Solution for Slippery Roads
Location: Outside U.S.
Date: November 2008
I live in Toronto and I am wondering what some solutions
are for slippery roads in winter?
You might be pretty familiar with the most common methods. The most common
solution is to add salt (traditional sodium chloride salt might be used, but
other salts are possible too). When snow/ice is just a little below its
freezing point, salt can lower the melting point and cause the snow to melt.
The water can then flow away from the roads or evaporate. If the temperature
is too low, the snow won't melt even with salt. Sometimes sand, gravel, or
other abrasives are used to increase traction on packed snow. You can buy
tires designed for snow, or can put chains or other devices on the tires to
improve traction. I don't know the laws in Ontario, but local laws do affect
when you can/must use chains or studded tires. There are lots of high tech
snow melting ideas out there too, but they are not widely used due to cost
Hope this helps,
I guess the "smart-alec" answer to your question is, the best solution
to slippery winter roads in Toronto is to move out here to Vancouver
where all you have to deal with is rain! Just joking!
More seriously, there are not many alternatives to dealing with snow
or ice covered roads. The most common method is to salt the roads
using common salt (sodium chloride). Salt lowers the freezing point of
ice or snow, so when it is applied at temperatures not too far below
freezing, the snow will melt. Salting a road with common salt is only
useful when temperatures are not lower than -10°C. Some other salts
such as calcium chloride can be effective below -10°C, but cause
greater problems with corrosion. In addition to corrosion problems,
salting roads causes some environmental issues as well.
Sand is also commonly applied to assist in traction, but once the snow
finally melts, it can leave the road in a real mess that needs to be
The only other alternative (other than constant plowing) is the use of
good winter tires that are made from a hydrophilic rubber formula that
does not get so hard when cold, and actually tends to grip ice better
than normal tire rubber.
As you can see, the possible options are few indeed, so drivers
generally just have to grin and bear it!
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Update: June 2012