ARLINGTON — Starting this winter, the highway department will use a magnesium chloride solution with an inhibitor when salting roads, which works at lower temperatures and reduces rusting on vehicles compared to what it has used in the past.
"What we've used in the past has been regular old calcium chloride," said board chairman Keith Squires, "we bought it in a liquid form." He said it typically costs 85 cents a gallon, and is sprayed onto the road salt as it is placed on the roads, to help it activate faster. In the summer, they use it for dust control. However, he said, there were multiple reasons for considering a change.
"Magnesium chloride works at a lower temperature in the wintertime," he said, "In other words, calcium will melt ice down to like 20 degrees, something like that, before it kind of stops working. You have to apply a lot more of it for it to be active... The big advantage in the winter for magnesium is that it will work down to zero degrees, or even below zero, where the calcium chloride won't work at lower temps."
"The other thing we're considering," said Squires, "is the chloride with an inhibitor or the (magnesium) with an inhibitor. An inhibitor is something we add to the liquid, which is basically a rust preventative. It reduces the effect of the chloride as far as rusting goes." He said their road crew's equipment suffers considerably every year due to exposure to the calcium chloride, along with residents' cars.
He said the magnesium chloride would cost 95 cents a gallon, and the inhibitor would cost an additional 34 cents per gallon, whether they went with magnesium or calcium. Additionally, were they to go with the inhibitor, the company they purchase from, Peckham Industries, has a minimum order size of 4,000 gallons. The town's tank is only 3,000 gallons, so that would require the purchase of a new tank, for slightly under $1,600. Squires estimated that the town uses about 6,000 gallons in an average year.
Due to last year's mild winter, the highway budget came in much lower than expected, so there is money available to purchase a tank. Based on the 6,000 gallon estimate, upgrading to magnesium chloride with the inhibitor would cost about $2,700 a year.
Squires said that highway foreman Gary Weller prefers the magnesium chloride because of the lower temperature threshold. "I'd like to try it," he said, noting that they should see savings in terms of decreased wear and tear on equipment with the inhibitor.
The board voted 4-1 to use magnesium chloride with the inhibitor, and to purchase a new storage tank. Board member Cynthia Browning expressed concern about overspending the budget, and voted against the proposal.
Contact Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.