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August 2009 Feature 4

Ice And Snow Removal Review

The goal behind any ice and snow removal program is to reduce the chance of a slip-and-fall incident.

November 01, 2012
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Winter months bring wicked weather to many parts of the United States.

Even regions traditionally not affected by frozen precipitation need to be prepared in the event that Mother Nature takes a detour.

Preparedness is elemental in executing a successful ice and snow removal plan; knowledge and training are keys to preparedness.

Tried And True Formulations

The majority of ice melt products on the market today are halite or rock salt-based.

Mound Of Rock SaltSalt is the most cost-effective and readily abundant material that efficiently melts snow and ice and has been in use for more than 70 years.

Salt does, however, carry an environmental impact that can increase the weatherization of concrete and asphalt sidewalks and parking lots.

Salt can also cause a buildup on entrance mats, carpets and various types of hard surface floors.

To counter the potentially negative effects of salt, many companies combine salt with additives that enhance an ice melt's effectiveness and minimize its environmental impact.

"Ice melt blends are being designed to accommodate the increased interest in minimizing the environmental impact of melt runoff," states Morton Ice Melting Solutions Product Manager Niles Hysell.

According to Hysell, not all ice melts are safe for plants, animals and surfaces, so it is extremely important to test the products you plan to use before incorporating them into your ice and snow removal program.

The goal behind any ice and snow removal program is to reduce the chance of a slip-and-fall incident.

All ice melt products will help you reach this goal, some more effectively and safer than others.

Always read product labels and perform research or consult with your JanSan distributor if you have any inquiry about an ice melt's cautions or potential hazards.

There are a wide variety of products for precisely the reason that one product does not solve every situation.

Better And Faster

Through extensive research and development, many ice melt companies have discovered ways to improve the efficacy of their products while reducing the unwanted side effects associated with their use.

"By reducing the use of straight calcium chloride, end users can minimize the 'wet spotting' caused by calcium attracting and holding moisture in carpets," notes Hysell.

Product formulations that combine salt with magnesium chloride and calcium chloride, for example, are able to provide a higher melting rate over a longer period of time and at lower temperatures.

Moreover, these nontraditional formulations are less noticeable inside buildings where they have been tracked in because blends readily recrystalize and can be easily vacuumed up.Liquid Ice Melt Ossian

This reduces the precious time and money spent removing residues from floors and allows staff to perform other crucial tasks.

Many companies now also offer liquid ice melt products that are ideal for larger application areas such as parking lots.

These liquid products provide more extensive coverage and offer residual benefits not found with granular ice melts.

"While the industry works to provide a truly green product that is affordable and effective as an ice melt, the best advice we can suggest is to look into instituting anti-icing practices in your operation that utilize liquids ahead of a storm event," emphasizes Mike Ossian of Ossian Inc.

Adding a color tint of red or blue to a product makes it easier to see against ice and snow than traditional, non-colored ice melts.

"It is easier to observe the amount of ice melt applied visually when the melt is colored," adds Hysell. "This can prevent overapplication."

A tinted ice melt also helps reduce wear on vulnerable surfaces like concrete by allowing the user to see how much product has been applied in a given area.

According to Ossian, at the end of a season when operators are going over what worked and what didn't that winter, it may be much easier for them to remember that the pink product seemed to work better than the blue one than to remember the actual brand names of what they were applying.

Winterizing The Interior

While contesting the conditions outside of your facility is important, it is crucial to combat the spread of wintery weather and stop it before it reduces the safety and appearance of the inside of your facility.

An effective matting system at least 15 feet in length should be in place.

A properly maintained matting system will greatly reduce the amount of salt, sand and other soils associated with wintery weather from being tracked into your facility.

Cleaning professionals should be prepared with wet/dry vacuums, carpet extractors and microfiber mops to quickly cleanup any factions of winter weather that make their way inside.

"The use of liquids does not completely eliminate tracking but it can severely reduce it," remarks Ossian. "If the liquid is clear, such as potassium acetate, any tracking will be invisible and the product will not dry with the typical white dusting characteristic of salt."

An all-encompassing ice and snow removal plan — one that focuses on the outside and inside of your facility — will help keep building occupants safe and will contribute to improved indoor environmental quality.

Application

Even the most well-to-do ice and snow removal plan in fruitless if end users are not employing proper application techniques.

Colored Ice Melt On SidewalkIt is recommended that ice melts be applied before a winter weather event.

Applying an ice melt before an area becomes covered with ice and snow prevents the frozen precipitation from bonding to surfaces, making it easier to remove by shoveling, plowing or snow blowing.

Municipalities have reported that every pound of liquid ice melt applied to surfaces before a winter storm can save up to four pounds of product used after a storm.

Hysell asserts that ambient temperature, precipitation, surface temperature and residual ice melts from previous applications all affect the time an ice melt will take to work and how well it will work.

Now, while the weather is still agreeable, is the time to establish and fine-tune an ice and snow removal program.

Waiting until bad weather hits puts you at a disadvantage; remember, the best offense is a good defense.

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