Salt Mixture

Makeup of Our Salt Mixture
Frederick County does not use molasses as an additive to our salt mixture. Our understanding is that some of the other road maintenance organizations might, such as Maryland State Highway may be using a mixture of molasses and salt brine.

We still use primarily rock salt to assist during and prior to snow removal. We also mix the salt with anti-skid, a small stone chip for added traction. If we are treating the roads, prior to the storm or if the temperature dictates, we will spray a liquid onto the salt. The liquid that we use is a mixture of magnesium chloride and a corn byproduct, very similar to corn syrup.

On the surface, you are correct in thinking that using molasses (or other similar type additives, such as corn syrup) doesn’t make much sense in our snow removal operations. However because of the colder temperatures during winter, these additives become more viscous or sticky. This property is very useful in our operations in that the salt is treated with an additive as it comes out of the spreader. This treatment makes the salt tackier and adheres to the roadway better instead of hitting the road and bouncing off. This decreases the amount of salt we use and retains more on the road where it needs to be. In addition to the viscous issue above, these products are less corrosive than that of straight salt, so we save on the rusting of our equipment as well as the product is more environmentally friendly.

Added Feature

Another great feature of the product is that it increases the salt’s effective melting process. Typically, salt becomes ineffective in melting snow / ice at about 24°F; whereas this product lowers the effective temperature for salt to about 0°F.

Amount Used
To give you an idea of the amount of material is used. If we were spreading the salt at 500 pounds per mile (an average amount of the recent storms) 1 pound of salt would cover over 200 square feet. The additive is applied to the salt at a rate of 8 gallons per ton. So in that 200 square foot, you would have 1 pound of salt and ½ of an ounce of liquid. As you can see the amount is minimal but provides excellent results.

Because of the addition of this product to our salt mixture, we have been able to reduce the amount of salt mixture that is applied to the road which in turn saves the county money.

During heavy snow events, we will plow only the roads listed on the Priority Roads list. Once the storm has past, we will go and clear the secondary roads and subdivision roads. Once all streets have been cleared and material has been applied, we will widen back all roads.