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.
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.
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
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.