Wasting Away...your car

We have actually had very little snow and ice this winter and for that I am thankful. But from what I hear from customers to the East it has been one bad winter already.

The other day I was driving in Des Moines and they were spraying the roads with liquid deicer. I thought it seemed way too far ahead of any predicted snowfall. I have heard from several people that this liquid deicer known as "Brine" is particularly harmful to the environment as well as extremely corrosive. I decided to do some research.

The news is good, but mostly bad. Our state uses brine as a preventative de-icer. Our brine like most states is simply Salt Water, that is Sodium Chloride and Water. So at least it is not some super corrosive, right. That is true, but two things make it highly corrosive to automobiles and equipment. First of all it is in it's most corrosive state as a liquid, and of course all this liquid is sprayed up from the tires into every crack and crevice you can imagine where it immediately goes to work, and that is especially true of cars that go from road into a non freezing areas, like a parking garage. The other problem is timing. Because as the state and local road departments would like to apply this brine right before a snow or ice event, they don't have near the equipment or labor force for that. So, as you might imagine they get started well ahead of any precipitation, based on the weather forecast. Ha, as anyone in the upper midwest can tell you the weather forecast more that 12 hours out is like throwing darts blindfolded, so unfortunately we see many applications of Brine that are unneeded. I also think that they use this brine as a way to save labor as I see them spray it the day before a snow but not be back on the roads again until after they are more trecharis than they should be. 

So outside of moving out of snow country is there a better solution to melt ice? Many states have experimented with non-corrosive de-icers like Calcium Magnesium Acetate with good luck. But even though the break-even cost considering less damage is attractive the upfront cost of the product scares most state and city managers away. Which I think is too bad. You would sure think in 2014 we could come up with some alternatives. Especially since our roads are crumbling away at an alarming rate. I suppose it could be worse. One un-named city in Iowa uses Coal ash as they have a free supply. "Cinders" as they once were called. Not as corrosive as salt but coal dust in the air and ground water? Really not a good idea at all and there has been, as you might imagine huge push back from residents that are rightfully concerned. Rusty cars are much better than, say black lung, for sure!

Oh, one other thing to think about. Running your car through the carwash to keep it free from salt and brine is a great idea. But make sure you use a reputable car wash. There are corners that can be cut in that business with salt too. Not to mention some iffy standards and rules for recycled water.

I know, I know, moving is the only thing that really makes any sense. :-)