Planning a Winter Road Trip? Winter Driving Tips To Keep You Safe

After the year we have all had, it is tempting to look ahead to a winter getaway to refresh the soul. Many of our summer holiday plans have been limited or affected by the pandemic and quarantine requirements. So, as we head towards winter weather, now could be the perfect time to plan an exciting – or relaxing – winter road trip.

However, travelling in the colder months brings its own challenges. While you discuss possible destinations and consult diaries, don’t forget to check out our safer winter driving tips at the same time.

Plan ahead

Take time to work out your driving route and the types of roads and surfaces you will encounter. Plan how long each stage of your winter road trip will take. This will give you a better idea about the time you need to allocate to reaching your destination(s) so you don’t have to drive too fast. You will also get chance yo know about the road closure if exists in any place.

Book your car in with your garage for a check-up before you leave. Leave enough time to sort out any issues that may arise. You may need to change your tyres for something more suitable for winter driving conditions – the AA recommends at least 3mm of tread. Check fuel levels too. You might even like to research where you will be able to refuel on route for full peace of mind. Pack comfortable clothes and shoes to drive in. If your car is automatic, see if it comes with a winter road trip

Get your car winter ready

This is one of the most important winter driving tips to follow. After your car has had its professional winter check-up, do your own assessment at home. Clean all windows and mirrors to give maximum visibility. Double check tyre pressures and oil and water/windscreen washer levels. Top up your antifreeze to protect your engine from freezing and cracking in very severe conditions.

Make sure your lights all work and that windscreen wipers are in decent condition too. The lights will make you more visible to other road users in dull conditions. Your wipers are essential to help clear frost, condensation and winter mist

tyres been changed due to pothole.

Pack some useful winter emergency kit in case of an emergency. It is a good idea to carry a first aid kit, blankets and a torch with spare batteries for winter road trip. Other things that could be useful to put in the car in the winter include:

  • Fully charged mobile phone and in-car charger
  • Snow shovel or brush
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables to restart battery
  • Gloves, winter clothing and hi-vis jackets
  • Sunglasses – to reduce glare of frost and snow while driving
  • Emergency flare or reflector or a warning triangle
  • Extra water and windscreen washer fluid
  • Non-perishable snacks and drinking water

Always carry car deicer

Top of the list of supplies to keep in the car during a winter road trip is deicer or ice melt. This can clear windscreens from ice and frost quickly, preventing delays in setting off. It can also clear mirrors and unstick frozen door locks. You can use it on surfaces too, to help prevent your car from slipping too much. EcoGrit ice melt can be applied to surfaces before frost arrives and works down to temperatures of minus 20 degrees C.

ECOGrit Concentrate buckets of Ice melts

Choose a car deicer that does not contain any rock salt, such as EcoGrit. Not only is this because it is better for the environment, but it also reduces the risk of causing damage to your car.Rock salt is corrosive and can harm the undersides of cars and it is a bad idea to use for the road network. . It can also damage carpets and upholstery if the driver or passengers bring it inside

Winter Road Trip

Driving on winter roads is not the same as in other seasons and the risks can be far higher due to bad weather. Always go slowly to give yourself and other people more time to react. Look ahead for potential hazards. Apply brakes gently and leave longer stopping distances to account for slippery road surfaces. Always clear snow from the roof and windows before setting off. If you leave any behind, it could slip down while you are driving and obscure your view.

Other key tips in winter road trip include keeping to a constant speed as you drive and leaving plenty of room between you and the car in front. This is especially crucial when going uphill. If you have to stop halfway up a hill, it can be very hard to change gear or move off again without slipping if the surface is frosty. Similarly, use a low gear to go downhill and try not to brake too much.

If you run into problems

Try not to panic if you skid on black ice in winter road trip. The calmer you are, the more likely it will be that you will be able to bring the car under control. Always steer gently into the direction that you feel your car sliding in. Trying to correct it too aggressively, could cause the wheels to lock. Use your gears to slow down instead of the brakes for the same reason. Never take your hands off the steering wheel.

winter road trip - road with vechicle

Roads in winter road trip is covered with  ice and snow. If you get stuck in an ice scraper or snow on the road in cold weather conditions , put some old sacking or a rug in front of the driving wheels to help the tyres regain some grip. Straighten the steering wheel and clear the snow and ice from around the tyres. Use ice melt to help speed up the process. Drive very slowly when attempting to free yourself so you don’t strain your car’s engine.

More advice and winter driving tips can be found on the RAC website.

All The Leaves Are Brown: How To Protect Outdoor Surfaces For Autumn

The UK summer has seen some pretty unpredictable weather ranging from heat waves to full-on thunderstorms. As the weeks start to give way to impending autumn, the effects of the autumnal weather on outdoor surfaces such as play areas, garden paths, outdoor sports surfaces, natural stone areas, multi use game areas etc. will only continue to have an impact.

While days are still long and sunshine prevalent, it’s time to work out  how to protect outdoor surfaces for autumn.

