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Why rock salt is bad news for the road network

When the ice and snow roll into town, the first thing that many organisations reach for is the rock salt. It is known for its easy availability, low cost and ability to melt frozen surfaces to make them safer to walk or drive on in sub-zero temperatures. This approach, however, can lead to a great deal of damage and disruption further down the line and really should be avoided. The chemicals contained in rock salt, otherwise known as sodium chloride, can damage concrete, asphalt and other surfaces severely if used repeatedly and over a long length of time, leading to significant financial outlay.

What happens to concrete and asphalt treated with rock salt?

Concrete is a porous material, meaning that it is covered in tiny holes that absorb water – along with the rock salt that has dissolved into it as the surface ice melts back into liquid form. Melting water expands and exerts internal pressure, causing the concrete to crack. Rock salt-infused concrete can contain increased amounts of water, making it much more likely to crack and break up. Freshly laid concrete is even more susceptible to damage as it cannot withstand the pressure as effectively while it is still settling and hardening.asphalt road with cracks

Asphalt fares slightly better, being less porous than concrete; however, any cracks or fissures already on the surface will allow rock salt and water to enter and cause the same internal damage from increased pressure on the material. It can also be affected by freeze-thaw damage, often revealed by bumps, pot holes and faded surface colour. It also becomes more brittle in lower temperatures, making it weaker overall.

The real cost of rock salt

It is estimated that around two million tonnes of rock salt are spread over the UK’s road network annually. This is done to help keep the country’s traffic moving during harsher weather, and to prevent injuries and deaths on the road from snow, frost and ice-based accidents.

It can be a tempting prospect for individuals and local authorities to go for the cheapest option for de-icing the roads. However, the actual cost of the whole operation can actually be far greater than if they had used safer alternatives, such as organic de-icers or old-fashioned ‘elbow grease’ to shift the ice and snow. Damage

to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure can cause significant delays. This can be from traffic building up behind a vehicle that has had an accident caused by a pot hole or crack and is now immobilised, awaiting the emergency services or roadside assistance, or from road closures and diversions put in place while damaged roads are repaired.

Such delays then have knock-on effects for people trying to get to business meetings, visit vulnerable family members, distribute stock to retail outlets or carry out home deliveries. Thus, threatening the wider UK economy at a time in history when it really needs to be kept as stable as possible, following the repercussions of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

Other issues to watch forcentral london roads

As well as the direct damage that rock salt causes the roads themselves, it can also prove devastating in other, associated ways. Affected areas can lose their aesthetics with increased numbers of cracks, pot holes and evidence of patched-up surface repairs. Many local authorities’ finances are already stretched dealing with urgent road repairs, with little to none left for restoring an area’s aesthetic appeal. Trees and plant life next to roads can also be put at risk, due to the rock salt entering the soil via melted ice and causing damage and harmful chemical changes to roots, water sources and wider ecosystems.

Then, there are the vehicles themselves. Rock salt that sprays up and sticks to the underside of a car, van or lorry can cause the surfaces it comes into contact with to corrode and weaken, thus adding to overall nation-wide costs with increased vehicle maintenance and repair bills. It is a good idea to wash the underside of your vehicle whenever you have been out in icy conditions to cut down on this risk of corrosion and damage.

Rock salt flying up into other modes of transport also affects motorcyclists and cyclists. They can be more susceptible to breathing in, or coming into direct contact with the rock salt and becoming unwell as a result. Breathing difficulties, skin irritation and stomach upsets can all be caused by exposure to sodium chloride. Cyclists and motorcyclists who ride through treated areas are advised to remove all outer clothing before they enter a house or building. Rock salt can cause burns to carpets, rugs and other floor coverings, so remove your boots or shoes at the door as well.

This advice also applies to pedestrians and people riding horses during icy weather. Horse riders should take extra care to ensure that the hooves and legs of their horses are wiped clean and checked regularly for any signs of irritation or injury

during winter months. Do this straight after every walk or whenever the horse has been exercised on or near surfaces that could have been treated with rock salt.

What’s the alternative?

The good news is that there is no need to stick to rock salt for de-icing icy roads and infrastructure. EcoGrit Concentrate is an organic, biodegradable and safe alternative that won’t damage surfaces or leak toxic chemicals into the ecosystem. The granules are non-corrosive, fine and highly effective, working at lower temperatures than rock salt for up to seven days. They will not harm children, pets, local plants or wildlife, making them ideal for use on any exterior surface. Additionally, because it’s soluble, it can be made into a spray to use on metal railings, drain covers and handrails.

EcoGrit Concentrate can be applied in advance of any ice appearing too, allowing you to prepare the roads for sub-zero temperatures in plenty of time. Find out more and order your supplies today at www.ecogrit.co.uk.

#SayNOtoRockSalt #SayYEStoEcoGrit #PowerToThePeople

Rock Salt Alternatives

Rock salt alternatives that actually work

When the ice, frost and snow hit, it can be all too easy to rush out and buy the nearest thing you can find to deice the driveway, pavement or road to help you get your vehicle out safely, or to stop you, your visitor and the general public from slipping over on the treacherous conditions underfoot.

