How’s Kitsap’s new salt brine working this week?


The in basket: Mile Hill Drive near Woods Road in the area in which I live was treacherously icy Sunday morning, even though I had seen one of the Kitsap County’s tanker trucks there Saturday morning spraying the salt brine solution the county had introduced to its arsenal of ice and snow fighters. By Monday morning, the road was bare and dry.

I asked if the solution was living up to expectations.

The out basket: Doug Bear, spokesman for the county’s public works, said he ” had quite the opposite experience,” finding the roads near the Old Clifton Road church where he is directing a play to be bare and dry most of the weekend. “Overall it was very successful in most areas,” he said. “The key is having a period of dry road to apply the brine before the freeze. Based on my conversation with the road supervisors this morning salt-brine is an effective tool to add to our snow and ice arsenal.

He took exception to a suggestion I had heard that reducing cracked windshield claims against the county from the small rocks in sand spread on the roads was a motivating factor in going to brine. 

“It seems a bit cynical to me to assume we would place damage claims above road safety,” Doug said. . “We still use sand and always will. There are many applications where sand is the best tool to use. Salt brine is not a cure-all, and has its limits. It does allow us to use less sand under certain circumstances, which should, ultimately lead to less claims. “But it certainly isn’t even a benefit we considered when we made the decision to use salt brine. “We want to make roads as safe as possible in inclement weather, and whether it is salt or sand, we will use whatever it takes to reach that goal.

The brine solution did cut the amount of sand that would otherwise have been needed on the county roads last weekend nearly in half, he said.

Thursday’s heavy snow was another matter.

“The primary benefit the brine mixture offers is the ability to keep snow and ice from adhering to road surfaces, rather than melting snow. This helps keep roads clear in light snow, and helps make plowing easier in heavier snow. Once you get past a couple of inches of snow, cars compact whatever there is and that can inhibit the ability of the salt brine to prevent adhesion to the road surface. This results in the compact snow and ice on the roads today.

” It does make plowing more efficient because the bond between the compact snow and ice and the road is not as strong.”

The county expects it to remain effective with temperatures into the teens and maybe single digits.

“We use salt brine the same way we use sand,” Doug said. “It’s used first on hills, at intersections, around corners, in areas that remain shaded most of the day, bridge decks, and known areas that are prone to icing. It is also used, like sand, in other areas as conditions warrant. We have three trucks equipped to distribute salt brine, one for each road district. They follow the same priorities described in the county’s snow plowing plan in choosing where to spray.

You can see that plan online at


15 thoughts on “How’s Kitsap’s new salt brine working this week?

  1. That must be the white film that is covering the cars. We’ll have a couple doses: one from the initial application, then a couple more as the snow melts and becomes a spray from tires. Especially the big rigs. Can’t win.
    Has there been any studies as to the environmental impact of the salt leaching into the streams?

  2. I personally wouldn’t know how the brine works, I work downtown next to the ferry terminal and 2nd street going to the foot ferry pickup is iced all over, I called DOT and was told it was a secondary route and they never came out, when I had left for the day some one had stolen some rug from the hotel to get out of the parking garages which I suppose is now frozen to the street, the hotel probably lost several hundred dollars worth of carpet because the DOT never came out and someone had to do what they needed to do to get out,I noticed wrecks on that street all day. dose the kitsap county DOT have 1 or 2 trucks to take care of this problem? All I heard all day was how kitsap DOT dropped the ball badly yesterday and a lot of people including myself is quite hacked off at them, time for an election!

  3. Todd The city of Bremerton would be responsible for Second Street in the city. The state DOT and Kitsap County would not normally respond to a problem on that street.

  4. Why don’t the state, county, or cites put chain or snow-tire restrictions on the roads?

    I can’t think of another state that just lets people drive anything with any kind of tires on the roads (with the exception of the highways over the passes)and never requires chains when the roads clearly dictate that need! I often wonder how many accidents would be prevented by this simple regulation.

    Just take a look at the TV news and see all the cars sliding on the roads and you NEVER see a single on of them with chains on the cars! You also never see the ones that do have chains sliding down the road.

  5. I come out of Minnesota, Ya, You Betcha! We have been using the salt brine there for a few years now and the statement by Doug Bear, that the brine must be applied to a DRY roadway BEFORE it snows is correct. It is a waste of time and money to apply the salt brine after the snow has fallen.

