Understanding all the snow and ice melting products out there can get kind of slippery.
Rock salt. Brine. And what the heck is “engineered ice melt?”
How much do property managers know about the products used on their sites to melt snow and ice?
We asked them. Area property managers took our quick survey about brine, rock salt, and engineered ice melt. Which is most expensive? Most effective? Safest for the environment?
Here are the survey results, along with some facts about these important materials that keep your property safe.
Let’s Start with the Survey Results
1. Which material do you think is most expensive?
Rock Salt - 28.57%
Brine - 0.00%
Engineered Ice Melt - 71.43%
2. Which material do you think is most effective?
Rock Salt - 0.00%
Brine - 57.14%
Engineered Ice Melt - 42.86%
3. Which material do you think is the best for the environment?
Rock Salt - 0.00%
Brine - 57.14%
Engineered Ice Melt - 42.86%
4. Do you know which materials are being used on your property?
Yes - 85.71%
No - 14.29%
5. In your opinion, which of the following is most important when it comes to snow and ice management services?
Safety - 57.14%
Budget - 0.00%
Reliability - 28.57%
Sustainability - 14.29%
So, How Did Property Managers Do?
Here are the answers:
Which Material is Most Expensive?
Yes, engineered ice melt costs $35-$50 for a bag, while brine is $6-$10 a gallon and plain rock salt costs $300-$375 per ton.
It seems a bit like comparing apples and oranges when you look at bag vs. gallon vs. ton, but when it all shakes out (salt pun alert) engineered ice melt costs more.
Which Material is Most Effective?
You have to do a bit of a deep dive here to answer this question, because each material works differently and does its best work in varying conditions.
Brine is most effective before an event to prevent ice buildup, but it can also be used during the snowfall if the snow is light and isn't coming down too fast.
But, as property managers pointed out in their survey responses, engineered ice melt is a close second. More about these materials and how they work in a bit.
Which Material is Best for the Environment?
Most property managers — 57 percent — got this one right. Brine is the best material for the environment. More on this in a bit, too.
What’s Most Important?
Most property managers — 57 percent — said safety is the most important factor when it comes to snow and ice management services.
That makes perfect sense. Liability is a huge concern for property managers. One customer slip and fall injury can result in a costly lawsuit.
Now, a deeper dive into these three materials that help keep your property safe in the slickest, most slippery weather.
First, A Look at Rock Salt — Or Its Successor
While rock salt is the old standby for melting ice, there are newer formulations today that do a better job with less environmental impact.
At Level Green, we limit our use of straight rock salt by using other methods, too, including an engineered ice melt mixture that’s less corrosive than straight salt and friendlier to the environment.
When pre-applied, it prevents ice and snow from bonding to the surface area. Because it’s a time-released formula, the ice melt stays on the surface longer, helping to reduce the freeze and thaw cycle.
Next Up: What's Brine?
Brine is a liquid mixture of water and salt that’s sprayed on roads, parking lots and walkways, usually before a snow or ice storm to prevent snow and ice from sticking.
It’s applied from truck-mounted tanks with nozzles that can spray a swath of brine as wide as 16 feet. Hand-held hoses allow crews to spray it on sidewalks, too.
Level Green started using brine to pre-treat surfaces several years ago. There are lots of advantages.
Salt doesn’t work until the snow or ice starts to melt and it mixes with that liquid and activates. If it’s really cold, that dry salt just lays on top of the snow and blows around.
Brine is already in solution form, so as soon as crews put it down, it starts to work.
That first inch or two of snow is the most slippery, so preventing it from sticking offers a real safety boost.
Brine is easy to apply, too, and doesn’t stick to shoes and boots and get tracked into buildings the way rock salt does. It stays put.
One drawback: if it rains before it snows, the brine can wash away.
And if the ground temperature is too cold, brine will freeze, so crews have to be aware of weather conditions before deciding what material to use. The recommended temperature range for applying brine is between 20 and 30 degrees. Hand-held instruments pointed at the ground tell crews the ground temperature.
Why Brine is Easier on The Environment
Brine uses one quarter of the amount of salt as traditional rock salt, which means it’s better for the environment.
One truckload of brine equals four truckloads of salt. Crews can treat a larger area with less salt per square foot.
Why does this matter? Salt, whether in solid form or in brine, makes its way into area lakes and streams, creating a hostile environment for the creatures who live there.
Some freshwater species can't survive. The environmental impact of dumping all the salt is a big concern.
The Best of Both Salts
Level Green crews use salt brine to pre-treat pavement before a storm and the engineered ice melt mixture on surfaces before and after snow or ice arrives.
Using a mix keeps clients covered, no matter what Mother Nature dishes out.
Trust Your Commercial Property Snow and Ice Management to Level Green
At Level Green Landscaping, we provide snow and ice management to our clients that we already service throughout the year.
We know how dangerous winter weather can be for our client’s residents and visitors.
Our goal: protect everyone who spends time on your commercial property and minimize your organization’s chance of being exposed to snow and ice-related hazards such as slips, falls, traffic accidents, and property damage.
If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers. Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities, and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC, and parts of Virginia.
Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.
We’d love to hear from you.