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What is grit salt made of

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  • 09-01-2020
What is grit salt made of

Road grit is just ground rock salt that is used to spread on the roads during the winter weathers for de-icing purposes. If the rock salt is spread the evening before bad weather is forecasted, it will prevent ice and snow from sticking.

Rock salt is made up of sodium chloride and forms in beds underground. The salt is usually clear, but can be may different colours due to the amount of impurities it contains.

Why is Road gritting important?

Road gritting is important for road safety. It will improve the safety of drivers and also pedestrians. When the weather conditions are forecasted to be icy, or snow, grit is spread onto roads and pavements to prevent skidding and slipping. This will reduce the amount of road accidents due to icy roads, and reduce the amount of injuries of pedestrians walking on icy pavements.

Road grit is also spread in public places such as car parks, playgrounds, schools and hospitals. It's more likely for children to be oblivious to icy surfaces and start running on them and slip over. This de-icing procedure should prevent, or at the very least, massively reduce the risk of that happening.

Grond workers and owners of big businesses buy rock salt in bulks to spread over their grounds, as otherwise, the ice prevents them from working. It also stops employees or any clients slipping or skidding on the ice outside the workplace.

Where does grit salt come from?

Rock salt is usually developed in dry, arid areas and is formed by the evaporation of seas hundreds and millions of years ago.

Rock salt is formed underground, it what are now known as salt mines. In the UK, the main salt mine is located in Winsford, in Cheshire. Miners are sent underground to retrieve the rock salt through different mining processes.

When should you put grit down?

Grit is usually put down the evening before icy, frosty or snowy weather is forecasted. It can also be put down early in the morning if the temperatures of the floor surfaces are below freezing or they are damp.

Gritting is usually carried out int the early evening, or very early in the morning before work traffic starts to appear. This is because it gives enough time for the rock salt to work, and also may catch the ice before it starts forming and prevent it from sticking.

If the weather forecast can't be confirmed, gritters will constantly monitor it to ensure they can get onto the roads. However, if rain is forecasted, this can cause problems as it will rinse all the salt away that has been spread. Therefore, gritters must work around circumstances like this as best they can.

How do you spread grit salt?

Grit salt can either be spread manually using a shovel or by a road gritting machine. The salt must be spread evenly, meaning it's best to use brown rock salt.

Brown rock salt leaves a mucky residue it's being spread, but it means it's clear where has and hasn't been done. During peak times, when the rock salt has been spread, the traffic will cause the salt to mix together to form a moisture which will further prevent ice from sticking.

History of grit salt

In 1844, rock salt was first discovered in Winsford, Cheshire. Initially, people were searching for coal but instead came across rock salt. This discovery led the mining of one million tonnes of rock salt between 1844 and 1892.

The mining process was very dangerous and involved lots of shovels to break the rock, black powder explosives to break the rock into pieces, wooden barrels to transport the rock salt to the surface and candles, since electricity wasn't introduced to underground mines until the 1930s.

However, it was first used on the road in Detroit, USA, in 1940. 8,000 tonnes of rock salt was produced in their salt mine each month, and it was all collected and moved by donkeys.

How grit salt works

When water freezes, ice and frost forms. To stop this causing hazards to the public, salt gritting trucks spread rock salt on roads, pavements and public places. When the rock salt is spread, the traffic driving on it and the pedestrians walking on it cause it to mix with the moisture from ice, frost or rain, which forms a saline solution.

These saline solutions are known to have a lower freezing point than water, which prevents ice and frost from forming. So that the saline solution can be formed, the correct amount of rock salt must be spread. If it isn't, the prevention of the ice forming will be reduced, and the risk of dangerous driving will be increased.

However, the effectiveness of rock salt will decrease if the temperature drops below minus six degrees.


Do you need grit salt delivery in Aberdeen, Dundee and Peterhead? Contact us for grit salt suppliers in Scotland.