Snow and Ice Management Glossary
Here is a glossary of terms that you may run across when discussing snow and ice management solutions for your property needs during the winter months.
Beet brine is a more natural anti-icing solution with a 20/80 ratio of sodium chloride to beet juice. It uses much less salt, is a natural rust inhibitor, and the beet sugars help the brine stick to road surfaces instead of washing away. The City of Calgary has been conducting trials with beet brine since 2017. An alternative to beet brine is molasses.
Brine is a mixture of water (commonly 77%) and salt compounds (commonly 23%) that lowers the freezing point of water/snow when applied, forming a protective coating or barrier that prevents ice and snow from sticking to asphalt or concrete. Brine is sprayed as a liquid and is effective as a pre-treatment option for snow and ice management.
Calcium Chloride is a water-soluble salt that is used in brine mixtures to lower the freezing temperature of water (or snow). Sodium Chloride is safe to ingest in small quantities for humans when added to water. Large doses are toxic to plants.
Chinooks are a local weather phenomenon experienced in Calgary caused by warm weather formations dropping their moisture as they pass over the Rocky Mountains, resulting in a dry, warm air front which temporarily suspends winter conditions. Chinooks are characterized by a “Chinook arch,” which is a cloud formation that pushes the clouds back from the mountains, forming an arch of stratus clouds across the sky.
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Ice Melt is a solid deicer made up of salts and chemicals that are sprinkled to melt accumulated snow and ice.
Magnesium Chloride is a water-soluble salt solution that is used in brine mixtures to prevent snow and ice from sticking to road surfaces. Magnesium Chloride is safe for humans, but large doses are toxic to plants.
Molasses is often added to brine, acting as a stabilizer so that the salt and water do not separate. It allows better adhesion to pavement surfaces and is less corrosive to vehicles than salt. An alternative to molasses is beet brine, but molasses is less bulky and doesn’t plug up equipment as much.
Pickle mix is a combination of 7mm pebbles and rock salt to provide traction and melts snow and ice.
Pre-treating is the application of ice melting treatment before a weather event occurs. Pre-treatment options melt the first inch or two of snow and prevent snow from sticking to pavement surfaces for easier clearing.
See: Sodium Chloride
Hauling snow away from properties that are cleared of snow (e.g. parking lots) is an alternative to leaving snow piles on site. More reading: Should You Create Snow Piles in Your Parking Lot?
Sodium Chloride (rock salt) is a water-soluble salt that is used in brine mixtures to lower the freezing temperature of water (or snow). Sodium Chloride is safe for humans, but large doses are toxic to plants.