Monthly Archives:: July 2012

The business side

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The business side is where liquids become very attractive. If you have never done any anti-icing, they are a great first step for a customer that has a problem with slick spots. If you currently use salt by the ton, and have limited ability to pretreat, then liquids will be especially productive for you.

For the snow contractor or municipality that has been using sand, or done nothing to prevent or reduce ice, liquids can open up a “brave new world” of customer safety and satisfaction. As an example from our past (1999), we had a small medical center that we were plowing. They liked our work but the residue left after plowing was getting slick, particularly if the sun did not come out during the day after plowing. Slips and near falls were getting common. The customer asked us for some help. We researched the issue, talked to a bunch of folks including the Colo Dept of Transportation (CDOT). We arranged a small test with a hand sprayer and a 5 gallon bucket of mag chloride solution. The test went well and we determined to use the mag solution the next year. More on the adventures that caused in another blog. The next season, the customer was thrilled with the added safety of being almost black when plowing was done, and having little or no ice anywhere on the lot the next day.

For a contractor that uses salt, liquids can give you more control and better results. A friend from Philly called a few years ago. I went out and visited his sites and we developed a plan. He had been doing some pre-treatment with salt, but he had the same subcontractors that did the post-treatment with salt doing the pre-treatment. He wanted to bring that function back in house. So we set him up with a liquids program. He did all his pretreatments with liquid using his trucks. Then left the post-treatment to the subcontractors. He had to teach the subs to read the pavement after plowing and use the salt a little more sparingly. The profits and quality both went up. His salt usage dropped noticeably. (did not get a percent, but it was significant) Customer satisfaction went up because most sites had less salt being tracked into their facilities. The ice was gone with noticeably less salt residue. (because of needing less salt after plowing) The contractor could put the liquids down 12-24 hrs before the storm so he was not in panic mode to pretreat just as the storm hit. He could schedule his application around business hours at the site. It turned into a win-win for my contractor friend and for his customers.

So just to review-
Non-salt users can benefit from liquids by improving quality of service and introducing an income stream not had before. Also, most liquids are more ecologically friendly than sand or salt/sand mix.

Salt users can benefit from liquids by being able to schedule the pretreatment ahead of time and bring the function in house, not asking subs to do it. They should also notice a very significant reduction in the use of salt for post treatments. (saving money) And, with much less salt used, salt tracking in is reduced which customers like as well.

So, if you are in the snow & ice mgmt business to make money, you really need to look into using liquids.
Email me at with your questions. I will use some questions on this blog later. special gift sent to you if I use your question. Thanks for reading.

The basics Part #1 Starting liquid anti-icing

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Many people over the years have asked “How do I get started in doing liquid anti-icing in my snowplowing business?” This blog will be my answer to that in moderate depth. There will be 4 or 5 postings on this topic so check back often for the next installment.

The basics.
Liquid anti-icing is based on using some kind of liquid brine solution to prevent ice from forming. It does this by preventing the bonding that happens when snow falls on pavement or concrete. Think about how hardpack forms on a road or lot. It gets driven over a couple times and packed into the surface of the lot. Most of the time plowing does not get this packed stuff up. It just stays. Eventually, with enough packing, it turns to ice, and that is almost impossible to get scraped up with a plow. You have to resort to melting it from the top down. This is normally done with salt or salt with an additive. It works, but not real well.
With anti-icing, you put a brine down before the storm. It interrupts that bonding process by melting snow from the bottom. It allows the plow to then scrape much cleaner, and most brines stay down and will continue to melt (residual action) after plowing. So the white film of snow left after plowing goes away quickly, or may not even be there.

Now, there are 3 basic chemicals as the core ingredient in most brines: Sodium Chloride (salt brine), Magnesium Chloride, and Calcium Chloride. There are many many additives used with these base brines for various applications. More on them later. Brines are normally sprayed from a moving truck onto the road or lot surface 12-48 hrs before a storm depending on the liquid used, surface condition, and temperatures.

There are a couple things to keep in mind at this point-
1. If you are a heavy user of salt, liquids will likely NOT replace salt usage. Liquids will reduce your salt usage dramatically in most cases.
2. Be cautious and skeptical about a liquid vendor’s claim to melt the first 2″ (or 1.5, or 1″) of snow that falls. This is rarely true and requires the perfect combo of conditions. However, most liquids will melt a dusting up to 3/4″ under most normal conditions.

Next part we will talk about the business side of things. Thanks for reading.