A Salt Spreading & Snow Clearing Guide (Updated for 2024)

Winter has arrived again in the UK, and as the days become darker, colder and harsher, it is important to be well prepared for snow, even if we don’t see much of it! Whether you need to keep campus walk ways clear or need to make the roads safer, utilising salt spreading and snow clearing equipment can make all the difference to maintaining operations!

In this article, we are going to provide an overview of salt spreading and how to maintain your salt spreaders and snow clearers effectively.

How does a salt spreader work?

Salt spreaders work by dropping salt over a spinning plate, spreading the salt evenly and widely across the target surface. The salt is held in a hopper, and gravity feeds it down through the hopper. Fuel-powered salt spreaders can control how much salt is used over a set distance and efficiently disperse salt.

The importance of salt spreading

Salt spreading is extremely important for ensuring safety and accessibility on sites, campuses, roadways, walkways or any other heavily populated and high traffic locations.

If roads are not properly de-iced, a number of safety concerns appear.

Firstly, roads and pathways can become extremely slipper, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries for pedestrians and drivers.

Employers also have a duty to care to employees and people who might be using their services, and this includes making the area safe in icy conditions. The Health and Safety Executive recommends risk assessing your area and using grit as a way of preventing slips.

When salt spreading, it is always best to be prepared and get started before snow or ice is expected. By doing so, it will mean that ice or snow doesn’t have the chance to form or set. Prevention and caution is key to help reduce risk and improve accessibility and safety for all.

Types of salt for spreading

There are two main types of salt that can be used to manage roads and pathways on snowy or icy days.

Rock salt (commonly known as grit salt), is brown in colour and inexpensive. However, there are some disadvantages to brown salt, including:

  • It leaves behind a messy residue
  • It can cause corrosion
  • It’s detrimental to vegetation
  • It’s not as effective as marine salt

The second type of salt that’s used in salt spreaders is called marine salt, or ‘white salt’. Marine salt is white in colour and is highly concentrated, making it highly effective at de-icing. This salt is also 100% soluble, meaning no residue enters drains or causes corrosion or blockages. Overall, marine salt is much better for the environment and is more sustainable than other types of de-icing salts.

How to maintain your salt spreaders and snow clearers?

Salt spreader and snow clearer maintenance will increase the longevity of your equipment. Maintenance should be carried out year-round, not just when you need to get the equipment out on that cold, winter’s day!

1. Prevent corrosion

Snow clearers and salt spreaders are prone to corrosion and this is far from simply a cosmetic issue.  Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to minimise corrosion and keep your equipment lasting longer.

Salt spreaders are most affected by corrosion (although snow clearers do suffer too), as the hopper holds salt, which accelerates the corrosion process on metals. While our stainless-steel equipment is better protected than bare steel, it is not immune to corrosion when repeatedly exposed to salt for both short and extended periods of time.

Additionally, rock salt and brown salt are especially corrosive, but frequently used on the roads, meaning there are precautions you will want to take.

To minimise rusting, ensure that your salt spreader is completely free of salt, and that it is cleaned with clean water, then dried. This should be done immediately after use – do not leave salt sitting in salt spreader when not in use. Check for any signs of rusting or holes before the snow season, so that you can purchase a replacement hopper if necessary. However, with a proper routine post-usage, the likelihood of holes developing as a result of corrosion will be greatly reduced.

2. Check tyres

Make sure to check for tyre wear, and that the winter tread is sufficient. The maximum travel speed for our LOGIC GDS250R, for example, is 30mph, and so it is imperative to ensure that tread is sufficient for safe usage in icy conditions.

3. Check lights

Ensure that lights are inspected prior to the snow season, and promptly replace any bulbs which no longer work. Also, ensure all reflective stickers are intact. By taking these maintenance precautions, you will ensure safe operating conditions when in poor visibility, whether that be fog or night.

4. Lubricate moving parts

If not lubricated, the spinner will be unable to disperse salt, rendering your equipment useless until you replace the mechanism. All moving parts should be coated with grease, including the spinner of a salt spreader.

Dielectric grease should similarly be used on all electrical connections to prevent against corrosion and dirt, something which both your salt spreader and snow clearer can benefit from. This can act as a lubricant and protectant on components such as bulb sockets and trailer connectors, in turn increasing longevity.

5. Off-season maintenance

Salt spreaders and snow clearers might not be something you spend much time thinking about in the summer and autumn months, however there are many benefits to pre-season maintenance of plant equipment, such as ensuring safety and reducing costs further down the line. It is important to be prepared for the winter season, so that you don’t get caught out in the event of tough or dangerous weather conditions.

Your off-season maintenance could involve tightening components such as trip strings and belts, chains or conveyors. If you neglect your snow clearer’s trip springs, you might not notice a break which renders its absorption impact capabilities useless. This can lead to a damaged or broken snow blade which you will need to replace prematurely, despite it being avoidable.

Furthermore, an uninspected or too-tight belt or chain on your salt spreader can lead to breakages in chain links, another avoidable cost, mitigated by off-season maintenance.

Our range of salt spreaders and snow clearers for 2024

We understand that investing in a salt spreader is a big commitment - that's why here at Ace Plant we offer both salt spreaders and snow clearing equipment for hire.

Have you had a look at the GDS250R and the MS800 (3-point-linkage mount) salt spreaders? The GD250R salt spreader is incredibly simple to use and are very effective. The salt spreader can simply be loaded with salt (even wet rock salt) and ensure that the attachment is set to spread mode and begin spreading salt.

The MS800 salt spreader is a tractor mounted option that comes with a hopper, with a capacity of approximately 1000kg of salt – ideal for the larger sites or roads that need clearing. This attachment is capable of spreading wet or dry grit or white salt with ease.

We also offer a snow blade clearer that is perfect for clearing roads and compounds of snow and enabling smooth operations.

How Ace Plant can help

If you’re interested in our range of salt spreading and snow clearing equipment, or have any questions, please contact our friendly team on 01908 562191, or email us at [email protected]. Alternatively, fill out a contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!


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