Caring for outdoor surfaces

Looking after different types of exteriors and materials can prolong their useful life considerably. It also keeps  outdoor space and surfaces looking newer for longer.

Finally, keeping outdoor surfaces in good condition will be safer for those who use them because it minimizes accidents. This includes people, animals and vehicles. Different  outdoor surfaces require different autumn preparation.

outdoor surfaces - autumn evening

Concrete

Concrete is porous, meaning that it can take in water. This can become a problem in sub-zero conditions, because the water will freeze and expand, cracking the concrete. If you can prevent water from getting inside in the first place, this will make a big difference. Applying a hydrophobic sealing coating, like a resin, oil or silicone based product can really help. As can fixing any cracks that will allow too much water in at once.

Wood

Sheds, fencers, picnic tables and decking all fall foul of autumn and winter weather in a similar way. Give wood its best chance of survival by repairing any damaged or rotting areas now. Add protection by applying a waterproof seal to stop water from getting too far inside the wood. You can also use special stains, paints, preservers and oils to give extra layers of protection and give wood a pleasing finish.

Brickwork and masonry

Cold weather can stop building works in their tracks, so schedule any construction projects or repairs now. This is because the temperatures are higher than in autumn so mortar won’t crack or freeze. Really cold weather can also stop bricks from setting properly, leading to problems later on. There is also less chance of rain in summer months (although not zero chance, as we have been seeing recently).

Iron gates and railings

While iron is tough and highly durable, it can still benefit from some seasonal care ahead of autumn. The main thing to do is give iron a clean. Some types of dirt such as bird droppings and tree secretions can be acidic and cause chemical damage. Most dirt can be cleaned off with soap and water.

outdoor surfaces - irons

You can then apply a layer of wax for added protection for it outer surfaces of iron if you wish. You may need to scrub a bit harder at stubborn patches. Avoid using anything too sharp for this and be careful not to scratch the surface itself. Inspect all over for signs of rust. You can apply rust-resistant paint to help ward this off.

Painted signs and lines

Outdoor surfaces such as school playgrounds, car parks, sports pitches and roads can all have directional or recreational lines and signs painted on them. These fade over time, making them less effective as an aid to users. It can even be dangerous if warning signage becomes too faded to be easily seen. Again, use lighter summer months to repaint or relocate painted signage in your campaign to protect outdoor surfaces for autumn.

You have plenty of time now to plan playground layouts before the grand return to school in September. This also applies to getting ready ahead of the return of commuter traffic after the summer holidays. Not to mention the need to protect outdoor surfaces for autumn ahead of the start of new seasons in autumn/winter sports like rugby or football. 

Prepare now for frost and snow

Last but by no means least is the importance of planning ahead for frost and snow. It might be warm and sunny now (or there might be torrential summer rain…), but the frost and chilly temperatures will return. These can play havoc with exterior surfaces. Invisible ice and frost can also be very dangerous for people and animals walking on them. It can damage the underside of vehicles as well.

Golden Retriever puppies resting on the snow

As a result, it is vital to have plenty of stocks in of pet-safe ice melt. This is a safer, more environmentally-friendly way to get rid of laying ice and snow. You can apply it the night before to stop ice from forming and sprinkle it onto already frozen surfaces to speed up the melting process. Applying ice melt is also far cheaper that making repairs after frost damage. Be organised and order your stocks in now before demand rises in autumn and winter.

School’s out – Maintenance of school surfaces during the holidays

The summer holidays are here, bringing a welcome break from the rigours of school for pupils and teachers alike. The long break is the perfect time to take a look at your school surfaces, in particular playground care.

Why is summer a good time for maintenance of school surfaces?

maintenance of school surfaces - kid playing

Maintenance of school surfaces needs careful attention, but it is harder when people are milling about. So, having access to an empty school makes the job much easier.

Summer is also a good time to do any upgrades or repairs ahead of the autumn term, This is a because the weather will get colder and wetter as we move towards winter. It is also nice for people who are new joiners in September to come into a school with well-repaired premises.

What areas of school surfaces should you look at first?

Above all, school must be a safe, warm and hazard-free environment where children can learn and play. Your buildings are an important asset, as are your playgrounds, sports pitches and other outdoor areas. You should therefore look first at maintenance of school surfaces in urgent need of repair.

Having things go wrong during term can cost money, disrupt lessons and upset parents and the wider school community. It can also invalidate insurance, put people at risk and violate regulations.

Site survey for maintenance of school surfaces.

Before starting maintenance of school surfaces, it is a good idea to carry out inspections of school surfaces. Look at all buildings and outdoor areas to see if there are any cracks, damage, vandalism or problems with drainage. Note down what needs doing and get some quotes for repair or upgrade. Break down each area by use and work out a timetable for repairs. Areas to think about include:

two brothers petting their cat and playing with rocks
  • Exterior walls of buildings
  • Outhouses and storage sheds
  • Playgrounds
  • Sports pitches
  • Handrails, railings and gates
  • Climbing frames and other play equipment
  • Garden areas
  • Driveways and car parks

More information about what to cover in site surveys and inspections for schools .

