Editor’s Notebook: Safe Salt Substitute?

Editor’s Notebook: Safe Salt Substitute?

Cost aside, Minnesota researchers see potential in potassium acetate as a deicer. Is it a viable alternative to rock salt?

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Since rock salt and its use as a deicing agent is getting so much negative media lately, here’s some food for thought on alternatives to rock salt. I came across an interesting salt-and-deicing news nugget that you may find interesting.

According to a Feb 12 Minnesota Public Radio report (http://bit.ly/2MF3rxN), the Minnesota Department of Transportation has been experimenting with potassium acetate as a viable alternative to road salt. Initial trials have been positive, with the deicer melting at lower temperatures than rock salt. Likewise, road crews don’t have to use as much of the liquid as solid rock salt, however the report didn’t specify application amounts or compare them to brine pretreatments.

Potassium acetate’s cost is higher than rock salt, according to the report, and again no dollar amount was given for comparison sake.

The downside, the liquid deicer may be harmful to aquatic wildlife. While more research is needed, if the findings turn out to be true, it would put the quest for a low-impact eco-friendly deicer back to square one.

Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine. If you have thoughts or feedback on this article, you can reach him at mzawacki@gie.net.