Finding sustainable salt solutions

‘Coming into the 2014-15 winter, salt supply is limited and costs more. This combination has created challenges we’re not accustomed to facing.’

By Martin Tirado, CAE
SIMA just concluded the second of its two Salt Summits. More than 150 combined attendees learned about the use and effectiveness of liquids and brines, chemical application rates, and what other companies are doing to better manage their salt supply. Anytime a group of snow contractors meets and exchanges ideas, good learning experiences are generated with actionable takeaways received.

Simple questions, complex answers 
Coming into the 2014-15 winter, salt supply is limited and it costs more than in the past several winters. This combination has created challenges we’re not accustomed to facing. What the industry often asks in such times are simple questions, but the answers are complex. 

Sustainable solutions
The industry is asking you to discover sustainable solutions for ice melt. We need to look at the sustainable answers. Some of these answers are:

  • Consider using liquid applications, both applied to bulk salt supplies and as a pretreatment to reduce the amount of salt used and enhance its effectiveness.
  • Be diligent in training your operators on knowing how to properly calibrate spreaders, and know the optimal application rates needed to get the job done (use a chemical temperature effectiveness chart, one is available for SIMA members at
  • Analyze your business model and change if needed. Consider the pros and cons of different types of snow contracts. Which types promote the greatest efficiency for the snow contractor and are most cost effective for the customer? Listen to what your customer truly wants and make it a win-win partnership.
  • Communicate with your property and facility managers on chemical effectiveness, air and surface temperatures and proper application rates. Overapplication is not a sustainable solution.
  • Maximize the use of truck and plow snow clearing.
  • Create a long-term partnership with your suppliers. 
  • Position yourself as the expert in your field. Get certified through the CSP (Certified Snow Professional) or ASM (Advanced Snow Manager) program.

Finding salt supplies
There are also steps you can take now to find product as the season approaches:

  • There is salt supply in the market. Suppliers on SIMA’s LinkedIn page are advertising that they have a supply. 
  • You may also need to contact as many people as you know to find a secondary market supplier. It may be expensive, differ in quality than what you’re accustomed to, and take more time and cost to have it delivered or picked up. These are short-term answers. The question that will help your company last longer, grow more, and enhance efficiencies is: What’s your long-term solution to having the salt supply your customers need? 

Martin Tirado, CAE is chief executive officer of SIMA. Contact him at