A key job is to prepare for the cold weather ahead and the damage it can cause. For instance, frost and ice can crack the surface and cause breaks and tears. Snow can build up and become heavy on a compromised surface. Invest now in good, salt-free de-icer so that you can be ready for the frost when it is forecast.

You can apply ice melt ahead of the frost appearing to help protect and maintenance of school surfaces. So, have plenty of supplies in stock, ready for when you need them.

You can also use ice melt products on climbing frames, handrails and other exterior surfaces. Order plenty of lagging materials to protect exterior pipes and outside taps too. If you do this now, you won’t have to worry about it later on, after the start of term

Protect and prepare hard surfaces

Maintenance of school surfaces starts from treat and repair any cracks, breaks or damage to the concrete, asphalt, tarmac or other surfaces as part of your playground care. Repaint any lines, pitch or court marks or games drawn on and clear wet leaves that could cause further harm as they settle and rot down.

Inspect brickwork, especially low walls that could fall down if damaged and injure anyone who could be climbing or walking along them. Check wooden surfaces like decking for rotten planks or infestations. Think like a child and prioritise the areas where they are most likely to play or explore.

Sports pitches and grass

Schools benefit hugely from having sports pitches and grassy areas for athletics, team games or relaxation. Grass grows rapidly in summer, so it is important to tend it regularly maintenance of school surfaces in top condition. Mow grass frequently and treat it with suitable nutrients and weed or moss killers. Reapply seed if any areas are looking sparse.

The summer is a good time to do this because you won’t have to keep people off the grass during a working day or interrupt games lessons. You can also keep a better eye on your grass without hundreds of pairs of feet trampling it each day.

maintenance of school surfaces - slider

Look to the future

Once you have sorted, or put plans into place for immediate maintenance issues, it’s time to think about future plans. Do you need new resources, or can you expand existing school surfaces? Think about how you can use areas better. For instance, you could add new painted lines and games to plain tarmac areas to add scope for imaginative play.

Could you add more space for gardens to help children grow produce or for a sensory area? Would the addition of floodlights allow you to offer more opportunities to play matches after dark in the winter?

It is important  to turn your attention now to how your school surfaces can be used in the autumn and winter ahead. This is because you have the time to work on expansion maintenance of school surfaces in the holidays.

You can also take more time ordering products such as ice melt now. As a result, that you are not caught by surprise later on if the weather suddenly turns really cold later on.

Why Rock salt Is Bad News For Dogs’ Paws And What You Can Do About It

Group portrait of adorable puppies

When the weather turns to frost and snow, Much thought is given to ways to stop people and pets from slipping and sliding as they walk along. A common method that many people use is spreading rock salt to add traction and help the ice to melt away. However, what seems at first to be an effective solution for melting snow, can actually end up causing more problems than it solves – especially when it comes to our canine friends and their feet.

Dogs’ paws are delicate underneath and can easily become irritated, injured or sore when they are exposed to something harmful underfoot. Rock salt contains sodium chloride, which can irritate the pads on canine paws and cause digestion and stomach issued if ingested, e.g. if the dog licks his paws to get rid of the salt. Dogs can also walk the slat indoors, causing damage to carpets and flooring, as well a spreading the risk of other pets swallowing it and becoming unwell as a result.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to reduce the risk of your dog being exposed to rock salt. From choosing different routes for the daily walk to investing in dog-friendly ice melt, here’s how to keep man’s best friend safer and healthier this winter.

 

Treat the feet

Cute dog giving his paw

Even without the risk of rock salt becoming embedded in your dog’s paws, winter walks can come with additional risks. Check the paws after every walk or time spent outside for any trapped salt grains or debris, cuts and evidence of soreness or irritation. Gently wash your dog’s feet when you get home, patting them dry with a towel. You might like to add a thin layer of petroleum jelly or a similar barrier before taking your dog outside. You can also get specialist dog booties for your pet to wear for added protection and warmth.

 

Ring the changes

If your usual walking routes take you past a lot of treated paths, pavements and driveways that could have rock salt on them, try walking somewhere else for a while to give your dog a break. Go for more rural spots, where the roads etc. may not have been treated quite so assiduously with rock salt, or other non-dog-friendly salt products. Good places to try if you can’t reach the countryside so easily are parks, gardens and fields (check dogs are allowed in these places first), where they can enjoy walking and playing in softer, untrodden snow.

 

Water aware

The owner gave dogs the water from bottle to drink.

Don’t let your dog drink from puddles or streams in colder weather, as rock salt from treated frost and ice may have run off into pools of water, where it will cause harm if swallowed. Always carry your own water supply and some treats for your dog during a walk so that you can give him what he needs at any point along the route. Equally, take a blanket or towel to clean him off if he gets muddy, rather than allowing him to wash in potentially salty water. While on the topic of drinking, watch out for signs of dehydration as dogs use up extra energy staying warm in the winter and may need extra food and water to help him with this.

