As a regular part of our snow-fighting toolkit, we often treat roadways before a snow storm, with salt brine, which helps us use less salt and spend less money overall.
The application of salt brine as an anti-icing agent is a Federal Highway Administration recommended practice and has been adopted by many cities across Iowa, including here in the Des Moines metro. We make our own salt brine from water and salt. The salt is from a salt mine in Kansas; it’s just regular, unadulterated sodium chloride – table salt – in its larger, unrefined, rock size. The water is regular Des Moines Water Works water, straight from the tap. We do not accept or include any byproducts of fracking in our brine.
The 13 trucks used to apply salt brine let us dramatically shorten the amount of time that the full snow fleet must spend out on the road. The fleet includes 100 pieces of equipment which allows us to make the streets safer, sooner.
We do accept some risk when making the decision to brine or not as it has to be done days in advance of the storm. While not every forecast comes to exact prediction, that doesn’t mean the brine goes to waste. Unless it rains, brine applied before a winter storm that doesn’t materialize will likely still be there when the snow finally starts to fall. That's why our team considers any precipitation in the forecast as well as expected or forecast temperatures when making a final decision on whether or not to send out our brine trucks.