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How to Spread

There are too many variables involved in spreading to create an application strategy that caters to everyone. But there's no need to overcomplicate the process. Spreading is simply the application of a de-icing material to snow and ice. You just need to have a basic understanding of how a deicer works and take some general application points into consideration.

Where to Start

A typical suburan fast food parking lot with 50 spaces and an entrance drive with a drive-through would require approximately 225 pounds of rock salt. You have to consider temperature, time of day, whether the treated surface is asphalt or concrete, and drainage to adjust your material usage quantities. Learning your variables through experience and recording them makes your business more profitable.

It's All About the Brine

The melting potential of most de-icing materials is determined by its ability to attract sufficient moisture, which then forms a brine. Simply a mixture of water and the de-icing material, a brine lowers the freezing point of water and begins to melt the surrounding ice and snow.

Not to worry – you don't need to understand the chemical processes taking place. Just know that the correct material selection applied in the right concentration is crucial for each application's success.

Know Your Material

When buying material, everything you need to know about its capabilities, effective application rates and area of coverage will be printed right on the bag. It's free advice – so use it!


Choose an appropriate material for the temperatures in which you are working. Bear in mind, as temperatures approach a material's low-temperature threshold, the melting process will slow.


Consider the moisture content of the snow and ice you need to address. A wet snow is easier to melt than a dry snow because the moisture gets the brine process off to a good start.


It's easier to melt from the bottom up than it is from the top down. If you're in a high traffic area, passing vehicles will help push the de-icing material down into the snow and ice. But, if you're in an area of low traffic, take the time to drive back over the application path a few times to assist the de-icing process.

Night and Day

Depending on the time of day, your application approach should change. It's easier to melt snow and ice during the day than it is at night. Not only will it be colder at night, but you also don't have sunlight, which helps expedite the melting process.

Mix It Up

When working with tailgate spreaders, consider mixing different materials right in the hopper. This allows you to take advantage of the best characteristics of different materials to achieve a better, and perhaps more cost efficient, end result.

*Tip – When mixing materials, start by pouring the larger material into the hopper, followed by the smaller material. During the application, the smaller material will naturally work its way down through the bulkier material, delivering an even mix of de-icing products to the spinner.

Want more information? Request a Spreading Handbook.

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