Homemade salt brine is a challenge

 

The in basket: Hugh McAleavy from way back in New Jersey, who read on the kitsapsun.com blog for Road Warrior about Kitsap County’s use of a salt brine to control ice said, “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?”

The out basket: It’s not a matter of stirring some salt into water, according to Tony Carroll, an engineering

technician with the county, and getting a usable batch is beyond the capabilities or at least the patience of most people.

You’d need rock salt to begin, and Tony says it would be a lot easier just to put the salt on the sidewalk and driveway.

To make brine, “you have to build a dual-tank system that allows water to

percolate through the salt to get the right amount of sodium chloride in

the water,” he said. “During this process you periodically test the solution with a

hydrometer to ensure the optimum 23 percent solution needed to make brine

effective. 

“Higher or lower concentrations decrease its effectiveness.

Because salt products differ there is no standard ratio of salt to water

that allows you to just throw some salt in water and stir. Much like

cooking, too much salt ruins the batch. If there is not enough salt, you

can always add more, but you still need a way to ‘taste’ the batch

so you don’t ruin it,” he said.

Then there’s the question of how to apply it. 

“You could use your garden sprayer,” Tony said, “but you better plan some maintenance because the product is corrosive and can ruin your equipment without regular cleaning and maintenance. Salt brine is effective and works well in

large-scale operation using professional application and maintenance

techniques, but can take a lot of time and money to use at the homeowner

level.”

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