It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …and that means snow and ice!
Any savvy NJ homeowner, business owner, or contractor knows just how important it is to have rock salt on hand for the winter season, and this is especially true during an El Nino year.
In order to ensure that you have plenty of ice melt on hand in your hour of need, you need to know when to buy up the materials and in what quantity, as well as how to store it properly until it gets used.
Having a game plan for this is the key to surviving the season without stressing out or breaking your budget. The following tips will help you to put your plan together before it’s too late.
Buy Now and Rest Easy
We’ve had customers ask us in the past about whether or not it was really necessary for them to stock up on rock salt in advance. We strongly suggest that you do so for the following reasons:
- Avoid Stress – There are a surprising number of people who wait until the last minute to buy deicers and other supplies during the winter season. When the news channel announces that a storm is on the way, thousands of NJ and NY residents rush out to get ice melt, food, flashlights, etc. This means that streets are packed and the lines at the stores are very long – both of which cause a great deal of stress. Conversely, those who buy in advance can kick up their feet, relax and wait the storm out from the comfort of home.
- Stay Safe – Waiting until the weather gets nasty to head out and buy materials is a very bad idea as it can put you life at risk. When the snow starts to fall, streets become very slick and dangerous to drive upon. Getting out and buying your ice melting products when the weather is fair will keep you and your family out of harm’s way.
- Get the Best Deals – Pricing generally depends on supply and demand. The time before the temperatures drop and become too extreme is when ice melting materials will be at their lowest and most competitive rates. When the first major storms of the season start to hit, you can expect to see a spike in prices that can significantly impact your budget.
- Find What You’re Looking For – The early bird gets the worm (and his pick of the type of ice melt that he wants to use for his property). Each different type of rock salt is designed to suit different needs and the only way to ensure that yours are met is to buy up your supply before it sells out and becomes unavailable. This is especially true of materials that are on allocation. Magnesium chloride pellets, for example, are only available in limited quantities throughout the 2015-2016 season, so buying your materials earlier on will save you from the grief of having to settle for a different product at the last minute.
- Obtain an Ample Supply – As the season drags on, suppliers tend to start running out of rock salt and other ice melting materials. We’ve seen this happen in previous winters where the harsh winter lasted a lot longer than originally anticipated. The result was a shortage in rock salt that caused prices to go up and store shelves to empty out. When this happens, you are often forced to purchase less material than you actually need to adequately cover your property, causing you to skimp and subject yourself to hazardous conditions.
Choosing the Right Rock Salt
As mentioned previously, one of the key advantages to buying rock salt early in the season enables you to have your pick of the different types of ice melting materials on the market. This won’t mean a lot to you, though, unless you actually take the time to learn which product is best for your specific needs.
While we urge you to talk with your supplier about your requirements and desires, this breakdown will highlight the materials that are best suited for various customer needs:
- Budget Friendly – If sticking to a low-cost budget is your primary concern, you’ll find that it’s best to stick with the basic rock salts like Ice Patrol and Halite rock salt. These materials are extremely effective and affordable.
- Child Friendly – The safety of children is a major issue for families, schools and daycares. Safer Than Salt is a great ice melt that works at low temperatures while being less hazardous and safer for children to be around. The flakes are also colored so you can keep an eye on where rock salt has been applied.
- Pet Friendly – If you’ve got four-legged friends in your life, it’s smart to choose an ice melt like Safer Than Salt Breeder’s Preferred, which is formulated to protect your pets from becoming poisoned by deicers or dealing with any chemical burning and related issues.
- Eco Friendly – No one wants to see their prize lawn or their beautiful landscape destroyed by the chemicals found in ice melting materials. We suggest that those concerned about vegetation and protecting the environment make use of products like EnvironMelt. You’ll enjoy the same degree of ice coverage while knowing that you’re doing your part to care for our plants and earth.
- Sheer Melting Power – There are those, too, who are mainly focused upon the sheer power behind their rock salt or other ice melting product. This is especially true in frigid climates where the temperatures may plummet well below freezing. We highly recommend using products with calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate which are exothermic, fast and effective even on the coldest of days.
Calculating Your Need
Buying rock salt early means that you need to know how much material to invest in. As in the case of selecting the correct ice melt for your property, we recommend that you work with a professional for precise calculations.
In the meantime, however, you can get an accurate estimate of your demands by measuring the square footage (length x width) of your driveway, sidewalk or other coverage area and following these steps:
- Multiply the coverage area’s square footage by 3.1 (the recommended number of pounds of salt to be spread per square foot) to get the total pounds of rock salt you’ll require.
- Divide the total pounds of rock salt required by 50 (the standard pounds of rock salt per bag) to get the number of bags you should purchase.
Storing Rock Salt
After stocking up on your ice melting materials, you’ll need to store them until they’re needed. Remember that rock salt becomes activated when wet, so keep your materials up off of the ground and away from areas where they will be exposed to moisture.
It’s best to keep bags inside of sealed containers. Be sure to also store ice melt in an area that will stay above freezing temperatures to avoid problems with clumping. Braen Supply carries a wide range of rock salt to suit your every need. Stop by or give us a call today to discuss your ice melting needs for winter 2015-2016.