Asphalt Paving Blog

4 Things To Consider Before You Use Salt On Your Asphalt Pavement

iStock_road-saltA wintery mix of precipitation is falling and you are trying to stay ahead of the ice and slippery roadways. To salt or not to salt? That is quite a question. While salt can be a beneficial deicing agent, you should consider the type of surface you have and the local environment before you stock up.

1. Salt Does Not Deteriorate Asphalt

If a professional in your area properly installed asphalt for your driveway or parking lot, have no fear; your pavement will remain unaffected by salt application. That is because hot-mix asphalt pavement is an aggregate of stones, sand and petroleum, mixed in proportions to match the needs of the area being paved. It is engineered to withstand the freeze-thaw cycle and is not affected by salt or other deicing agents.

2. Salt Does Cause Concrete Deterioration

If you have a concrete pavement surface however, you might run into some problems because salt causes concrete deterioration. The reason is threefold: salt is mildly acidic and breaks down the bonds that hold concrete together; concrete freezes more quickly that other surfaces and as a result, requires more salting; concrete overpasses and bridges are reinforced with steel which is subject to corrosion from salt.

3. Salt Does Not Create Potholes

Despite what you may have heard, salt doesn’t actually cause potholes. In fact, salt doesn’t affect asphalt until it is already in a state of advanced deterioration. Potholes are caused by water that has entered into the ground under the pavement. The expansion and contraction of water beneath the pavement slowly begins to undermine the gravel base. As the weight of cars and trucks pass over the weak spot in the road, pieces of the pavement weaken, which causes the material to break down from the weight, creating a pothole. While salt has the potential to exaggerate the freeze-thaw cycle, it is not the root cause of potholes.

4. Salt Can Be Harmful To The Environment

Salt is beneficial to help prevent winter related accidents, but it does impact the environment. Salt in water runoff affects plants and animals as well as local waterways. In fact, studies have shown increased salinity in rivers, lakes and drinking water as a result of roadway salting. So while there are benefits to salt use, it is important to shovel and plow snow away first and use deicers sparingly.  At Wolf Paving, we choose to use a mix of sand and salt, in ratios of 8:1, 4:1, or 1:1 as appropriate. No solution is perfect, but we find this is the best for melting, improving traction and having as little impact on the environment as possible.

For more information on Wolf Paving or to request a detailed quote for your next paving project contact one of our two offices. If you live or work in the Milwaukee area, call us at 262-965-2121. For the Madison area, call us at 608-249-7931. We have been in business for more than 70 years.

To learn more about caring for your asphalt, visit our Everything You Need To Know About Asphalt Paving resource page. 

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