  6. Stupid comment time:

    Most drivers are griping about the recent snowfall. However, on the bright side, the deep, compacted, icy, slippery snow on the roads is now equal in hight to the irritating, traffic-slowing speed bumps/humps. The present conditions allow drivers to drive 60 mph through these child-clogged, pedestrian friendly residential areas. At least until the thaw.

  7. For safety use traction devises like Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats for Snow and Ice. They simply fasten on your shoes or boots to give the extra bite in the snow assist from slipping and falling.

    Or use a spark to get around. Be careful but enjoy this rare treat of lasting snow.
    Sharon O’Hara

  8. I have to believe that the mentality in Seattle is being used in Kitsap County.

    If the state can utilize salt without complaints from car owners what is wrong with using salt on our county roads during snow? How often do we get snow here? Unbelievable the green mentality that is being incorporated into everything. People will continue to be put to the bottom of the environmental chain.

  9. I made my previous statement based on this portion of the referenced Seattle Times article:

    “Seattle’s stand against using salt is not shared by the state Department of Transportation, which has battled the latest storms in Western Washington with de-icer, 5,800 tons of salt and 11,500 cubic yards of salt and sand mix, said spokesman Travis Phelps.”

    There is a difference between salt brine and salt. I believe that is why I-5 returns to bare pavement whereas in Kitsap County we end up with washboard roads. Like I said, environment takes priority over what has been proven to work.

  10. The top of the environmental chain IS people….and the reason for care and caution…for the people in the next generation, that THIS generation doesn’t deplete our natural resources.

    What is the ”green’ objection to using salt?
    What happens to our environment if we do or don’t use it?

    DDT worked too, but we banned using it for good reason.
    Sharon O’Hara

  11. Sharon,

    “What is the ”green’ objection to using salt?
    What happens to our environment if we do or don’t use it?”

    If Kitsap County uses the same logic as King County there is a deadly scare that this salt could contaminate shallow wells or enter salmon streams and “possibly” harm salmon. Of course, this is only conjecture because nothing has been proven. If it had been, wouldn’t one believe that the state would quit using so much of it? Maybe “State” salt isn’t a contaminate by county or state standards. /s

  12. Salt??? Years ago, most states used actual salt, NaCl. Today, most state transportation depts have switched to CaCl, Calcium Chloride. What is used in WA??? Kitsap??? B’ton???

    NaCl ate up cars faster than a hungry termite in a new house. CaCl is more car-friendly. I haven’t a clue as how CaCl affects the environment.

  13. john,

    ” I haven’t a clue as how CaCl affects the environment.”

    That’s the problem. I believe that there are those who think they might know and therefore their ideas rule. Forget any study. Just assume. That, I believe, is the way it is being done.

  14. I would like to make a brine to use on my driveway and sidewalks. Can anyone advise the best type of salt to use to make the brine?

  15. I recently heard Kitsap county is salting the roads. Having lived
    in Iowa and Colorado for a great many years, and now a resident of
    Kitsap County for about 8 years…the rational side of my brain
    tells me that it would be absolutely insane to put salt on these
    roads and these rumors aren’t true. Now, I
    truly believe that the white dust I’m seeing IS salt.
    Do the car owners of this county have any say? I have several nice
    vehicles that I take very good care of. I absolutely don’t want
    them to start the never ending process of oxidation due to salt on
    the roads. I’ve spoken with close friend who all seem to
    agree…..please help organize a collective voice to stop this
    craziness. It would be great for the newspaper to research the
    actual evidence behind this.
    There is NO REASON to put salt on these roads. They won’t taste
    any better!! Nor will that help any driving conditions. It
    really just doesn’t snow here in any real amount to ever justify
    it! When it does snow, it melts in a couple of hours. Even in colorado where I grew up, they didn’t salt the roads
    because of the terrible mess it does to cars. People just had to
    learn how to drive-which isn’t that difficult to do.
    None of us want to watch our cars rust for no apparent reason. I
    would love to see this controversy stirred up a bit and to have
    Kitsap taxpayers have a voice here. After all, isn’t it yours and
    my tax dollars we are wasting???

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