The use of liquids in snow and ice management operations are growing rapidly in North America and around the world. There are a myriad of reasons to use liquids in your operation, but one that might matter most to your customers, especially if they are educated on the subject, is both the long term and day to day impact to their facilities and infrastructure.
Sure, there is a major global environmental impact to using salt and chlorides, but let's look at the micro-level.
If you truly look at what is best for your client's property in terms of the green space, retention ponds, concrete and asphalt surfaces, building facades, railings, door jams and frames... Or much bigger pictures, elevated parking decks, garages, and bridges. This multi-million dollar infrastructure is far too expensive to throw corrosive products on. Salt is not the answer and while better in some ways, calcium and magnesium chloride are really not the long term answer either.
So what is the answer? Well, the ultimate and long term goal should be chloride-free de-icers. Very high quality and high performing chloride-free options exist, like Entry® which is made by SynaTek Solutions Branch Creek Brand. See their product page here: https://chloridefree.com/commercial/
We have tested it, and the performance in terms of anti-icing and de-icing is phenomenal, but the performance is only a small portion of the good news. The great news is that Entry® is corrosion free, does not track, has a refreeze point FAR below that of any chlorides, and goes down at a much lower rate per 1000 sq ft than chloride-based products. Even better news, it is the ONLY ice melt product on the planet to achieve the coveted Green Seal® Certification
For more information on Entry® and its Green Seal® certification, see here: https://greenseal.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Branch-Creek-Entry-Green-Seal-Certification-press-release_070919.pdf
While the cost of a product like Entry® seems high on the surface (no pun intended), over the long term it's actually very inexpensive. The cost of janitorial surfaces due to tracking in as well as replacing sidewalks, steps, railings, entry doors, carpet flooring, and other light infrastructure due to the corrosion and tracking of salt or other chlorides over the long run is almost certainly more expensive than using a product like this.
Thinking much bigger; the cost of replacing parking decks, parking garages or bridges even one year sooner than would have been necessary due to the use and abuse of chloride de-icing products more than pays for the use of a product like Entry®. Now think about getting 10 extra years out of that critical infrastructure. The numbers are not even worth exploring, the financial and environmental impact is obvious.
Stepping Stones to Chloride Free
The leap to chloride-free is a big one, and possibly too big of an initial step to take when transitioning from standard granular ice melt products. Is it the future? Absolutely, but taking baby steps is never a bad thing.
At our commercial snow and ice management company we use chloride-free products only on high sensitivity and entry areas on select properties. We would love to shift more fully and more quickly to chloride free, but as a contractor, it makes us cost-ineffective. Even with the studies showing the reduction in long term infrastructure upkeep, not every customer or facility manager is in a position or has a budget to be thinking 30 years ahead.
So what is the stepping stone we can use to move in the right direction?
- Use liquid de-icers. This alone reduces the amount of chloride application versus granular product.
- Use 80% sodium chloride brine blended with 20% calcium or magnesium-based inhibitor product. This will give incredibly low re-freeze temperatures (remember, freeze/thaw cycles are just as, or in some cases even more destructive than corrosion itself), and corrosion scores 80% less than that of sodium chloride.
- PROPERLY APPLY! Far too often, products get over-applied. Especially granular products where it's most convenient to rip open the bag and dump. Liquids can be more easily calibrated for proper and most consistent application rates.
If you are wondering what salt brine additives/inhibitors can help achieve these better corrosion scores and lower re-freeze temperatures, we can help! There are a lot of great options out there and fortunately for us, organizations like the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters do independent testing on these additives and certify them based on their corrosion reduction ratings and effectiveness in their Clear Roads program.
For information on their testing procedures and certified additive products see the following links, the info on brine additives starts on page 32: http://pnsassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/PNSSPECS.pdf
For a list of certified products see here: https://clearroads.org/qualified-product-list/
We have tested and reviewed many products from the Clear Road QPL, but one of our absolute favorites is Headwaters HOT by Pelican Chemical. It can be purchased nationwide through Harmoney De-Icing Products, https://www.harmoneydeicing.com
Another product we have tested extensively with great results is AMP by Envirotech Services, Inc. It can be purchased nationwide directly through Envirotech, https://envirotechservices.com
We are also very excited to launch our pilot program in the winter of 2020/2021 with Ally™ PC liquid products. Ally™ is a salt brine additive just like Headwaters and AMP, but it contains the Entry® product we spent most of this article talking about. Traditional products melt snow and ice by creating a heat exchange. Entry® works by Ionically breaking down the molecular structure of the ice lattice. This unique mode of action allows Entry® to melt through thin layers of snow or ice in less than 30 seconds while preventing refreeze in extreme cold temperatures. This Ionic Melt Technology of Entry® is also accompanied by a cost-effective and proven non-chloride carbohydrate and blended with Magnesium chloride, similar to the previously mentioned products. https://securewinterproducts.com/products/
The link and logo below show Ally® RTU which is just the Ally® PC product already blended with brine ready to use. If you are blending your own brine, it will be much more cost-effective to purchase the additive and blend it with your brine.
If you want to learn more about liquids and what they can do to improve your snow business and best practices and to protect your customer's property and infrastructure, don't hesitate to reach out. We have been using almost exclusively liquids in our commercial snow and ice operation for 10 years, so we have learned a few things along the way.
Within the next 10 years there will be incredibly strict guidelines and even total restriction on chloride use in many places. Don't get left behind, the time to plan for the future is now and the future of chloride reduction and chloride-free is with liquids!