× Close

Bismarck Testing New Ice Prevention Solution

Tired of raking sand out of your boulevard each spring, and dirtying up your clothes from brushing up against a muddy car? If all goes well, those days may be coming to an end.

Something I’ve been waiting a long time for has finally arrived! The City of Bismarck has announced that they will be testing a new ice prevention system, which will use either a salt/beat mixture or potassium acetate compound to reduce ice buildup on our roads. As someone who spent four years living in Minneapolis, which has used salt and potassium acetate for years, I am a huge supporter of this switch, seeing first hand its benefits.

It all comes down to basic chemistry. I think everyone’s done the freeze comparison experiment in school, which compared how regular tap water and salt water froze. As you recall, the tap water froze solid, but the salt water remained no more than slush. The same result will happen when salt is spread on the streets. The liquid will have similar difficulty freezing, making our streets much safer. Although sand does help vehicles get better traction, it does little to actually reduce the ice.

With this new method, if used properly, the city can actually spread the solution before the storm even arrives, preventing ice from forming in the first place. It also will help prevent snow from piling on the roads as it will melt when it makes contact with the solution. Of course, it won’t 100% prevent either from collecting on our streets, but it does greatly reduce them.

Aren’t you tired of raking sand out of your boulevards each spring, and dirtying up your clothes from brushing up against a muddy car? With salt, this won’t happen.

Opponents to salt argue that it’s corrosive on both cars and streets. It can’t be argued that salt is a corrosive material, however newer cars are coated to protect from harmful elements like salt, and even carry an anti-corrosion warranty usually spanning 6-10 years. Cars are already exposed to other corrosive materials like oil on the streets, so salt won’t do much more harm. I can tell you that in my time living in Minneapolis, I rarely saw rust on cars. Proper cleaning of vehicles in the spring time is all that’s needed to prolong rust. Even if there is an increased chance of rust, I feel it’s a better trade off to crashing, totaling my car and potentially becoming injured (or worse).

What about the streets? Doesn’t salt contribute to their deterioration? The answer – yes. But, as most people know, the ice itself is what mostly causes those infamous potholes on our streets. Most large cracks and potholes form when water seeps into smaller cracks and then freezes. Without that ice forming on our streets, the amount of potholes might actually be reduced.

Another argument is that salt costs more. This is indeed true up front, however many cities have conducted cost projection analyses comparing the long-term cost differences and found sand isn’t necessarily less expensive. Why? Because salt will breakdown and wash away in time, as sand must be swept off the streets each spring. It’s been determined that the extra costs to cleanup the sand balance out its lower price tag.

Ultimately, the best way to prevent crashes comes from the driver itself. Slow down, increase your stopping distance, and pay attention on icy roads. Remember, four-wheel drive and electronic traction control systems help give traction when going, but does nothing to help stopping.

Related Blog:
Bismarck Needs To Get Their Head Out Of the Sand (01/13/2009)