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How brine helps make snow and ice removal easier

Using salt and brine to clean up the streets
Posted at 6:55 PM, Feb 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-08 19:55:46-05

When the streets are striped, you know they've been putting down brine before our next round of snow or ice to keep the streets from getting too slick. We all understand why they do it, but how does it all work?

Street maintenance engineer Austin Rowser explains that, contrary to some beliefs, the main goal of the brine isn't to melt much snow or ice.

"Brine isn't designed to melt everything that falls. in fact, from the standpoint of snow accumulation you get very little melt. Again your primary means of removing that snow and ice is with a plow."

But the little bit of melting it does provide is also there to break the bond between the snow and pavement.

"If we have brine down, and we have a good layer of melted material between the snow and ice and the pavement, you know, it's easier for us to push that off," Rowser says.

In addition to brine and salt, some places put down sand, too. Rowser says while Omaha does put sand in a few places, it isn't used much overall.

"It's found out that you know, after about 20 cars that sand is pushed out of the wheel paths and doesn't do anything for you anyway," he explains.

Since the city mostly uses the salt mix, it's important to remember any salt mixture can be corrosive to your car. but there is a simple way to take care of it.

"So, you know, if your car turns white and you got kind of a build up of stuff on there, you wanna make sure you keep it washed off," Rowser adds.

The success of the brine outweighs the risks, and the city is continually looking for ways to keep us safe on the roads.