Salt is a corrosive road deicing method

Posted: Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I noticed the Empire article about the Alaska Department of Transportation, so I thought I'd submit a little data from my experience with that agency.

I had a problem with the plan to spread salt on Juneau's road system during periods of icing, so I contacted the Juneau DOT office. I was told that salt was more efficient, less corrosive and far less expensive than current deicing methods.

I responded that I doubted the efficiency claim, as it appears to be applied more often than magnesium chloride and requires man-power to mix it. I also doubt the claim of the corrosive value to be equal or less than the previous chemical. I also doubt that it is less expensive because of all the above.

My research pointed me to as well as the transportation departments for Minnesota and Wisconsin. There is much test data to show that salt brine is 70 percent more corrosive to mild steel than magnesium chloride when used without a corrosion inhibitor. I also believe the Pacific Northwest Snowfighter Association has something to say about the use of salt and/or salt brine as a de-icing agent.

DOT is using a salt brine solution without corrosion inhibitor throughout streets in southeast and claiming it is better, cheaper and easier to use. Having grown up in Minnesota, I can attest to what salt does to the mild steel of automobiles let alone what it does to the road infrastructure (light poles, bridges, etc.) and further believe it would be as expensive if not more than other options if a corrosion inhibitor were to be used.

Drivers should be diligent in cleaning their vehicles lest they rust out from under them in a few years.

Scott Harris


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