construction materials

Are you ready for winter?  Why ice control sand is the best de-icer

Every winter, deicing roads helps reduce road accidents by 87%. [1] This makes deicing one of the country’s most important road safety measures since World War II. While there is no debate on the effects of de-icing, selecting suitable materials may be more challenging. There are four major categories of deicing materials – Sand, Salt, Chemical, and Hybrid.

Each deicing material has its advantages and disadvantages. The suitable material also depends on the application area, ambient conditions, and the cost benefits of the material. Sand is the oldest deicing mineral that has been in use since the 1930s, while rock salt is a preferred material in some states. Chemical deicers can come in handy in an extreme cold. Let us discuss the pros and cons of all these materials in detail.

The Age-old Question – Sand or Salt

While the topic says sand or salt, we will also study the pros and cons of a few other materials in this article.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sand

Deicing with sand works through friction. Grains of sand also congeal loose snow to make it less slippery. Sand has been the cheapest and oldest deicing material except for a few years in the 1990s when the price of salt nosedived. Another advantage of sand is that it is durable and lasts until removed by surface runoff after a storm or during snow removal. Sand is chemically inert and does not cause corrosion in rebar and structural steel used in highway infrastructure. It does not stop there. Sand can also be used in various temperatures and conditions with alternating sunshine.

If there is any downside when using sand in ice control, it is that washed-out sand clogs storm drainage networks. This is the only Achilles heel for an otherwise perfect deicing material.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Salt

Salt is the most common deicing material in the US. More than 20 million tons of salt worth about $1.5 billion is used yearly in de-icing applications across many states. [2] Depending on the local conditions, different states use rock salt in different dispersion ratios. Hence the consumption is non-uniform and sometimes disproportionate to the size of the state or length of roads.

The advantage of using rock salt is two-fold. The physics is that rock salt is made of relatively larger crystals than table salt and hence has better friction. The thermodynamics is that salt reduces ice’s melting point and turns all ice into water at temperatures above 16 degrees Fahrenheit (or -9 degrees Celsius). Salt is not cheaper than sand, but it is an economical option. Salt also dissolves in the water from ice or storms and washes away in a few days without clogging storm drains.

There are a few downsides too. Salt alters the soil quality, making vegetation decay. This makes salt a less preferred option for walkways, driveways, and other areas near decorative plants or lawns. Salt also alters the water table’s pH value and reduces water sources’ quality in the long run. But the single most significant disadvantage of using rock salt in deicing is the corrosion it causes. Transportation infrastructure like bridges and culverts have either structural steel or rebar in RCC. Salt is corrosive and degrades the steel in these structures, making them lose their structural integrity over time. The annual cost of corrosion from deicing salt is estimated to be about $5 billion – almost three times the cost of the salt required. [3, 5]

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sand + Salt Mix

The third type of deicing material is a mix of sand and salt in an 80:20 ratio. This brings the best of both worlds while minimizing the worst. The advantages and disadvantages are the same as discussed earlier for the respective materials. This mix is becoming the solution of choice for ice control on highways. The additional cost of mixing might make it a little more expensive than sand or rock. Arguably, the benefits can outweigh this increase in cost.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Chemical Deicers

Different state departments have experimented with deicers made from chemicals as an alternative to sand and rock. They avoid hurting the flora while keeping the storm drains free from clogging. One example is CMA (Calcium and Magnesium Acetate). This study discusses the merits and demerits of such material and how different states have conducted research that concluded that CMA is a good substitute for sand and rock salt for ice control in specific conditions. [4]

Why you should use Sand

There is, in fact, no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to deicing. This much is evident from the above arguments in favor of and against the different materials. However, sand scores a lead ahead of other alternatives when it comes to ice control.

  • It is cheap and easily available.
  • It is efficient.
  • It is environmentally safe to use.
  • It lasts longer than salt and chemicals that run off easily.
  • It works irrespective of the atmospheric temperature

Yes, it can cause clogging of storm drain networks, but timely removal can quickly help avoid this. This makes sand an ideal choice in the following conditions:

  • When you cannot predict the temperature range
  • When the rainwater and surface runoff does not directly flow into storm drains
  • When you need to respond quickly to sudden icing or when the road runs through populated areas like cities, towns, and the countryside

What to Consider While Buying Deicing Sand

Sand is sand everywhere, right? Hmm, guess again. Ice control sand has to meet DoT specifications like sieve size, plasticity index, and shale content, among other parameters. Each state defines its specification, like this one from Colorado. [6]

But the quality of the sand is not all that matters. Finding the right supplier is equally, if not more, important. A reliable supplier ensures continuous supply throughout the season while maintaining the quality criteria. Suppliers like Legacy Materials can help you reduce the cost of your ice control project. We are a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE). This allows our customers to enjoy tax incentives provided by the government to our customers for supporting women entrepreneurs.

