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.
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.