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Lighter-than-snow grit

Tractiony gritty things that always stay on top of the snow
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So salt is nice because it melts the snow, but then it melts right through the snow and the snow falling all around it swamps the effect. Gritty stuff is good for traction of tires and such, but it has the same problem, getting covered by subsequent snow. (Sand supposedly does something, since they spread it all over the roads here, but it doesn't seem to do much. Little pebbly things are better, I imagine.)

Anyway, there should be a product that has the grittiness but also somehow stays on top of the snow. The half-baked thing I am imagining, which would not likely work, is a "salt puff", like popcorn made out of salt. It would melt the snow around it but then float to the top of the melted snow, and still have plenty of salt left to provide traction, and when new snow fell, it would be melted immediately near the salt and the salt would float up and always stay on top of the snow.

I know "salt puffs" probably wouldn't work, but something similar would be nice. Maybe little jumping beans with rough surfaces, that every 5 minutes (propelled by some sort of heat difference?) pop upwards to break through the thin layer that has fallen since the last pop.

omegatron, Jan 02 2005

Road grit Collective_20road_20gritting
Collective road gritting [csea, May 26 2005]

[link]






       I prefer snow tires. Real snow tires work great. They are not an expensive luxury, since the 3 season tires last longer and get less miles on them by staying off the car in the winter.
jp498, Jan 04 2005
  

       Salt doesn't melt snow. It lowers the freezing point of water preventing ice from forming.
paraffin power, Jan 04 2005
  

       salt mixes with the snow after pouring it dosent all fall down i normally have plenty of salt on the top also snow is not the problem ice is
redwheel, Jan 04 2005
  

       // I prefer snow tires. //   

       So for walkways you recommend everyone to wear snow boots any time it might snow?   

       // also snow is not the problem ice is //   

       It would stay on top of the ice, too, providing traction. That's kind of what I meant...   

       // Salt doesn't melt snow. It lowers the freezing point of water preventing ice from forming. //   

       Do the ice crystals that make up the snow melt into water? Yes. Does the salt cause this by lowering the freezing point? Yes. How is this different from melting the snow?
omegatron, Jan 07 2005
  

       I assumed that salt keeps the snow melted after pressure is applied (by foot or tyre). I am not sure of any other mechanism that allows cold salt to melt cold snow.
Ling, Jan 07 2005
  

       //I am not sure of any other mechanism that allows cold salt to melt cold snow.   

       Solids dissolve into each other, too. When the salt dissolves into the ice, the melting point lowers and the ice turns into water.
omegatron, May 26 2005
  

       You missunderstand the purpose of salting the roads. The salt is to lower the freezing temperature of the ice, so it melts.   

       The salt is not meant to provide traction. It is to remove ice so you can get traction from the road.
DesertFox, May 26 2005
  

       See [link]   

       The grit may be denser than snow, but being lightweight and black, will absorb heat and stay on top until the snow has melted beneath.
csea, May 26 2005
  

       [omegatron], //Solids dissolve into each other, too//   

       I didn't realise that it happened to that extent (Learn something new every day).
Ling, May 26 2005
  

       //You missunderstand the purpose of salting the roads. The salt is to lower the freezing temperature of the ice, so it melts.   

       Yeah, I was thinking of walkways, where the salt just kind of makes a little dent in it.   

       //The grit may be denser than snow, but being lightweight and black, will absorb heat and stay on top until the snow has melted beneath.   

       What link? That sounds like a better implementation of my basic idea.
omegatron, May 28 2005
  

       I see the need of course, but I dislike the idea of throwing salt on anything other than chips and other such foods that may require it.
Cubical_View, May 30 2005
  

       Why not use crushed pumice (or some synthetic equivalent)? I know it won't melt the snow/ice, but it would act as grit and would presumably tend to rise to the top (being lighter than water).

Perhaps if you soaked a pumice-like material in saline, it would absorb enough salt to have a useful melting effect, whilst retaining enough bouyancy (from its innermost air-filled pores) to be floaty.
Basepair, May 31 2005
  
      
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