Final Thoughts

By now, you are well aware that sand is a good choice for deicing in most circumstances. Other materials have their merit, too, depending on the ambient conditions. But the versatility of the applications, cost, and availability make sand an excellent choice for ice control. At Legacy Materials, we help you procure the right kind of sand that meets stringent specifications while staying under budget in the process. In addition, our sand is Iowa DOT Certified sand.  Give us a call at 515-432-7333 or visit our website to meet your needs for ice control materials.

How to Choose the Right Building Material Supplier?

How to Choose the Right Building Material Supplier?

Choosing the right building materials supplier is critical to your project’s success. The top building material suppliers must be identified to guarantee that every building project achieves the best outcome. The construction industry necessitates the use of a wide range of materials. These materials range from high-priced machinery and devices to a variety of low-cost materials. It’s most helpful to plan for the regular supply of these materials to keep the building activity moving forward without interruption.

There are multiple vendors on the market providing construction materials. However, choosing the appropriate one might be difficult with so many vendors on the market. Here are some pointers to help you through the process and choose the best supplier for your needs.

A broad selection of materials:  Building strategic partnerships is something that both you and your suppliers are interested in. You should confirm that the products they recommend meet the requirements of your most typical projects. Your project will remain on schedule in terms of both time and money if you can obtain all you require in a short amount of time.

It’s also important to check that your supplier can assist you in finding the supplies you need when you need them and their product range is broad enough to fulfill your more specialized demands. You may need to engage with a supplier who can assist you with alternate products if the standard materials don’t work for a particular situation.

Simple Financing and Payment: Cash flow is always a significant factor in construction. Financing helps you to keep the cash coming in while you make small payments on expensive purchases over time. Planning ahead and understanding your payment options is important when trying to stay both on schedule and on budget.

Choosing a supply partner who provides financial consideration for preferred contractors is one method to assist in managing possible cash flow challenges. Find a supplier who will collaborate with you to keep materials coming to your site through financing or a charge account. Legacy Materials offers financing options and expert assistance to craft a solution that best fits your project.

Excellent Customer Service: Customer service is undeniably the most important factor to look for in a supplier. Just as you strive every day to provide your clients with the most pleasing experience, it is right to deal with a supplier who prioritizes you.

However, customer service extends beyond the initial point of contact. Every company wants to make a sale. A really customer-focused construction materials provider will also strive to establish a connection, following up on orders and informing you about new products. They’ll do everything they can to make every project easier and work fast to fix any concerns. Consider choosing a provider who offers unique customer assistance.

Compliance with guidelines: It is also critical that you check that the supplier you have chosen has worked in this area for a reasonable period and is familiar with the working procedures of the construction industry. Select just those organizations that strictly adhere to the building guidelines. Reputable firms like Legacy Materials take great pleasure in their long-term dedication to upholding the standards of their products and production procedures for state-certified construction materials. As a result, finding a supplier compliant with your state’s guidelines is critical for all contractors involved in state infrastructure projects.

Superior quality materials: One of the most significant factors to examine is the quality of the materials supplied. Make sure to thoroughly inspect the delivered supplies to confirm that they meet the required standards. Cheap materials may be of poor quality and would cost you more in the long run.

Reliable Delivery and Logistics: As a contractor, you recognize that even little delays in your project can lead to dissatisfied consumers and financial losses. To avoid delays, you must obtain the required items as soon as possible. When they are late, they cause delays and disrupt your schedule. You require a supplier with flexible delivery schedules to ensure that materials are delivered on time. A fleet of delivery vehicles is an added benefit. If raw materials are damaged, or if there are delays while you await separate supplies, you are responsible in the eyes of your consumer. Understanding your supplier’s delivery methods and managing logistical issues can keep your projects on schedule and prevent costly delays.

Why choose Legacy Materials as your building material supplier?

Your projects are only as excellent as the materials you use to build them. As a result, pick the best construction material supplier to ensure high-quality results. Where can you get excellent supplies in your region for your projects?

Legacy Materials is a women-owned (WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise) company that supplies construction supplies for a number of sectors. As an Iowa Economic Development Authority Certified Targeted Small Business (TSB), we deliver excellent service and certified materials to clients in Central Iowa who are creating neighborhoods and commercial projects. Legacy Materials satisfies all criteria, including compliance, infrastructure, logistical assistance, and financing options making us a perfect partner for any contractor working on state or municipal projects.

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