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Road Salt: What Can It Do to Your Car?

on December 22, 2020
roadsalt - Road Salt: What Can It Do to Your Car?

Road Salt: What Can It Do to Your Car?

on December 22, 2020

Winter weather is in full force across the country now.  Snow is covering the roadways making it much more difficult to run errands, and travel back and forth to work.  Luckily, states that are used to snowy weather are always prepared.  This is why shortly after every snowfall, your state’s transportation division is hard at work plowing all the snow away.  Regardless, the roads are still going to be slippery, icy, and slushy making it dangerous.  

Most states during snowy weather will put road salt and sand on the roads.  Here at DriveSmart, we like to call it the salt roads.  Road salt helps snow and ice melt, while at the same time giving some extra traction on the roads to help assist you in having a safe journey home.  Unfortunately, this can cause damage to your vehicle by causing rust and brake line damage.  

What is Road Salt? 

Whenever you see the rock salt on the roads, you might wonder what exactly is being used on the roads.  Well, the road salt chemical formula is NaCl, the Na stands for the chemical compound called sodium while the Cl stands for the chemical compound of chloride.  When massed together it becomes Sodium Chloride otherwise known as salt.  

Table salt that you use on your french fries and other foods are the same chemicals.  The only major difference is that table salt is more pure and safe to consume compared to road salt which is typically manufactured more roughly and not as refined.  Salt on roads is typically bigger chunks of salt as well.  

There are currently twelve states that use salt on roads.  This includes Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Virginia.  

Road Salt Alternatives

There are a few different alternatives and one is salt brine on roads.  Salt brine is a mixture of salt and water which works the same way as road salt except its in a liquid form.  Some states use a mixture of both salt bine and rock salt for more effective roadways.  

When it comes to using alternatives in your own driveway, there are some great environmentally conscious alternatives to use instead of typical rock salt.  One method is to use Potassium Chloride which is much a much more environmentally friendly option but tends to be pricy. 

Another option is  Potassium acetate is the most expensive option but it’s the most effective solution to removing snow and ice.  Due to the expensive price, it’s great for a small driveway.  Finally, Calcium Chloride is much more potent than rock salt but takes a while for it to work.  

Some folks also use things such as Sand, Ash, Stone, and Cat Litter.  Sand and Stone are mainly used for traction, while Ash and Cat Litter do in fact melt snow, while also providing traction.  There are also some rather interestingly strange eco-friendly alternatives that some people have started to use such as cheese brine, and coffee grounds. 

Make sure you purchase your bulk road salt before a snowstorm happens, otherwise they usually sell out quickly, and always use the proper amount of salt.

How to Remove Salt From Car

Road salt causes rust on vehicles because if snow is on your vehicle along with salt from the roads it causes a chemical reaction that speeds up rusting on metal.  Your vehicle care is important, and so it’s best to have speedy diligence in removing salt from your vehicle to fight against rust and damage.  

When driving during a snowstorm, avoid driving in puddles that can splash your vehicle and spray road salt all over.  You also want to avoid driving in deep snow whenever possible because it could stick to the bottom of your vehicle.  

The best method to avoid rusting and remove rock salt from a car is to wash your vehicle often during these winter months.  Every time you drive in the snow, and you knowingly know that your vehicle has come into contact with road salt it is best practice to handwash your vehicle or take it to a car wash.  

You can also purchase a road salt neutralizer, which you mix with water and use on your vehicle to neutralize the road salt from your vehicle with ease. You can use this neutralizer mixer with water in a spray bottle and spray your vehicle for a quick solution. If rust does occur, make sure you remove rust from your vehicle properly.  

Don’t Ignore The Salt

If you decide to ignore the salt and snow on your vehicle for a long period of time without washing the salt off, the rust can affect the mechanical parts of your vehicle.  This happens very often with the bottom parts underneath your vehicle.  

Damage can occur all throughout the bottom of your vehicle.  If you notice significant damage, make sure you take your vehicle to a mechanic, and it’s always best to have an extended auto warranty to save you money in the event that a part needs to be replaced due to rust.  Always remember to DriveSmart and remove that salt because proper vehicle care is important!

Written By: Stephen Lubas

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