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Storing Salt Properly
Bulk Salt Storage

Storing Salt Properly

Proper bulk salt storage is important to public works agencies in terms of economy, availability, and convenience.  Salt is a low cost, readily available deicing product that does not lose its ice melting abilities if stored correctly.

Salt should never be stored outside where it is exposed to the elements.  Left outside, it can be lost to rain and the product absorbs moisture when humidity exceeds 75%.  Public agencies should make sure bulk salt storage is inside a building on impermeable pads or covered with a covering material such as hypalon, polypropylene, polyurethane, tarpaulin, or polyethylene. 

Several advantages exist with proper salt storage.  Such benefits include:

  • The contamination risk to streams, wells, and groundwater is eliminated as there is no salt runoff.
  • Lumpy salt does not form.  This is advantageous because the formation of lumps in salt hinders the use of spreaders and loaders.
  • Loss of salt is eliminated as precipitation does not dissolve the salt causing runoff.
  • Anti-caking agents stay in tact as outdoor elements are prevented from washing away the outer salt layer.
  • Crusting is kept to a minimum, eradicating the need for crushers to get rid of lumps in the salt.

In addition, the bulk salt storage area should also be large enough to hold 100% of the average salt requirements for the winter.  Replenishment of salt supplies during heavy demand periods can be difficult.  Ordering and storing the predicted amount of salt needed is advisable before the winter season begins.  Estimating salt requirements is complicated, especially for public officials who have large areas to manage.  As a rule, never reduce your estimate for the coming winter because you expect the season to be milder than the last. 

Base your estimates on the average requirements for the past five to ten year period.  Also, do not overlook new mileage added to roadways.  Be sure to take into account new streets in new subdivisions as well as highways rezoned from other political subdivisions.  Furthermore, give considerable consideration to the possibility of unusually large amounts of snowfall, winter blizzards, extended cold spells, and unseasonable cold temperatures.  Although difficult to predict, all of the previously mentioned conditions will affect your salt use and storage needs.  If your bulk salt storage ends up exceeding the amount needed, the product can always be stored for the next season as long as it is done so properly.

In general, salt is a deicing material that will continue to be largely used in the winter seasons to come.  With approximately 70% of the United States being located in snowy regions, bulk salt storage needs to be carried out correctly so that the salt product will be effective when applied during the winter season.  How and where public officials’ store their salt products should be carefully evaluated, as well as the amount of deicing salt needed for their location.  Store an adequate amount of deicing salt properly and the cost, handling, and environmental benefits will soon become obvious.