 

Pet-safe ice melt

A dog on the street in winter

One particularly effective way to protect your canine companion when out and about in the winter is to use a pet-friendly ice melting product like EcoGrit that does not contain any rock salt, urea or other harmful ingredients to grit your own driveway, paths and garden. This gives your dog a wider area to run about safely, while still enabling you to clear ice and snow effectively and safely, down to -20°C. It works for up to seven days, meaning that you don’t need to use so much, and it is safe if pets accidentally ingest it. It’s biodegradable too, meaning that you can extend your love of animals to the wider ecological habitats around your home, garden and locality.

 

Indoor and outdoor fun

Finally, if you provide your dog with plenty of room for plating, eating, sleeping and generally enjoying life indoors, he won’t have to rely on being outside for his daily living requirements. Make him a safe, comfortable place to sleep and have separate eating areas and lots of toys to play with to keep his body and mind active, whatever the weather.

Why do we grit roads?

Wintertime brings about many challenges for people trying to go about their daily lives, not least of which is coping with slippery ice on driveways, pavements and roads. Falls from slipping or sliding over on black ice, hardened snow and frost account for a high proportion of the injuries seen by hospital A&E departments in the colder months and the repercussions from these can last for a lot longer than one season.

Additionally, cycling and driving is more dangerous to do on an icy road due to the lack of traction and longer time needed to brake safely. Collisions between cars etc. are more likely to occur if one or more driver starts to lose control of their vehicle. A quick and easy way to reduce the risk and clear away dangerous snow, frost or ice is to spread grit of some form or another onto the road to add traction and help melt the ice so that it turns back into a liquid and runs safely off the surface into the gutters. However, all grit is not the same, and some types are more suitable to use than others.

What is grit made of?

Traditionally, grit used to clear the road is made largely of rock salt. The salt lowers the freezing temperature of the moisture in the ice, causing it to melt away. It breaks down the molecules and makes it harder for the ice to remain frozen. Salting icy roads in this way is effective, right down to temperatures of -26.6 degrees C; however, as already mentioned, it also causes problems due to its corrosive toxicity and effect on the surrounding environment. It is also not safe to eat, so causes additional harm to pets who get it on their paws and lick them to remove it.

Is rock salt safe?

Using the correct terminology from science, rock salt is made of the chemical sodium chloride, which can cause painful salt burns to humans and animals alike if handled too much or incorrectly. It can also be harmful when inhaled, so wearing a mask when applying it is vital.

Rock salt can also harm roads, pavements and driveways, infiltrating porous materials such as concrete and asphalt and lowering their pH level, making it less stable and more prone to cracks, surface spalling and fissures from passing traffic. In turn, these cracks pose a risk to the vehicles themselves and increase the probability of punctures and tears to the tyres and corrosion to the underside of cars, lorries and vans.

How long does salt last on the roads?

Rock salt can stay on pavements and roads for a long time, spreading onto vehicles and people for several days before eventually running off in water from the melted ice or winter rainfall. This is why it is capable of causing such widespread problems.

Once it is diluted in the run-off water or rain puddles, it stays around in liquid form for longer, seeping into the soil, flowing into water sources and clinging to the underside of vehicles and the soles of people’s shoes and animals’ paws. Just one application of rock salt can stay in the local area in one form or another for days, if not weeks.

Does road grit damage the environment?

While road grit consisting mainly or wholly of rock salt can be effective as a deicer, it can cause significant harm to the environment, threatening habitats nearby, such as lakes and rivers, domestic gardens and hedgerows. This is due to the salt getting into water sources, injuring local wildlife and altering the chemistry of the ecosystems affected.

From causing fish, water fowl and other lake and pond life to become sick to leading to plants to defoliate, rock salt affects the environment at multiple levels. Plants absorb the rock salt instead of the crucial minerals they need to survive, which causes mineral deficiencies and makes it harder for the roots to draw up the water from the soil the plant needs to survive.

Why it’s important to use EcoGrit Concentrate

The good news is that there are viable alternatives for deicing and gritting the roads in colder temperatures that do not result in such harmful repercussions. Using an organically derived grit compound that does not contain rock salt will give all the benefits of a powerful deicer safely and easily. EcoGrit Concentrate fits the bill perfectly, with its corrosive ingredients and pet-friendly formula

Carrying EcoGrit with you in your vehicle offers valuable peace of mind that you have to worry about sliding and causing an accident, or having to abandon your car mid-journey. EcoGrit will help get you home and out of the adverse winter weather without harming passers-by, pets, the local wildlife or your own vehicle and belongings.

When is it the right time to grit roads?

We have all seen the huge grittering machines doing their work on frosty roads, and being able to apply grit as quickly as possible really helps keep surfaces safe and traffic flowing smoothly during colder spells. You can apply grit at any stage, but getting it down sooner will generally reap more effective results. Grit can stay on the surface for several days; however, as traffic passes over it, it can be worn away or carried off in melted ice, so regular reapplication is wise.

