Salt Brine

The weather changes quickly in Vermont  especially during the winter. Here at our office at old Fort Ethan Allen in Colchester, the snow squall below changed the barren ground into a white snow patch in a matter of minutes after it blew across Lake Champlain. Earlier this week the temperature in Burlington reached 54 degrees F!


VTrans District 5 down the street uses salt brine here in Chittenden Country. Salt brine is mixed to a ratio of 77 percent water and 23 percent salt. It can be applied directly to the road as a liquid or used to coat solid salt before applying to the road as a slurry. Temperature is key in application. As the pavement temperature drops a diminishing level of return on salt is reached. At 30 degrees F you need one pound of salt to melt 45 pounds of ice. At 20 degrees you need five pounds of salt and at 10 degrees F  you need nine pounds of salt. The benefits of using liquid salt brine or solid salt/salt brine mixture are:  it sticks to the road, multiple lanes can be salted in one pass, it goes on quicker (saving time and money), it reduces salt use and it can be applied prior to a storm. The estimated cost of salt brine is approximately 12 cents per gallon. Like traditional rock salt, salt brine is just meant for paved roads. Calcium chloride works at a lower temperature than salt, but costs approximately $1 per gallon.

We addressed the use of salt brine in our September 2008 newsletter article that discussed the salt shortage of 2007-08. A few towns around the state were starting to implement its use for winter road maintenance then.  

Has anyone been using salt brine this winter? Are you using it throughout your community? Just using it to experiment on some dangerous intersections? What materials are you using? Post a comment below and share your experience with us and others.


About vtlocalroads

The Vermont Local Roads Program at Saint Michael’s College is part of the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), a nationwide effort financed jointly by the Federal Highway Administration and individual State Departments of Transportation. Its purpose is to provide road and bridge know-how to municipal people involved with highways. There are LTAP Centers in 50 states and Puerto Rico and six Native American locations. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations presented on this page are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of FHWA, VAOT or Saint Michael’s College. All references to proprietary items in this publication are not endorsements of any company or products. Sponsored by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont Local Roads Program provides information, training and technical assistance to cities, towns and villages in Vermont. This is done by newsletters, seminars and workshops, distribution of publications and by response to requests.
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