sure to have the performance curve information before you apply any product.

Know the Ground Temperature

Once you understand the ideal temperature for application, you’ll need to know the ground temperature, which is different than the air’s temperature. Use an infrared thermometer to measure ground temperature.

Learn What Works from Experience

The best way to gauge whether the liquid ice control will work is to test it on a small area before covering the entire surface. You can document how well the ice melted then learn from that for the future. You should note:

  • Air temperature
  • Ground temperature
  • Application rate
  • What product is being used
  • The results (Was the ice gone or did it have no effect?)

Monitoring the results of applications helps you perfect your anti-icing efforts, resulting in more efficient operations. Once you have data from your efforts, this information can help you for many winters to come.

De-Icing as a Service

When you offer liquid ice control, you’ll want to educate your customers thoroughly on the differences. Many people are used to seeing the application of salt before or after a storm hits, so this is what they expect from de-icing. The customer may gauge your ability by the amount of salt that is put down.

With liquid materials, there is no residue because the liquid goes into the surface of the pavement. You’ll need to explain how liquid ice control is different and actually more effective than rock salt.

When sharing information about liquid ice control, it may be helpful to create a one-page handout that shows how each method works and why liquid ice control is a better alternative. By informing your customers of the differences, they'll understand that salt isn't really the gold standard for de-icing surfaces.

Winter weather can cause hazardous conditions, so first and foremost, always stay safe as you prepare for storms.

Want more helpful tips just like this one? Subscribe to our blog!