EcoGrit works on icy surfaces for up to seven days in temperatures down to -20 degrees C. You can even apply it before ice forms to help alleviate problems before they arrive – just keep an eye on the forecast to be well prepared this winter.

What is black ice?

When roads freeze over, they can become covered by a thin layer of smooth ice that is practically invisible to the human eye. This is known as black ice and is more dangerous than coatings of frost or snow, due to its lack of visibility. Vehicles and pedestrians alike can be caught unawares by black ice, especially in areas where it is patchy and so more unpredictable. It is best to stay calm when faced with black ice. Slow down, stay vigilant and keep the vehicle as straight as you can until you can regain traction. If you are walking, try to hold on to a rail or similar to help yourself stay upright and wear suitable shoes or boots with a good, grippy sole so you don’t slip over too easily.

How are potholes formed?

road pothole 11What are potholes?

Potholes are the bane of many a motorist’s and cyclist’s life. They can cause extensive damage to tyres and vehicle undercarriages, as well as providing a nasty tripping hazard for pedestrians and an added risk for cyclists as they negotiate their cycle around affected areas, weaving in and out of the traffic.

What’s more, potholes in the road look ugly and make the whole area look awful. The bad news is that potholes are far from uncommon, with an estimated one on six of Britain’s roads around the country considered in urgent need of resurfacing.

Whatever their geographical location, roads, streets, paths and pavements are all susceptible to pot hole formation. They are caused by ground water expanding and contracting after it has seeped under the surface, compromising the concrete, asphalt or other types of material above. As water freezes into ice, it expands, taking up more space and forcing the surface to bend and crack as it takes up more and more room.

The problem with potholes – Is it getting worse?

Then, as it cools back into water, it contracts again, leaving large gaps under the surface that allow even more water to get in. Eventually, the pattern of expanding and contracting weakens the road or pavement so much that the concrete cracks and unsightly potholes form. They are then made even bigger as the weight of heavy vehicles pass over them, weakening and breaking down the surface even more.

The story doesn’t end there. As temperatures drop low enough for groundwater to freeze, so ice, frost and snow settle on the roads and pavements. This makes them slippery and dangerous for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike. Measures are then taken to melt the ice away and so restore a safer surface.

Problems really start when corrosive rock salt is used for this purpose. The chemicals inside it lower the temperature at which the water freezes, thus creating an accelerated freeze-thaw cycle that allows further damage to happen.

How to prevent potholes

Knowing how do potholes form on dirt roads can help to reduce their impact. It is key to spot potholes in the roadsthem early on, so regular street inspections are crucial. Any potholes that are discovered, however large or small they may be, should be reported straight away to the council, who can then arrange their repair.

If the cracks in a developing pothole can be sealed while they are still small and not able to let vast quantities of water in, this can help to mitigate the potential damage caused to the affected roadway. Materials commonly used to repair forming potholes include thermoplastics and cold plastic infill. These prevent water ingress and strengthen the road, adding to its useful lifespan and removing the need for expensive extensive repairs.

Another way is to stop using corrosive rock salt to grit icy roads. The good news is that there are several alternatives that are not as toxic as rock salt and that offer an

excellent solution without harming any surfaces or surrounding wildlife, people or vehicles. Naturally derived de-icing solutions such as EcoGrit Concentrate can make a huge difference to the state of any roads that are treated and lasts up to seven days. It can be safely left to wash away without harming any local water sources or delicate ecosystems beneath the soil.

Then, a longer-term solution could also include measures to reduce the traffic that use the roads. Introducing cycling schemes and incentives for car sharing, for example, could help to cut down on the number of vehicles that actually pass over compromised parts of the road.

Finally, improving water drainage systems can also help matters, as it gives melting water somewhere to run off to without pooling underneath the surface, ready to crack it and create potholes when temperatures move back below freezing. This can also stop water getting trapped on the roads’ surfaces, which can be hazardous for vehicles travelling by that could be at risk of skidding out of control.

Does rain cause potholes?

Talking of water, in a country that sees a great deal of rain, it could be considered that rain makes potholes worse. Rain certainly doesn’t help; however, the real threat is from the freeze-thaw effect underground that commonly happens in colder seasons.

The best way to keep out the rain is to repair cracks and forming potholes when they are discovered, and protecting the road surface by refraining from using rock salt and opting for an environmentally friendly, organic alternative de-icer, such as EgoGrit Concentrate.

Looking for a safer way to de-ice icy surfaces?

Of course, one of the most effective ways to combat the menace that is the rise of pothole formations across the UK and Republic of Ireland is to stop them from forming in the first place – as best as you can.

