Doing more with less salt — and less energy spent on snow and ice control

The process of removing snow and ice from Utah’s roads is a critical and expensive function of the Utah Department of Transportation.

Most of the passenger vehicle accidents from winter storms tend to happen at the beginning of the storm as conditions change.  Salting the roads before the storm unfortunately results in much of the salt being pushed off the road and wasted because there is no moisture yet to help it stick to the road.

In 1999 Utah began experimenting with a new process to improve our pre-storm approach to snow and ice control. Instead of  spreading dry salt on the roads, UDOT began applying a 23% brine solution to the roads which sticks immediately and prevents precipitation from bonding to the road. Not only does this make the roads easier to plow, but it uses less salt — 20% less salt!

On average, the diesel trucks that operate the plow process get less than 5 miles per gallon. With over 598 trucks in service working on snow operations, even a small improvement in gas mileage will save Utah thousands of dollars per snowstorm in fuel costs. Pre-wetting the roads results in less salt being hauled, less repeat trips by the trucks to battle the snow and ice, less mechanical work done by the plow (as the snow is easier to move because it’s not sticking to the road) and most importantly — safer conditions at the beginning of the storm which has resulted in a significant drop in winter-weather related accidents.

Things you can do:

  • Take a look in the trunk of your car to see if there is anything you can do without in order to decrease the amount of weight you’re hauling
  • Apply a similar brine solution to your driveway before it snows to prevent the snow from sticking to your driveway. It’s easier to shovel and a bag of salt will last you the whole winter!



One response to this post.

  1. I am definitely trying this on my driveway next time!


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