November 4, 2020
Lee GouldLike so many professions, the winter maintenance industry continues to evolve at an extraordinary pace. In part, the changes are as a result of external challenges such as soaring insurance premiums, but it’s also a result of improvements in technology, products, and training.

One of the best examples of the positive change being embraced by winter maintenance professionals is the use of liquid de-icing materials. When we speak of liquids, we’re typically referring to brine or salty water.

Brine is simple to make and store, but it can also be purchased from a supplier. Brines are useful for anti-icing before a storm or following after mechanical snow and ice removal.

Recent academic studies are confirming the use of brines versus solid/crystal salts can dramatically reduce the amount of product needed to ensure safety. This reduction is a bonus for our environment, and can also help to reduce costs for winter maintenance professionals as brines can be cost-effective. It should also be pointed out that the studies actually suggest improvements to safety as well. For example, spraying brine on steps and walkways (instead of applying salt by hand) can provide better and more uniform coverage and can reduce some of the slip-and-fall hazards that might occur due to an over-application of crystal salts.

The application of salt in a liquid form can also support winter maintenance goals when the temperatures drop by using a so-called “hot brine” which is achieved with other salts such as calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. This is another point in support of liquid salt application.

It’s a bit of an irony that liquids are gaining traction. We’ve always known that it’s the salty water (brine) that does the necessary work and winter maintenance contractors are now taking better advantage of this reality. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for the runoff from stored salt to be captured and used in winter operations, again, potentially saving money and the environment.

The Smart About Salt Council (SASC) is a unique not-for-profit organization incubated through a government-industry partnership. SASC is dedicated to supporting all stakeholders involved in winter maintenance to adopt best management practices (BMPs) in a win-win model that supports safety, meaningfully addresses business concerns of contracts, owners/operations, procurement professionals and alike, but also mitigates clear environmental concerns.

Those wishing to learn more about the unique programs and services offered by the Smart About Salt Council (SASC) are encouraged to visit On the website people can quickly sign up for training which is priced at $375 (less than the price of a cup of coffee a day) and “Register Intent to Certify” $226.

Lee Gould
Executive Director, Smart About Salt Council