Only using chemically gentle de-icing products to treat icy surfaces is a highly effective way to protect vulnerable surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt. For more details about the many benefits of EcoGrit Concentrate, speak to an expert at EcoGrit today

Why rock salt is bad news for the road network

When the ice and snow roll into town, the first thing that many organisations reach for is the rock salt. It is known for its easy availability, low cost and ability to melt frozen surfaces to make them safer to walk or drive on in sub-zero temperatures. This approach, however, can lead to a great deal of damage and disruption further down the line and really should be avoided. The chemicals contained in rock salt, otherwise known as sodium chloride, can damage concrete, asphalt and other surfaces severely if used repeatedly and over a long length of time, leading to significant financial outlay.

What happens to concrete and asphalt treated with rock salt?

Concrete is a porous material, meaning that it is covered in tiny holes that absorb water – along with the rock salt that has dissolved into it as the surface ice melts back into liquid form. Melting water expands and exerts internal pressure, causing the concrete to crack. Rock salt-infused concrete can contain increased amounts of water, making it much more likely to crack and break up. Freshly laid concrete is even more susceptible to damage as it cannot withstand the pressure as effectively while it is still settling and hardening.asphalt road with cracks

Asphalt fares slightly better, being less porous than concrete; however, any cracks or fissures already on the surface will allow rock salt and water to enter and cause the same internal damage from increased pressure on the material. It can also be affected by freeze-thaw damage, often revealed by bumps, pot holes and faded surface colour. It also becomes more brittle in lower temperatures, making it weaker overall.

The real cost of rock salt

It is estimated that around two million tonnes of rock salt are spread over the UK’s road network annually. This is done to help keep the country’s traffic moving during harsher weather, and to prevent injuries and deaths on the road from snow, frost and ice-based accidents.

It can be a tempting prospect for individuals and local authorities to go for the cheapest option for de-icing the roads. However, the actual cost of the whole operation can actually be far greater than if they had used safer alternatives, such as organic de-icers or old-fashioned ‘elbow grease’ to shift the ice and snow. Damage

to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure can cause significant delays. This can be from traffic building up behind a vehicle that has had an accident caused by a pot hole or crack and is now immobilised, awaiting the emergency services or roadside assistance, or from road closures and diversions put in place while damaged roads are repaired.

Such delays then have knock-on effects for people trying to get to business meetings, visit vulnerable family members, distribute stock to retail outlets or carry out home deliveries. Thus, threatening the wider UK economy at a time in history when it really needs to be kept as stable as possible, following the repercussions of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

Other issues to watch forcentral london roads

As well as the direct damage that rock salt causes the roads themselves, it can also prove devastating in other, associated ways. Affected areas can lose their aesthetics with increased numbers of cracks, pot holes and evidence of patched-up surface repairs. Many local authorities’ finances are already stretched dealing with urgent road repairs, with little to none left for restoring an area’s aesthetic appeal. Trees and plant life next to roads can also be put at risk, due to the rock salt entering the soil via melted ice and causing damage and harmful chemical changes to roots, water sources and wider ecosystems.

Then, there are the vehicles themselves. Rock salt that sprays up and sticks to the underside of a car, van or lorry can cause the surfaces it comes into contact with to corrode and weaken, thus adding to overall nation-wide costs with increased vehicle maintenance and repair bills. It is a good idea to wash the underside of your vehicle whenever you have been out in icy conditions to cut down on this risk of corrosion and damage.

Rock salt flying up into other modes of transport also affects motorcyclists and cyclists. They can be more susceptible to breathing in, or coming into direct contact with the rock salt and becoming unwell as a result. Breathing difficulties, skin irritation and stomach upsets can all be caused by exposure to sodium chloride. Cyclists and motorcyclists who ride through treated areas are advised to remove all outer clothing before they enter a house or building. Rock salt can cause burns to carpets, rugs and other floor coverings, so remove your boots or shoes at the door as well.

This advice also applies to pedestrians and people riding horses during icy weather. Horse riders should take extra care to ensure that the hooves and legs of their horses are wiped clean and checked regularly for any signs of irritation or injury

during winter months. Do this straight after every walk or whenever the horse has been exercised on or near surfaces that could have been treated with rock salt.

What’s the alternative?

The good news is that there is no need to stick to rock salt for de-icing icy roads and infrastructure. EcoGrit Concentrate is an organic, biodegradable and safe alternative that won’t damage surfaces or leak toxic chemicals into the ecosystem. The granules are non-corrosive, fine and highly effective, working at lower temperatures than rock salt for up to seven days. They will not harm children, pets, local plants or wildlife, making them ideal for use on any exterior surface. Additionally, because it’s soluble, it can be made into a spray to use on metal railings, drain covers and handrails.

EcoGrit Concentrate can be applied in advance of any ice appearing too, allowing you to prepare the roads for sub-zero temperatures in plenty of time. Find out more and order your supplies today at ecogrit.co.uk.

#SayNOtoRockSalt #SayYEStoEcoGrit #PowerToThePeople

Why you should say ‘NO’ to rock salt for de-icing

Rock salt has long been a common choice when it comes to clearing away ice and snow from outdoor surfaces, due to its affordability, availability and ease of application. However, the longer-term effects of using it are far from ideal and can outweigh any short-term benefits by a considerable margin.

