How Road Salt Works

A major snowstorm is expected here in the northeast tomorrow.  In preparation, salt trucks have been out in force across the region.

Rock Salt – large pieces of NaCl – removes snow and ice from roads and walkways by lowering the freezing point of water.  Essentially, it melts frozen precipitation into a briny liquid and makes it harder to re-freeze, even if the air temperature is below freezing. In extremely cold conditions, however, when temperatures fall below 15°F, rock salt becomes less effective at de-icing surfaces.

While salting roads can help reduce traffic accidents, it does have negative environmental impacts. So, as with diet, it is best to use salt sparingly.

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator and visual artist working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.