Salt is a mineral that is made up of sodium and chloride. It is used all over the world as a food seasoning, but it also has many practical applications. One of these applications is as a deicer for roads in cold climates. Municipalities began using salt on roadways around the mid-20th century as an alternative to sand, which can be ineffective at melting ice and can clog storm drains if too much of it is used. When salt is spread on ice or snow, it dissolves and creates a brine. This brine helps to lower the freezing point of water, which then causes the ice or snow to melt.
Today, salt is still one of the most popular ways to keep roads during winter weather events. In fact, salt usage has increased since the 1960s and salt use in America is now approximately 22 million tons per year. Here in Western New York, we use salt as an effective way of keeping roadways safe, but there are some questions about its safety for your asphalt. It’s important to know the answer before you start using salt on your property!
Is Road Salt Safe for Asphalt?
There have been many different studies done regarding whether or not road salt is safe for your asphalt. Some municipal leaders claim that road salt can cause damage to the aggregate within your pavement over time, but others believe it is no harm to blacktop surfaces. The truth is that salt is very effective at lowering the freezing point of water. However, when salt dissolves in ice and snow on asphalt, it can cause damage by softening aggregate particles within your pavement. Over time, this salt will start to break down these aggregates until they’re too small for any mortar or binder to hold together – resulting in potholes! This deterioration process could take several years depending on how much salt you put out during winter events. If salt accumulates over time, it may speed up this corrosive action as well. Salt also increases the surface temperature of asphalt when exposed to air temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Since blacktop absorbs heat quicker than it releases heat, salt can make asphalt feel warmer to the touch. This increase in surface temperature could cause damage if salt accumulates over time.
Does Road Salt Have a Negative Effect on The Environment?
The use of salt on roadways also has environmental consequences. When salt is used to melt snow and ice, it can runoff into storm drains and waterways. This salt can have a negative effect on aquatic life by disrupting the natural balance of these ecosystems. In addition, salt can corrode metal infrastructure such as bridges and roadway signs over time.
Are There Alternatives to Road Salt?
Yes! There are alternatives to consider if you do not want to use salt on your asphalt. Sand is one alternative, but it does have some disadvantages as mentioned previously. You can also try using calcium chloride or magnesium chloride brine instead of salt – these deicers actually melt ice and snow at lower temperatures than salt and they’re less likely to have an ecological impact or corrode metal infrastructure in the process.
What Can I Do To Protect My Asphalt Pavement?
Try applying an asphalt sealer every 3 to 5 years. This protective layer will help guard against corrosion that may be caused by salt runoff or airborne salt particulates from roadways nearby.
So, what’s the verdict? Is road salt safe for your asphalt? The answer isn’t black or white – there are pros and cons to using salt on our roads in winter weather events. One thing is for sure, salt has been a very effective way of keeping roads safe from snow and ice. Whether or not salt use will continue to be an effective strategy in the future remains up to debate.