However, while many people automatically reach for the rock salt or Himalayan salt to speed up the rate of snow melting, there are, in fact, many other rock salt alternatives out there that are gentler on surfaces and safer to leave down to work their magic.

Deicing products work by lowering the freezing point of water so that any existing ice that they come into contact with melts back into the water. They then prevent further ice from forming, making surfaces such as concrete, tarmac and metal safer and easier to walk and drive on.

As the products remain on the surface until they are blown away or washed off by the melting ice or subsequent rain, it is important that they are as safe as possible to any humans or animals who may come into contact with them. They should also be gentle enough not to damage the surface itself.

Rock salt can be dangerous to animals when ingested, as it can cause their blood sodium concentration to rise above normal levels, leading to lethargy, thirst and kidney damage. It can also be absorbed through their paws and skin, leading to many people seeking safer alternatives that will not harm pets. Rock salt and other salts can also pose a risk to small children if they, too, ingest it by mistake, as well as cause damage to roots and foliage of nearby plants during the ice or snow melting process.

Five alternatives to rock salt for deicing

Owners of pets and small children needn’t worry, however, as there are alternatives to rocksalt for deicing available that do not pose such risks. Many are organic, naturally sourced and easy to spread and remove after the cold snap has passed.

Eco-friendly salt alternative

Choosing a product such as EcoGrit means that you can benefit from effective deicing and an ECOGrit Concentrate hand held ice melt spreaderenvironmentally-friendly deicer, safer removal solution that doesn’t contain rock salt or urea that can damage surfaces, flora and fauna.

Sand

This is a non-slip, easily affordable way to add some traction to an icy surface to prevent slipping and sliding in winter. Although it doesn’t actually melt the ice, it holds its place well once applied, so you won’t have to keep adding new layers. It is well worth keeping a bag of sand in the garage or boot of the car if weather forecasts are warning of icy conditions coming along.

Gravel

Similarly to sand, gravel, grit and other examples of crushed stone materials do an excellent job of adding some traction to the ground so that it is easier to navigate. These rock salt alternatives won’t melt the ice, but the stone grits can be mixed with a deicing product to gain dual benefits from spreading a mix of materials onto the driveway, pavement or road.

Straw

Putting down a layer of straw onto an icy surface can help prevent slips and trips as the straw straw_acts_as_a_great_rock_salt_alternativewill add friction to help people stay upright as they walk along. It is organic, safe for children and pets and won’t hurt any plants or damage the concrete underneath. It can also be brushed away easily once the sub-zero weather subsides.

Elbow grease

In cases where snow has built upon a pavement or driveway, getting out there as quickly as possible with a shovel to clear a pathway can mitigate against much of the potential chaos that could be caused by leaving it undisturbed. If snow is left too long, it can freeze and turn into a dangerously slippery and uneven surface. If it starts to melt and then re-freezes, this can also cause problems.

Dealing with pavements

Icy pavements are a common cause of winter accidents with people slipping over, skidding and generally finding it harder to stay upright when trying to walk along with them. However, while local government operating crews are responsible for winter maintenance and deicing, particularly treacherous or well-used sites, some people may think about clearing ice and snow from the pavements and surroundings around domestic properties or work buildings themselves.snow_on_the_pavement_sidewalk

There is no law in the UK to prevent you from clearing public sites and spaces in this way; however, you should be careful and responsible should you choose to do so using any rock salt alternatives for pavements. You should also take care of yourself to ensure that you don’t injure yourself while trying to clear the pavement.

Start early if you are going to clear any pavements, as it is far easier to remove freshly fallen snow before it has had a chance to freeze or become compacted by people walking on it. Never use hot water for snow or ice removal, as it will freeze itself if the temperatures are still at freezing or below and cause an even more dangerous slayer of ice to form.

Think about where you are going to put any snow that you have shovelled and make sure that it doesn’t block anyone else’s driveway or stop anyone from gaining access to the pavement or road. Take care not to fill or block drainage areas, such as gutters or drains when using rocksalt alternatives for pavements and don’t forget to pay attention to deicing steps, bridges and footpaths too.

Organic salt-free deicers

By choosing an organic salt-free deicer, you are helping to solve the problem of slippery ice sustainably and with an ecologically-friendly approach. Organic salt-free deicers offer a convenient, easy way to get rid of ice and are affordable and easy to get hold of.

It comes in sturdy bags for easy storage in the garage or shed. Keep a couple of bags in the boot of the car too, so that you are never stranded when away from home due to unexpected ice. They are far safer for animals and children too, and will not harm plants or trees as no salt will be absorbed into the surrounding soil following their use.

What is the lifetime for alternative rocksalts

Alternatives to rock salt for deicing can be stored for years, work down to temperatures of minus 20 degrees C and ran remain effective for up to seven days once applied. You can add them before any ice forms too, as a preventative measure.

