Physical Plant Department
Using "Magic" to Reduce Salt Use on Campus Roadways
In the winter of 2007, The UVM Grounds department implemented the use of a product to mix with salt for use as a deicer on campus roads and sidewalks. When mixed with the salt, the liquid Magic Salt product reduces the corrosiveness of salt and makes the salt able to work at much lower temperatures. Whereas rock salt works to 18 degrees, the Magic Salt works in temperatures as low as 30-35 degrees below zero. The product was applied using existing equipment owned by the Grounds depatment: traditional dump trucks with a salter/spreader attachment.
the liquid is
added to rock salt, it discolors it brown. Don't worry! Our trucks are
not leaking oil...it is simply the color resulting from the Liquid
Magic. It is made from a patented blend of magnesium chloride and
condensed distiller solubles--which is a by-product of the
distilling industry. (That's right, it's a waste product from
breweries). It is non-toxic, bio-degradable and has a corrosion index
lower than distilled water. It is non-corrosive, safe for
concrete, environmentally friendly and does not damage turf the way
that salt does. Here's an interesting news story from the Boston Globe
this innovative product:
Firm Serves Sweet Brew for De-icing Roads (Boston Globe, Dec 8, 2004)
The additional cost of the liquid is about $24 per ton of salt applied,
but this cost was offset by reducing the total amount of salt.
Grounds purchases the Liquid
Magic Minus Zero in bulk form, and
stores it on site in two 3,000-gallon poly tanks located at the salt
storage area at Centennial Field. The Liquid Magic product is then
with the rock salt before it is loaded into the dump truck.
The department has also eliminated the use of sand everywhere on campus except for
gravel parking lots and roadways. This has been a tremendous benefit to
the environment...as we know sand is contaminated, clogs up the
waterways, increases phosphorous levels and is a huge expense to sweep
up from roadways and haul to the landfill each spring.
Magic can also be used as an anti-icing agent and applied in liquid form prior to a storm event. However, to do this, Grounds would have to modify its entire fleet of existing equipment. There is also specific criteria to follow regarding temperature and other weather conditions so the process becomes more technical and scientific. Most people using the product have started first with it as a deicer (adding it to salt). The Grounds crew plans to become familiar with using the granular form, and at the same time begin to experiment with liquid applications. They are also purchasing a 500-gallon tank to transfer the liquid from bulk storage to the salt. Other new tools include a spray bar so the tank can be mounted onto a pickup and used to spray certain areas of campus. In time, Grounds hopes to use the magic "liquid" on a regular basis and therefore reduce the use of salt on campus to an absolute minimum.
Last modified August 11 2010 07:19 AM