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07/07/2021

Salt remains the best de-icing solution, EUsalt study finds

The EUsalt report on the “Environmental impact of winter maintenance with salt” finds that salt is performing best when compared with other de-icing solutions based on safety performance, availability and effect on the environment.

The first use of salt in winter maintenance in Europe traces back to 1879 (Paris) and is today the most widely used de-icer. Spreading techniques and service strategies have greatly improved over time. Available national statistics show a falling or constant salt consumption trend irrespective of the increase in traffic and road lengths.

Gordon Dunn, Chair of EUsalt’s De-icing Working Group said, “We have been noticing lately a growing anti-salt movement in the winter maintenance sector. This reason together with the urgent need to become climate neutral by 2050 made us want to look into more detail at how salt is performing compared with other de-icing solutions and where the areas of improvement are.”

Calcium and magnesium chlorides, formate or acetate are some of the alternatives to salt. While they present some advantages such as less corrosion, better effectiveness at low temperatures, these are often counterbalanced by other disadvantages. Higher dosages, higher costs, lower adhesion level are some of them.

Salt producers deliver a high-quality de-icing salt in accordance with the European standard EN 16811-1 and some European countries apply even higher standards. The European technical specification CEN/TS 16811-3 regulates the other liquid and non-liquid de-icing agents but, so far, no alternative to salt satisfies all the requirements of this specification.

Salt is a natural resource and does not require any industrial process for its elaboration. A sustainable use of resources and continuous efforts to ensure the lowest possible ecological footprint are applied in the salt production techniques. Salt availability in Europe is great and emissions of greenhouse gases can be minimised further by a domestic production of salt and the ‎right choice of transport means.

The report, which is also a good tool for road infrastructure managers, also includes recommendations to optimise the amount of salt spread. Direct brine application is one of the most effective technologies for saving salt while providing excellent winter services.

The report is based on research conducted by experts Franz Götzfried ‎(Salt Research + Consulting) and Stéphanie Gaudé‎ (Cerema) and was launched at the EUsalt annual conference on 17 June. 

Download the report 

Watch the interview on the key findings of the study 

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