EcoGrit your way to safety this winter

EcoGrit offers a range of organic alternatives to rock salt for deicing, ranging from handheld shakers and spreaders containing ice melting granules to larger tubs of EcoGrit products, complete with a handy scoop for easy distribution and even the option to buy wholesale ice melt. Check out the product range now and get prepared for any icy conditions on the horizon.

Check out the range of Ice melt products Ecogrit has on offer:

Are you a Scraper or De-icer?

Now you don’t need to be either.

The Problem

Deicers used to all be in aerosol cans but nowadays they are in cheap plastic throwaway bottles. They are easy to open and are poorly labelled. The contents of all these deicers are toxic to both humans and animals and yet are made to taste sweet and nice to look at, (they are generally blue or yellow coloured liquids).

Once in use, deicers are often kept in the car where children have access. When they are used to clear the ice from car windows, the slushy toxic remnants end up on driveways, roads and in car parks where it is a danger for pets and wildlife.

When you add up the volume of deicer used over a winter period by motorists it must be a staggering amount of toxic chemicals getting washed away into our groundwater. Industries use deicer on yet another level again.

The Solution

EcoGrit Concentrate has been designed to be used as a straight replacement for deicing and rock salts but its best quality is that it can be made into a solution very simply. This solution is then a non-toxic, non-corrosive and environmentally friendly deicer that can be sprayed. It is an anti-icer as well as a deicer which means wherever you spray, ice cannot form.

Motorists can use it so they would never have to scrape ice off windows again and if you forgot to put it on the night before, you can still use it as a deicer (although it will always be most effective to use it before the onset of ice).

This product can be adapted for use in many industries like rail, roads, facility management and food manufacturers, as it is safe to use anywhere and everywhere. It would be able to be sprayed directly onto roads making it safer to apply when motorists are about. This product ticks all the boxes and more that are required by the rail and road industries and if adopted on a national scale there is no damage to the environment as the product is biodegradable.

Mix in 100g of EcoGrit Concentrate for every litre of cold water.

spray rate about 100 mls/m2

Safe Storage

This product is safe to store in both granular and liquid form. In granular form, it is kept in the dry and in liquid form in a closed container. Neither form carries any danger so are not included in COSHH reports. There is no training needed in the handling of this deicing solution. It is even non-harmful if ingested.

 

Check out the range of Ice melt products Ecogrit has on offer:

What will our future look like?

UK becomes the first major economy to pass net-zero emissions law

 

The aim: to help stop Global Warming.

The problem: our country becomes colder in the winter.

 We can barely cope now when the ice and snow arrive even in short spells. We have never created a proper product to help in these situations as they didn’t arise so often. We had been more than happy to use rock salt as it works down to -6C, is easily available and cheap. We have always overlooked the fact that this product is not only damaging to our environment and super corrosive to anything it contacts because we didn’t use it that often in the past. 

Times are changing and we need to change with them. 

 

At present

Areas, where rock salt is used most, is quite evident. Potholes are in abundance and the whole road surface is starting to fall apart. The government recognises and accepts an overall deterioration of 3% annually to our roads. At this rate, we don’t have the manpower to fix the entire network of existing potholes in a 12 month period. We have the technology now which the government passed in 2019, thermal road repairing. Even if we fixed all the potholes permanently (trying to fix all the potholes in a 12 month period would cause massive delays to commuters and traffic), we would still have a problem with the deterioration of the road surface. 

Round the corner

As we push to reduce our CO2 emissions, the winters will get harsher. If we continue to throw more rock salt at the problem then we WILL accelerate the deterioration of our roads and infrastructure. With ever-increasing vehicles, our road network will struggle to cope and roads would crumble more quickly. 

 An option on the market at the moment is urea. Many products claiming to be pet-friendly and environment-friendly are just 100% urea. This product hasn’t been designed for this purpose and if used on a large scale will cause us an environmental nightmare (toxic algae blooms).

 

 EcoGrit Concentrate can be our saving grace if we get behind it. It has been designed to tackle all of the issues, tick the right boxes and has the ability to be used by the whole country without causing us any environmental problems. Imagine it, roads without constant potholes.

 

At our homes

In many areas around the country, people are being forced to use deicing and rock salt to keep their driveways and paths clear. This isn’t an ideal solution because of the risk it poses to pets, garden and home. We don’t want to destroy our own property just so we can access it but that is what’s happening. As the temperature changes, it is going to become a problem for more and more people. The more we have to use rock salt then the quicker we deteriorate our homes. People in hilly areas or homes that have driveways on a slope, need to keep these areas ice-free to allow access in and out of the property as well as to prevent vehicles from sliding when they are parked.

 As temperatures drop this is going to be a growing problem as we go forward, as many people have vehicles under contracts where they swap vehicles every couple of years. When you swap you often have to pay for any damage to the vehicle, which can be costly. If your vehicle slides overnight and causes damage to itself or others then it is you footing the bill.