A Quality Standard for Deicing Materials

A Quality Standard for Deicing Materials

Clear Roads takes over the qualified winter snow and ice control products list from the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters group. Are standards on the horizon for commercial contractors?

September 19, 2019

There is on-going and increased interest in the quality of products which we put down for winter snow and ice control.   

With upwards of 25 million tons of road salt and related products hitting the North American environment each year, focus on products that contain unwanted contaminants is a growing area of focus and opportunity.

Specifications for road salt used by commercial snow and ice management companies are generally on the order of “whatever you have” with few commercial contractors even looking at quality and getting certificates of analysis for the products that they buy.

Be aware that municipal government is continuing to work hard to develop a set of standard specifications for products used in winter maintenance that are fully qualified by third party labs and for compliance with certifications. To that end, the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters have maintained a list of qualified winter snow and ice control products.

As more and more states and municipalities that are not located in the Pacific Northwest have tried to use their standard, they are now moving all of the certifications and specification work to Clear Roads.

For those of you unfamiliar with this group. Clear Roads is a national research consortium focused on rigorous testing of winter maintenance materials, equipment and methods for use by highway maintenance crews.

Since 2004, Clear Roads has grown to include 36 member agencies, each contributing $25,000 annually to fund research and technology transfer efforts. Representatives from the participating departments of transportation meet twice a year to discuss and prioritize projects, share effective practices, and review research results.

Other activities include

  • Evaluating winter maintenance materials, equipment and methods under real-world conditions.
  • Developing specifications and recommendations.
  • Studying and promoting innovative techniques and technologies that will save agencies money, improve safety and increase efficiency.
  • Supporting technology transfer by developing practical field guides and training curriculum to promote the results of research projects.

While this new control group will likely have little to no impact initially on commercial snow fighter use of winter ice control products, the direction on a national scale with Clear Roads seems to be gaining traction.   

To that end, Clear Roads issued the following notice in early August of this year:

“For many years, the Qualified Products List (QPL) maintained by the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters (PNS) association has served as a resource for agencies across the country, identifying deicing chemicals and additives that meet established standards for corrosiveness and impact on the environment.

"As the QPL continues to grow, Clear Roads will be overseeing the product testing and administration for the list, which is now called the Clear Roads QPL."

We encourage all parties to keep an eye on the Clear Roads QPL and to understand if your suppliers have products meeting this standard. This may help in cases where you have environmentally sensitive properties and snow removal needs and want to present options under a 3rd party certification for the suitability of winter products for your use.

Refer to the following links for more information on this new group that will oversee the former PNS qualified products lists:




Rob English is the president of Chemical Solutions Inc. and is a regular Snow Magazine contributor.