Rock salt, or sodium chloride, contains strong chemicals that react with the ground and low temperatures to melt ice back into water. In so doing, it renders a slippery surface safer to walk or drive on in sub-zero temperatures. These chemicals can cause a great deal of harm, not just to the surfaces themselves, but to the people and animals walking on them, as well as the wider environment and ecosystem.

As a country, Britain has long had a right to be proud of its strong civil engineering heritage, creating road networks and structures that have lasted for decades, if not centuries. Now, rock salt is putting this all at risk with its corrosive nature. Damage caused by excessive use of rock salt can lead to unusable roads, long traffic jams, compromised vehicles and risks to the economy if people cannot get where they need to be, or are held up or put off altogether from travelling for business.

Even if applying rock salt achieves an element of short-term ice melting success on the roads, the effects don’t last for long and are ineffective during heavy snow.

There is plenty of evidence around proving that sodium chloride can seriously damage all kinds of exterior surfaces and construction materials, including concrete, stone, brick and asphalt. It can cause cracks, chips and dips in the road that turn into pot holes and larger fractures that lead to tyre punctures and damage to a vehicle’s chassis.

Rock salt can also be thrown up by moving vehicles and stuck to their underside. Over time, it weakens and corrodes the metal with which it has come into contact. Salt that has been spread on or near buildings and structures, such as bridges or steps, can also cause them serious harm if left on too long.

The wider environment

Quite apart from damaging surfaces, rock salt is also highly toxic for the environment and the delicate ecosystems that surround treated pavements, roads and driveways. Unlike other, granular de-icing products, rock salt is made of larger crystals that stay on the surface for ages while working to melt the ice beneath. It is not biodegradable, and the crystals tend to be walked, brushed or swept away by the melted ice into the surrounding soil and on into the groundwater beneath.

Just as we are all being encouraged to live more responsibly and sustainably through reduced use of plastics, lower food miles and smaller carbon footprints, so too must we take care when choosing how to de-ice our exterior surfaces and take account of where products end up after they have done their job.

Once rock salt enters the groundwater, it alters the composition of the soil and can adversely affect the plants that rely on it for efficient growth. This kills them, or stunts their growth, thus reducing food and shelter options for the resident insects, birds and small animals.

Plants that have been damaged by rock salt show signs of underdevelopment, delayed budding, browning leaves and scorching. The salt can also enter nearby water sources, such as ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, thus affecting fish and other marine life. And, so it goes on, affecting and exposing the entire food chain to toxic risks.

Children and animals

It’s not just the wildlife that we must take care of and avoid exposing to rock salt. Our children and pets can be put in equal danger if we don’t take care of our actions when de-icing frosty surfaces. Pets such as cats and dogs have delicate paws that can be injured when they are overly exposed to rock salt. Taking a dog for a winter walk can end up with their paws sustaining painful burns or skin irritations after coming into contact with rock salt.

Symptoms of exposure include soreness, redness and itching. The crystals themselves are sharp too, which can break the skin’s surface and allow the chemicals to enter the bloodstream. Consequently, your pet’s blood sodium concentration could rise to dangerous levels, potentially leading to lethargy, thirst and kidney damage.

Dogs and cats tend to be fastidious when it comes to personal hygiene and will lick themselves to keep clean. It is very hard to get rock salt out of fur, as it has a habit of

sticking to whatever surface it finds itself on. Many cats, dogs and even rabbits also enjoy drinking from puddles whenever they get the chance. This all leads on to rock salt entering their digestive tract and causing stomach upsets, vomiting, drooling and thirst. A whole range of problems that could end up with your pet suffering needlessly and your wallet taking a significant hit at the vet.

Children can also become unwitting victims of rock salt exposure. Contact with rock salt can lead to soreness, redness and irritation in people of all ages, causing additional problems for children with existing skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis. Children frequently put their hands to their face and mouth too, raising the risk of them ingesting the salt and experiencing stomach or digestive problems as a direct result.

Finally, children love to play in the frost and snow, and will be the first to throw snowballs, make snowmen and trek snow indoors on their boots and shoes, potentially spreading rock salt all over the house and adding to the housework burden. Rock salt can burn holes in carpets and rugs if walked inside. The key here is strict adherence to washing hands, removing boots, coats and gloves at the door and working to keep rock salt out of the home and away from people’s skin and mouths as much as possible.

What’s the alternative?

The good news is that there is no need to stick to rock salt for de-icing frosty and icy surfaces. EcoGrit Concentrate is an organic, biodegradable and safe alternative that won’t damage surfaces or leak toxic chemicals into the ecosystem. The granules are non-corrosive, fine and highly effective, working at lower temperatures than rock salt for up to seven days. They will not harm children, pets, local plants or wildlife, making them ideal for use on any exterior surface. Additionally, because it’s soluble, it can be made into a spray to use on metal climbing frames, drain covers and handrails.

