Road Salt and Liquid De-Icer Testing

Canadian winters are often snowy and cold. When ice and snow build up on roadways, this can lead to treacherous driving and serious accidents. Snow removal using plows and graders is an important part of keeping our roadways safe. 

But even after plowing, ice can remain on road surfaces. Many municipalities and agencies use de-icing or anti-icing agents to help keep roadways safe to use.

Rock salt—often mixed with sand or gravel—is frequently used. It’s important to remember that using salt on roadways can have unintended consequences, such as corrosion to various road infrastructure and vehicles. In addition, salt run-off can be toxic to plants and animals. Other materials such as calcium chloride, magnesium chloride or organic compounds, such as calcium magnesium acetate or potassium formate, can also be used. 

Organic compounds are often byproducts of common agricultural refining processes. Many of these mixtures have proven effective at lower temperatures and can remain effective for longer periods of time.

Agencies using de-icing materials want to ensure its effectiveness while at the same time, safeguarding against any environmental impacts. SRC Environmental Analytical Laboratories offers a variety of tests on de-icing materials. Tests are done in accordance with PNS (Pacific Northwest Snowfighters) methods. 

For de-icing materials, there are two common test packages:

Liquid De-icer: Chemical and Physical Characteristics

Package includes pH, Mercury, water soluble Cyanide, Specific gravity, Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Lead, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Zinc, Corrosion Rate, Total Settleable Solids and Solids Passing #10 Sieve, as well calculated concentration of the active ingredient(s): Sodium Chloride, Calcium Chloride and Magnesium Chloride 

Road Salts (modified from ASTM E534)

Package includes water soluble Chloride, Sodium Chloride Calculated, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sulfate and water insolubles