Will There Be a Rock Salt Shortage in 2016?

rock salt shortageIn previous winters, residents of NJ and its surrounding areas have struggled with problems due to a shortage of rock salt and other ice melting materials.

As a result, we are already receiving queries from concerned home and business owners who want to know if they can expect a rock salt shortage this coming season.

Although there’s no way to predict the future, there are certain factors and pieces of information that can help us to accurately guess what we can expect in terms of available inventory.

Read on to learn more about whether or not a rock salt shortage is in our future and how to weather it.

Causes of a Rock Salt Shortage

Any number of items can impact the amount of rock salt available to home and business owners throughout a given season, including:

  • Previous Winter Conditions – In many instances, rock salt miners and manufacturers will produce rock salt in quantities that are based off of the volume that was in demand throughout previous winters. Suppliers and retailers will act in a similar manner, basing their orders for the coming winter off of the year or two before. If past winters weren’t quite as harsh as the winter to come may be, there may not be enough ice melt manufactured or stocked for consumer use. This could lead to problems with supply and demand including price inflation and empty shelves.
  • Unexpected Weather Patterns – Meteorology isn’t an exact science, and there are times when the Farmer’s Almanac and our own local weather forecasters don’t make the right predictions. If conditions are milder than anticipated, most of us are pleased with the change of plans, but when a freak blizzard hits or the winter drags on longer than we originally expected, problems are created with rock salt inventory. As customers continue to require high volumes of rock salt to get through the season, stores may run out of ice melt, leading to a shortage.
  • Supplier Cost – When the cost to manufacture rock salt goes up, so does the cost to suppliers and retailers. The more expensive the ice melt is, the less the store is likely to carry in inventory until it is sure that it will make its money back. This could mean empty shelves for those who wait until the last minute to buy deicer.

The Likelihood of a Rock Salt Shortage in 2015-2016

It’s important to understand that the term “rock salt shortage” is a bit misleading. The world is full of salt, and there’s more than enough to go around, but what a shortage refers to is a lack of available inventory when it is needed most.

This means that, should manufacturers and suppliers accurately anticipate how much rock salt will be needed for your region to make it through the winter, there should be plenty in stock.

The problem is that, as in any El Nino (which is predicted to extend through Spring of 2016), weather can be a bit unpredictable. One minute the outlook may be for a “warmer than average” season while the next brings frigid cold and precipitation.

It’s important, then, to be prepared for the worst to happen. Expecting the unexpected could help you to avoid any problems with a potential rock salt shortage this year.

A Look at Other Ice Melting Materials

In the event of a rock salt shortage, should you consider working with other ice melting materials? This greatly depends on your own individual needs and set of circumstances. In most cases, premium ice melt is more expensive than traditional rock salt, but in a shortage, this might not be the case.

If you decide that purchasing a rock salt alternative will be cost-efficient and an effective solution for you, be sure to consider any discrepancies in the amount of material that will need to be applied per square foot or in melting temperatures as this can make a big difference in your expenses and experience.

When to Buy Rock Salt

If you’re at all concerned about a rock salt shortage in 2016, it’s in your best interest to start purchasing your ice melting materials right now. It’s especially advantageous to start buying early because you’ll enjoy lower prices as the deicer isn’t “in season” quite yet and is still well in stock.

The rock salt can then be stored safely until it is needed. As an added bonus, you’ll already have the materials on hand when the first big storm of the year hits so that you won’t have to go out and brave the cold.

Planning Ahead

If you want to be prepared for a rock salt shortage this year, there are certain steps that you’ll need to take right away:

  • Calculate Your Needs – The first thing that you need to do when purchasing rock salt is to obtain a solid estimate of your property’s actual needs. This can initially seem a bit overwhelming, but it’s quite simple when you follow our user-friendly formula. Keep in mind that you should always consult manufacturer instructions pertaining to how much salt should be spread per square foot and take this into account when performing your calculations.
  • Buy Accordingly – Depending on the size and scope of your coverage area, you will have different needs in terms of purchasing your materials. A homeowner with a short, narrow driveway might do well by buying rock salt by the bag whereas a large hospital campus or city might need to buy by the pallet or truckload. Knowing how to purchase rocks salt will help you to get your ducks in a row for pickup or delivery so that there isn’t a time delay.
  • Store Properly – Once you have your rock salt, you need to have some means of keeping it in good condition until you actually need to use it. Rock salt is best stored in temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or freezing. This will prevent any clumping from occurring. You’ll also need to ensure that the rock salt won’t come into contact with moisture as it will obviously be dissolved and of no use to you. It’s wisest to keep the ice melt in a sealed container and raised up off of the floor for protection.
  • Apply as Directed – Calculating your rock salt needs and stocking up in advance won’t do you a lot of good if you get a little bit overly generous with your usage and end up running about of materials before the season is only halfway through. Using more rock salt than is directed by the manufacturer will not improve the speed or melting power of the ice melt and will only end up costing you money. Be sure to carefully follow instructions so that you don’t end up with a rock salt shortage of your own design.

Where to Buy Rock Salt in NJ

Braen Supply is prepared for a potential rock salt shortage in 2015-2016. We carry a large inventory of rock salt and other deicers to ensure that our customers are able to get through the winter months as safely as possible. Our materials are competitively priced and can be picked up or bulk delivered to locations throughout NJ, NY, PA and CT.

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