Tag Archives: de-icer

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


“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


There’ll be salt brine on Kitsap County roads this winter

The in basket: John Quatermass of Gig Harbor says he’s heard Kitsap County plans to introduce a salt product to its battle with roadway ice and snow this winter.  He wonders if it’s true.

The out basket: Yes, says Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works. He will be announcing the change in a day or two, with a question-and-answer format that addresses the most common question motorists have about salt – how much car damage will it cause. 

The product to be used isn’t granular salt, but a brine solution that will be sprayed on the roads and contain 23.3 percent sodium chloride. The upcoming new release calls it “the safest and most cost-effective anti-icing product available.”

Many people “have stories about how chemicals affected their cars when they lived back east,” it says, seeking to allay fears created by that experience.

This area’s snow and ice storms are relatively mild and brief, the news release says, and are usually followed by rain that washes corrosive anti-icers off the roadway. Further, it says, modern cars are much less vulnerable to corrosion due largely to what they are made of. Still, washing the underside of your car intermittently during the winter is a good idea, it says. 

The state has used a different chemical it sprays on trouble areas before ice is expected to form, inhibiting its formation. It accounts for the parallel dark lines you see on freeway ramps, bridges and curves during cold weather. Duke Stryker, head of the state maintenance department here, said the state uses some salt brine, but none here yet.

The county news release says alternatives to the salt brine cost two to three times more and cites a state transportation department study that found little difference in the corrosive properties of the brine compared to other ice-inhibiting products. 

It cited another state study that said environmental impacts, as measured on Highway 97 at Peshastin Creek in eastern Washington, were insignificant.

The entire news release will be on the public works Web site, www.kitsapgov.com/pw/ by the end of the week, Doug says.