Alcohol by-product improves ice melt


Once the storm passes, you have 48-hours to clear your sidewalk of snow and ice. One of the hottest new trends in snow removal is high tech ice melt. 

We all know drinking and driving don’t mix, but this mix of high tech salt contains a hint of booze.

“The by-product of rum and vodka,” said Chad Van Laecken from Snow Technologies in Mitchell.

That by-product is used to sweeten white salt so it melts ice at a lower temperature.

“When we started twenty years ago–number one–we didn’t use any ice melt; we just plowed the lot. As time has gone on, we’ve gone through using sand, using rock chips, and then we finally came to a product that would get rid of the ice,” Van Laecken said.

But the technology in the salt isn’t the only thing that’s changed; it’s also the timing of the application.

“Basically, (it’s) just laying down some salt before it happens. It’ll help treat the concrete and asphalt so then it doesn’t quite turn to ice right away,” Jason Long, of Hohn and Son Trucking, said.

“They’re going out and pre-treating their lots before the storm. The idea behind that, it won’t allow that bond to form between the freezing rain and the parking lot,” Van Laecken said.
That means better traction for snow plows and a cleaner parking lot in the end.

“It’s important for every business because nobody wants anybody to slip and fall at their establishment,” Van Laecken said. 

Van Laecken says the rum colored salt is pet friendly and melts ice down to -30 degrees. Now the only question is the timing of the storm.

“With the rain coming in, if it’s freezing rain, we’ll be out salting later tonight or early this morning, depending on when it hits,” Long said. .

Snow Technologies also sells a special snow plow blade made out of recycled tires. Van Laecken says the rubber blade does a great job of snow removal without damaging the parking lot.

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