How to Use Grit / De-icing Salt on Paths

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When temperatures plummet, snow begins to fall and icy mornings become normal. It’s crucial to be prepared for conditions such as these, not only for your own safety but for the safety of everyone else in your household or business.

In this article we will detail the correct way to use grit and salt, and how to spread them so you can de-ice paths safely.

What is gritting?

The process of gritting consists of spreading rock salt or grit on paths, pavements, roads and motorways to prevent them from freezing in cold weather. Roads are gritted to help minimise travel disruption and keep the flow of traffic moving along, whereas paths and pavements are gritted to prevent people from slipping on the ice when walking.

Salting, on the other hand, uses pure sea salt. This is pure white deicing salt so it prevents staining and residue and it is a plentiful resource.

How do I grit a surface?

If you own or manage a piece of land then it is prudent to de-ice it in cold conditions. This applies regardless of whether the place is your home, or you own the company where you work. Public roads and paths are however not your responsibility. When snow and ice are forecast, the local authority may send out gritting lorries to do this.

If you are wondering how to grit a surface, the trick is to spread the product generously and evenly. To do this effectively over areas that have a high level of footfall or wheeled traffic, it’s a good idea to use a grit spreader.

Grit spreaders have been designed to spread grit and salt over roads and driveways, as well as other products such as seed, fertilizer and weed killer over agricultural areas in some circumstances. They can be very useful in large spaces as they can spread products efficiently in a short period of time.

They contain the grit or salt in a hopper that often features an adjustable opening to control the volume of spread, and the grit spreader is towed or pushed along to distribute it evenly along the ground.

When it comes to gritting a surface, there are a number of other things to remember too including:

  • Do not use warm water to melt ice – the water may refreeze and turn into black ice which is extremely slippery and hazardous both to walk or drive on.
  • Remove the top layer of snow first – use a snow scoop or a brush to remove fresh, loose snow so that the grit can be directly applied to ice and melt it effectively.

Pay close attention to paths or steps – grit and salt is used to quickly melt snow and ice from paths and steps and prevent re-freezing. You should take extra care when de-icing paths and steps to ensure they are completely safe for people to walk across safely.

How should I store grit and ice?

When not required imminently, ideally grit and salt should be stored in dedicated grit bins. These are large, lidded plastic bins that store grit and salt long-term ready for use in the winter.

The size of grit bins ranges from small domestic ones all the way up to large 500kg capacity roadside bins for big roads and play areas.

It is important to note that if salt gets wet it is effectively useless. That’s why you should invest in a high-quality grit bin that can keep your materials safe (and dry) from the elements all year round. Most bins are made from impermeable plastic which is enough to protect the grit or salt, however, some people choose to also invest in box covers to further protect the materials.

When is the best time to grit paths and roads?

The most effective time to distribute grit is early in the morning. This is not only because ice and snow are much easier to remove when fresh, but gritting in the morning will also ensure the ground is ready ahead of early morning traffic or pedestrians.

It is also recommended to re-grit the surface in the evening in advance of peak traffic flows as staff and visitors leave for the day, and to prevent the ice from refreezing as evening progresses and temperatures fall.