Salt is a car-Sin-o-gen!

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Wed, 02/14/2007 - 09:14.

Don't call it a comeback - the realneo relaunch has begun and I dive headlong into the blogsphere via the seriously socially-conscious social network in NEO ..

This bellowing blustery blizzard blight has gotten me thinking.  Why have we been tagged with the dubious moniker 'rust belt' by automotive enthusiasts everywhere?  The answer is simple: we have quietly allowed for 'gross-salinization' of our roads and ultimately our ecosystem.  The salt ravages our vehicles, quietly eating away shiny new car finishes and underbodies - ultimately a moneymaker for the right vendors - car dealers, body shops, salt miners, the Cargills of the world, the city salting-machines and their workers.  There is a salt economy in the works and a powerful vested lobby that is thriving as a result - hence we see a continuation of salt-madness.

Shall we do a cost-analysis?  The salinization of our watersheds and lakes can't be a good thing - not to mention the cumulative effect on biodiversity and wildlife dependent upon these waters.  The stuff washes into our drainage systems, soils, and ravages our city biosystem - to the extent that city planners here must reconsider which plants they can select or even selectively breed for saline-resistance.  (Relative) safety is a benefit - we avert car and pedestrian crashes and skids - but at what true cost?  Costs that reach beyond road repair and auto aesthetics to our community and environmental health.

Such a simple thing we can stop to do a world of good.  Other states use gravel, sand, and other diverse eco-friendly solutions.  Why should we lag behind our forward-thinking counterparts like  Minnesota and Wisconsin, to name a couple.   Experts argue that excessive salting will not abate until we find an economically feasble, technolgically advanced solution - an elegant one nonetheless.   So we could consider alternative-energy powered (geothermal, solar, wind, etc) solutions that are already used by the affluent to heat their drive-and-walk ways.   This is certainly not cost-effective yet but points us in one R&D direction.   What about more eco-friendly agents we can apply in limited doses as an alternative - ethanol blends perhaps?   Should we escape underground ( and definitively explore subterranean alternatively-powered alternatives?

De-icing sustainably is the new Mandate - we must surely subvert this silly psychotic specificity sublimated within the sodium chloride economy. 




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hmmm. me thinks you are taking on the salt miners downtown..

I heard they are in car-hoots with the auto lobby to make salt blends to make cars disintagrate faster.  Detroit design obsolescence engineers are factoring this all in!

The largest salt mines in the world our under our city, and Cargil is a big boy.  They give our local salt applicators deep discounts.  They are HUGE HUGE and real silent around here.  They even have an eatery, halite named after em.   I wand a tour of their mines BAD BAD BAD.  NASA has research operations down there.

You know Cargill wants to be a 'sustainable' enterprise.  Cant you tell with their natural resource extraction based business model?

I prefer to escape underground.   Where is the elevator to Eden II, I booked a rsvp at the day spa there for a salt scrub and kelp wrap... oh shite cancel that. 

A salty voice of social consciousness in NEO

I am certain you are right about this. Living in Cleveland I accept a car begins decaying the first winter here, destroyed by community leadership uninterested in more progressive snow management practices - and I understand the new deicing substances they are using on the roads is worse than the salt that has been destroying our cars and environment for decades. But, further, consider this... last night, as the blizzard was in rare form, I had to run some errands. Living in Ohio City, everything I need is within a few blocks of me - I could have walked where I needed to go. Still, I drove. And, since I didn't have far to go, it was not a big deal at all getting around Ohio City, even though I haven't seen one plow or salt truck on these streets now 24 hours into the storm. In Ohio City, no traffic, no rage, no hassle. But go near a main road - Detroit into Lakewood, for example, and bumper to bumper road rage. Now, imagine living in a livable city, like Ohio City, and not having to bump, bump, bump 30 miles home, and then imagine a region where few people bump, bump, bump 30 miles home, and so no salt needed on 1,000s of miles of roads... so add all the costs of your posting to the cost of sprawl.

Disrupt IT


In New Hampshire, where the roads can be treacherous this time of year, they use sand, but it is not perfect either.

Currently I have been exchanging posts with Tim Ferris about shoveling sidewalks so that neighbors can walk -- not in the street. Right now, my back and shoulders are exhausted from shoveling late last night. The very heavy foot of snow had to be removed so my husband could get into the driveway of our home. I haven't tackled the sidewalk yet today.

However, regarding the issue of passable sidewalks -- to shovel or not;sand is a method for addressing the concern about pedestrians and the slip and fall insurance issue. Not only that, but when sand is swept onto our compacted urban soils, it helps them to drain. We have had great success adding sand to our backyard. When we bought the house 16 years ago, the soil in the backyard was akin to a clay pot. Aeration was a joke; we had to have it done professionally for several years, because the rental machines that we could push simply rolled atop the lawn. We have engaged in plenty of digging and adding homemade compost, aeration, deep raking and adding coarse sand and we are nearing something much more workable. Finally! I am surprised that more people haven't discovered sand for the slippery sidewalk issue. You do have to be careful however not to apply it where it will wash off into the storm drain (ours drains to a compacted soil laden tree lawn unless I get it swept to the front yard before a spring rain).


The jury is still out on the sand/salt roadway isse, but here is a discussion of the issue from the EPA. In this weather, Telecommuting is a better plan than requiring the salt sprayers to salinate the wetlands or snading to add to the particulates and the storm sewers.

If you are ready to read about snowiness, here you go -- Have Snow Shovel, Will Travel: A History of Snow Removal.

Benefits of using sand

I've used sand on the sidewalk and it does a good job of providing traction. As an added benefit, it seems to create a layer on the sidewalk that keeps future ice and snow from freezing to the pavement. So the next big storm, even weeks later, it is much easier to remove the snow and ice than without the sand base. Salt can't do that.

Disrupt IT