Salt/Deicing Practices Source Control

Focus Area

Water Quality/Wetlands


Natural Resources







Research Idea Scope

The objective of this study is to determine the optimum timing and application rates of various deicing materials.  A variety of standard tests can be conducted to determine the effectiveness of various chemicals, including:

  • Ice Melting
  • Ice Undercutting
  • Ice Penetration
  • Controlled Site Testing

The following five chemicals have been used extensively for liquid anti-icing treatments: sodium chloride (NaCl), magnesium chloride (MgCl2), calcium chloride (CaCl2), calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), and potassium acetate (KAc).  Each has its own set of pros and cons, dependent upon application location and cost sensitivity.  There are other chemicals that are becoming more common, as well as a number of additives to “fix” one or another property of the parent chemical.

Study shall include fiscal component based on optimal application processes.  Additionally, the environmental concerns shall be detailed also based on optimal application processes.  BMPs to mitigate possible environmental concerns could be incorporated into the analysis including financial aspects.

Urgency and Payoff

Benefit of the study is to determine the optimal practice for roadway winter practices/ice control.  Receiving waters in areas of the United States are impaired for salts/chlorides, either 303(d) listed or enforced through Total Maximum Daily Loads.  DOTs are named stakeholders for certain Salts TMDLs. 

This research is intended to provide a common ground between the highway and regulatory communities targeting environmentally responsible deicing practices that employs feasible and economically prudent strategies for the safe operation of the roadway. 

To highway agencies, deicing operations are an essential element to maintaining the safety of the traveling public.  Given the expectations of the public and the scarcity of public highway funding, we need to optimize deicing practices with a balance of fiscal, environmental and safety concerns. 

Suggested By

AASHTO Stormwater Community of Practice - State of the Practice Report, May 2011 2013 Update: Received 3 votes. Subcommittee declined to submit this topic for consideration in 2013.