2012 Salt & Deicing Trends

2012 Salt & Deicing Trends

Snow Magazine compares three years worth of data to track trends regarding bulk salt prices, profit margins, and operational strategy and client preferences.

October 15, 2012
Snow Magazine Staff
Equipment & Technology Research Salt & Deicing

When it comes to your salt and deicing services, how does your snow removal operation match up?

In early September, Snow Magazine surveyed its readers on their salt and deicing trends and practices as they geared up for Winter 2012-13. Then we took that data and compared it against data collected in 2010 and 2011. Here’s what we found.


Editor’s note: Gross profit data was not collected in 2010.


Uncertainty about the weather coming off of a disappointing winter, coupled with above average material reserves that went unused, appears to be influencing how contractors a making purchasing decisions. Snow fighters appear to be making the purchasing decisions at the same time as years past. However, contractors indicate that heading into Winter 2012-13, about a third (27 percent) plan to commit to their full amount, while another third (30 percent) will commit to half or more of the amount they expect to need, leaving less than half (43 percent) purchasing less than half of their total amount.

Source: Snow Magazine research

Despite the notion that the “Winter That Wasn’t” left salt bins full and reduced demand heading into this winter, snow fighters are paying a bit more for bulk rock salt than they were last winter, according to data collected in early September. However, contractors didn’t seem put off by the slight price bump, with the majority 70 percent responding that they believe the price is the same as the previous year, compared to last winter with nearly a third 30 percent reported they were paying more than the previous winter. Overall, the majority of contractors 79 percent indicated they were paying less than $100 per ton for their bulk rock salt.


Professional snow and ice management contractors indicate they’re using less salt per acre to achieve acceptable results. Less than a quarter of contractors (22 percent) responded they were using more than a half ton of salt per acre, compared to 30 percent in 2010.

Zero tolerance

Fewer contractors considered themselves to be “zero-tolerance contractors” than they did three years ago. The status peaked in 2011 with nearly two-thirds (69 percent) of contractors indicating they considered “zero-tolerance” regarding ice control. Nearly 10 percent fewer respondents (60 percent) felt that way this year.