EcoGrit Concentrate can be applied in advance of any ice appearing too, allowing you to prepare for sub-zero temperatures in plenty of time. Find out more and order your supplies today at ecogrit.co.uk.

#SayNOtoRockSalt #SayYEStoEcoGrit #PowerToThePeople

Are you a Scraper or De-icer?

Now you don’t need to be either.

The Problem

Deicers used to all be in aerosol cans but nowadays they are in cheap plastic throwaway bottles. They are easy to open and are poorly labelled. The contents of all these deicers are toxic to both humans and animals and yet are made to taste sweet and nice to look at, (they are generally blue or yellow coloured liquids).

Once in use, deicers are often kept in the car where children have access. When they are used to clear the ice from car windows, the slushy toxic remnants end up on driveways, roads and in car parks where it is a danger for pets and wildlife.

When you add up the volume of deicer used over a winter period by motorists it must be a staggering amount of toxic chemicals getting washed away into our groundwater. Industries use deicer on yet another level again.

The Solution

EcoGrit Concentrate has been designed to be used as a straight replacement for deicing and rock salts but its best quality is that it can be made into a solution very simply. This solution is then a non-toxic, non-corrosive and environmentally friendly deicer that can be sprayed. It is an anti-icer as well as a deicer which means wherever you spray, ice cannot form. Also inturn helps with potholes not forming.

Motorists can use it so they would never have to scrape ice off windows again and if you forgot to put it on the night before, you can still use it as a deicer (although it will always be most effective to use it before the onset of ice).

This product can be adapted for use in many industries like rail, roads, facility management and food manufacturers, as it is safe to use anywhere and everywhere. It would be able to be sprayed directly onto roads making it safer to apply when motorists are about. This product ticks all the boxes and more that are required by the rail and road industries and if adopted on a national scale there is no damage to the environment as the product is biodegradable.

Mix in 100g of EcoGrit Concentrate for every litre of cold water.

spray rate about 100 mls/m2

Safe Storage

This product is safe to store in both granular and liquid form. In granular form, it is kept in the dry and in liquid form in a closed container. Neither form carries any danger so are not included in COSHH reports. There is no training needed in the handling of this deicing solution. It is even non-harmful if ingested.

Check out the range of Ice melt products Ecogrit has on offer:

Why do schools close when it snows and others stay open?

I would like to introduce my company, EcoGrit, and the product we have to offer, EcoGrit Concentrate. We are able to keep schools and businesses open safely throughout the winter months without doing damage to the grounds or building, a risk to the children (rock salt) or bringing mess inside the school.

Weather patterns are changing and we need to change our practices along with them. We as a country have made some bold commitments in reducing CO2 output and what that means is that our winters are going to get colder (worse). Conventional gritting methods and products only work to -6C whereas at this point deicing and rock salt freeze along with the ground making it dangerous.

Our product EcoGrit Concentrate works safely to -20C and is non-corrosive, unlike rock salts which destroy everything they come into contact with (potholes in roads & car parks, the environment, wildlife, plants etc). EcoGrit Concentrate has no restrictions (COSHH), in handling and storing. It can be used in the most delicate of environments and is even non-harmful if ingested, although we don’t recommend eating it.

EcoGrit Concentrate has been specifically designed for the coming weather changes and to tick all the right boxes.

  • Biodegradable and environmentally friendly even in large amounts.
  • Plant and garden-friendly, so it won’t damage your playing fields
  • Non-corrosive, it won’t damage your car park, walkways or playgrounds and can be used around pets
  • Natural rust inhibitor so no metalwork is damaged over the winter in fact metal that comes in contact with EGC is actually protected from the elements.
  • Works to -20C meaning that it can’t re-freeze so it doesn’t need putting down daily saving you time, effort and money.
  • It is a concentrate so less product is needed compared to deicing & rock salts.
  • It is granular, it breaks down so fine that mess can’t be walked into buildings saving cleaners a lot of time and effort.
  • Great Rock salt alternative
  • It is soluble so it can be mixed with water to create a spray that can be used anywhere that you don’t want freezing up.

We supply it in either a 5kg bucket, with each containing a scoop for application (coverage 350m2) and these can be bought in any amount (up to 100 on a pallet) delivered or we supply loose in a 1-tonne bag that closes. We recommend this so that then the teachers would be able to keep some in their vehicles in a container to be used at home, just to make sure their car doesn’t get iced in and they can make it into work.

Whatever product isn’t used one winter, will safely store in the dry from year to year. We also allow schools to purchase at the end of winter (March) to help balance their budgets. We can hold the stock for them until they are ready to receive it the following winter.

The product can be purchased directly from our website, just set up an account for your school. You can also connect with me via LinkedIn with any questions and we have the usual media channels of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Times are changing and we need to adapt. EcoGrit Concentrate will help people to do that without too many problems. For any further information please don’t hesitate to contact. Our safety data sheet is available on our website. https://ecogrit.co.uk/

We look forward to helping you keep your school open and your pupils & staff safe.

Check out the range of Ice melt products Ecogrit has on offer:

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