Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Winter ready Wednesdays: Salt Brine

Winter is coming. Despite the mild autumn weather the majority of the state is still experiencing, snow and ice will most likely arrive in our forecast. Fortunately, KDOT has an effective tool to help combat slick roads: Salt brine

Salt brine is a proactive approach to battling inclement weather. Last year, KDOT used approximately 5 million gallons to prepare road surfaces for snow and ice. Each of the 112 sub areas in Kansas has at least 1,000-10,000 gallon storage tanks.  But how is this salty mixture created and what determines how and when it is used?

Salt Brine is typically created by filling a mixing tank with rock salt and then adding water. 

The water then percolates through the rock salt. 

The salt/water mixture overflows into a holding tank, where it is measured with a hydrometer. If the brine reads 23% salt (or 91 % saturation) it is ready to be used on the roads.

Salt Brine is applied to the road surface. It is most effective when it has a chance to stick to the road after the water evaporates. 
KDOT doesn’t rely on salt brine for every weather event. It is most effective when it has a chance to stick to the roads after the brine water evaporates. If there is a rain changing to snow weather event, using salt brine wouldn’t work as effectively, the precipitation would wash it away.

Because the salt brine is only the most effective until temperatures reach 25 degrees, some areas around the state are starting to use sugar beet juice mixed with the salt brine. Beet juice, when added to the salt brine can help melt ice at near-zero degree temperatures.

As the winter months move in, KDOT will use a variety of methods to clear roads and infrastructure and help Kansans travel safely.  For the next several Wednesdays, we will share with you more ways that KDOT works to keep Kansas moving during inclement weather.

For up to date road conditions, check or dial 51

1 comment:

  1. Thank you all for keeping our roads safe during the winter months!