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On PlowSite.com, the online discussion forum (and part of the Turf family) a participant asked about ice control methods:

“We are thinking about switching most of our ice control from bulk salt to liquid and I want to make sure I’m not missing anything since there is quite a learning curve! I know quite a few will tell me not to switch… I’ve literally read almost every thread on PlowSite.com!liquid deicing

Our main reason for switching is logistics. Liquid will give us more options. I can pre-make and store 2,000 gal. at a time. Right now, we can only store about 10 tons of salt at a time at a cost of $175 per ton. The only equipment I have to load salt is a mini skid steer at a shop outside of town, which takes an hour. With liquid, I can fill in 10 minutes and have more volume on hand. We will be making the brine and storing it in a 1,650 gal. tank with another two IBC totes pre-filled in town. I’m planning a solution of 23.3% with bagged solar salt at a cost of about .42¢/gal. For additive, we’ll use AMP from EnviroTech at a cost gallon of $2.15/gal. So a total cost of $2.57/gal. I’ll be adding 80 gal. of AMP per 400 gal. of brine, giving me an 80/20 blend. I want the higher blend because most accounts will be post treated and we get cold and windy. If anyone has any tips, I would appreciate it.” —author, WY

Here’s what respondents had to say (edited for content and clarity):

“Might be easier to fill your tank with 330 gal. of AMP and 1320 gal. of brine and fill it in one shot?.” —Vaughan, ON

“You are correct, assuming I can fill the whole storage tank at once. Most likely, I’ll be making brine as I use it.” — author, WY

“These comments made me aware of something I never thought of. There is no need to have a skid steer to load if you have brine delivered to tanks. This never occurred to me. I’m shocked I never noticed this!” — Cobourg, ON

ice control“Yep! This is a huge deal for us. The spray unit I am looking at can even self-load in under five minutes!” —author, WY

“I think you figured your costs per gal. wrong. 42¢ per gal. of brine. If you’re making an 80/20 blend with AMP, in 100 gal., you have 80 gal. of brine at $33.60 and 20 gal. of AMP at $43. That gives you a cost per gal. of .76¢ for an 80/20 mix of brine and AMP. Also, the AMP doesn’t stay in solution with brine over time. It would need to have the tanks stirred prior to use. A lot of people forget this, which is why they don’t store it pre mixed.” — AK

“I believe you’re right. I did a first test run on the brine maker. It did well but I’ll need to use more salt than I originally thought in the upper tank to get all the way to 23.3%. I’ll know better numbers after a couple more batches. As to storing pre-mixed, I asked my EnviroTech rep. He told me as long as it’s not sitting in my main storage tank for too long (months), it should be fine. Either way, it wouldn’t be a big deal to fill additive.” —author, WY

“So the ‘right’ number is about 2.2 pounds of salt per gal. of brine. But that’s assuming you have super nice pure salt. Frequently, I find it can be 2.6 pounds. You’ll get some insoluable material at the tank bottom and mileage may vary. Do you have a professional brine maker? Or are you “cooking” with a couple tanks and pumps? Making brine is already frustrating—I don’t know anyone that didn’t quickly outgrow it or cause some kind of catastrophe using his/her own model. It’s best to buy the brine until you have the volume to legitimize spending the coin to set up your own professional operation. When you’re making brine, do it inside. There’s a huge difference between testing salinity at different temperatures and there is a chart for adjustments. I wish I still had that chart. I used to have to let the brine get to 60˚F before testing it. Lots of wasted time.” — AK

“I have a hot rod brine maker at the moment. It didn’t do too bad the first time. We made our first batch in about 30 to 45 minutes with the pump on idle. I have the temperature chart actually and used it. Our water temperature is about 50˚F. I actually found a digital salinity tester that adjusts the percentage by temperature. I would love to buy a professional brine maker, but first I need to see if liquid over bulk salt works for us.” —author, WY

“It’s definitely a volume thing. Liquids work at lower temperatures than granular. If your area doesn’t get super-cold for an extended time and you aren’t doing a lot of acreage, a professional brine maker may not pay off. We were doing close to 9,000 gal. a storm before we invested in a brine maker. [But] I remember the days before. Too much effort. I’d just buy the brine from someone at that level.” — AK

“I would like to get it pre-made… kind of. The only pre-made around here would be MeltDown Apex™ at over $2.50 per gal. And I would have to order 4,200 gal. at a time. I’m the only other person in town that will be doing liquid and I’ve had four other companies ask to try it—either by selling them brine or doing their lots.” —author, WY

“Well, at least you have customers that are interested in brine. You’ve got some good potential since no one else there is doing it yet.” — AK