What is Road Salt and What Is It Used For?

The Midwest can get very cold in the winter, and you must be prepared for snow and icy conditions.  When the roads are covered with snow and ice, they are treated so that drivers can get around. Most of the time, roads are treated with road salt. Splash and Go Car Wash defines road salt and the effects on your vehicle.

The Use of Salt to Treat Roads Started In 1938

In New Hampshire, the use of salt to deice the roads was first introduced in the year 1938.  Most, if not all the areas that are affected by snow and ice use road salt to treat the roads. Since that time, it has become a common occurrence to see salt trucks out and about during the months treating roadways.  This process helps make the roads safer for people wanting or needing to travel during the winter months. Most people can get through the tough months of the winter with little or no trouble by adjusting their schedules so that they do not have to drive in icy or snowy conditions.  However, in some cases, people still need to be out on the roads in bad conditions. If you find yourself in this predicament, make sure to use caution.

Today’s Road Salt Use

Road salt is used so that the roads are safe for traveling in the winter.  People still must get around and the road salt makes it possible for them to do so. While road salt helps to keep drivers safe, it can also be harmful to your vehicle so you should be careful to clean it off your car whenever possible.  

Every year, over 17 million tons of road salt is sprayed on roads in the United States.  It is necessary to treat the roads when they are difficult for traveling during the winters, so road salt is a valuable commodity.  Because so much is needed during the icy and snowy months of the year, some cities find themselves without enough to take care of their road systems.  This leads to poor driving conditions which can make travelling difficult. Knowing this, many areas, including here in the Midwest, have already beefed up on their road salt supply just to be on the safe side for when the bad weather starts rolling in.

What Road Salt is Made Out Of?

Salt used on roads, sodium chloride, is basically the same as table salt.  The main difference is the coarseness of the salt.  Table salt is purified, grounded, and has iodine added to it whereas Rock salt is what is used for roads.  Rock salt is mined underground from salt crystals.  People that mine for the salt use dynamite to break apart the salt and then it is hauled away to crushing machines.  Salt is mined all over the world and there are plenty of mines located all around the United States.  It is a process that is continual and happens all year long so that there will be plenty of salt to be used in a variety of areas that have trouble snow and ice during the winter months.  Rock salt is stored in the off months in places that are made specifically for this purpose. Storage areas must be kept completely dry so that the salt is not destroyed.      

Keeping your car salt free

Road Salt and the Environment 

Because road salt contains chemicals including  lead, phosphorus, and other contaminants, road salt is said to be bad for the environment. It is still the most widely used way to treat the roads in the winter.  Since people are concerned about the environment and the effects that it has on their vehicles, they are always looking for new ways to treat the roads during the winter months.  For the better part, the roads will still be treated with road salt because it seems to work the best.  

Why Is Road Salt Used in The Winter?

Precipitation starts to freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and road salt stops the water from freezing on the roads.  However, for road salt to work properly, there must be some water on the road. A brine solution is often sprayed first to pre-treat the roads surface. The preprocess of the brine solution and putting down salt on the roads helps to reduce or eliminate the roads from freezing over and becoming icy.  This allows for people traveling, including emergency vehicles, ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks to get where they need to go.     

What is road salt

When does Road Salt Not Work?

Road salt cannot be used on surfaces that are 15 degrees or lower. Being in the Midwest means temperatures often drop lower than 15 degrees during the winter months. During these brutally cold times, road salt does not have the effect that is needed on the ice.  This is when people need to be more careful about going out and about. We recommend staying indoors during these times if possible.  

As mentioned before, people need to use caution on the roads in the winter, even when there is a good salt supply to treat them. However, what if there isn’t enough to make sure that the roads are passable?  We suggest taking precautions and driving more slowly and driving in a lower gear. 

Is Road Salt Bad for Your Car? 

In our part of the world, snow is bound to happen. As part of that, road salt application is necessary to help make our roads passable and safe for all.  While road salt helps to keep us safe, it is very hard on our vehicles. Brake lines and other mechanical systems can become degraded, or even fail, due to exposure to roadway deicing chemicals. Those same chemicals can also cause rust to eat through the vehicle’s body – making regular car washing a wise investment in safety and the value of your vehicle. 

Research has determined that nearly every chemical used to deice roads has some corrosive effect, whether those chemicals are chloride-based, acetates or carbohydrates. Keeping roads clear of ice and snow is such an important part of safe winter driving in Missouri, but so is protecting your vehicle. 

Road salt tips

How do I Protect My Car from Road Salt?

It might seem impossible to protect your car from the chemicals of road salt. Yet, Splash and Go has the answer! There are so many benefits to regular car washes during the winter months. Have your car checked out regularly along with visiting Splash and Go for regular washes. Splash and Go Car Wash and The International Carwash Association is reminding motorists that the use of wintertime deicing chemicals can cause serious damage, particularly to the exposed underbody of vehicles. With that said, it is so important to clean your car to get rid of salt and sticky brine solutions that are likely on your vehicle. 

Splash and Go Express Car Wash is a Professional Car Wash Service that can assist with all your vehicle washing needs. As noted above, cleaning the undercarriage is a must during the chilly winter months as well as the wheels and tires. Why Splash and Go? We have multiple wash packages and Unlimited Wash Packages to keep your vehicle clean every day.  We look forward to seeing you soon and protecting your investment.

Located at 100 SW Raintree Plaza Dr, Lee’s Summit, MO 64082. Follow us on Facebook for up to date happenings at the wash and visit our website to learn more!