Q: Why do people use de-icing salt or rock salt?
A: Rock salt is the most effective and economical material available for melting road snow and ice. The timely application of rock salt has been proven to pay for itself many times over in both increased public safety and actual economic savings. A recent Standard and Poor’s DRI study of 12 northeastern states, including New York, found that $526.5 million a day in federal, state, and local tax revenues would be lost if impassable roadways paralyzed the region. This figure greatly exceeds the $518.7 million typically spent on snow and ice removal by the 12 northeastern states for the entire winter season. The report further states that lost taxes are not the biggest impact. A crippling snowstorm costs $1.4 billion per day in unearned wages and $600 million per day in lost retail sales.
Q: What is salt comprised of?
A: Sodium Chloride, NaCl, or salt, is found naturally throughout the earth, in rocks and in the sea. It is the only rock consumed by people.
Q: Do all people need salt?
A: Yes! Salt is a necessity because it transports nutrients and oxygen through the human body, enabling muscles to move. Every adult’s body contains about 250 grams of salt or three to four salt shakers worth. As the body loses salt through perspiration and in other ways, the salt supply must be replenished.
Q: What is the difference between table salt and de-icing (or rock) salt?
A: Both are simply salt. The only difference is the size of the crystals and the amount and type of trace minerals or additives that are included. Table salt usually contains iodine. Rock salt, which is very coarse, often includes an additive to prevent clumping. In most instances, table salt is evaporated out of ocean water or a brine solution.
Q: What is halite?
A: Halite is another word for salt.
Q: What does halite look like?
A: Crystals of halite are usually transparent gray or white in color. In rare instances, halite crystals which contain small amounts of certain minerals can be found in blue, purple, pink, and yellow.
Q: When was the first salt mine built in Western New York?
A: The first construction of a shaft salt mine was completed in Livingston County in 1884. Previously, all other facilities were wells sunk for evaporation of salt.
Q: Where did salt come from before the first salt mine was established in America?
A: A well pumped up brine (salty water) from the earth and was evaporated to form the salt. Some salt came from the solar evaporation of shallow lakes.
Q: How deep underground does the American Rock Salt mine reach?
A: In 1998, American Rock Salt built a production shaft that reaches 1,433 feet into the earth.
Q: What methods are used to mine the salt?
A: Salt is mined in an underground halite deposit by undercutting, drilling, and blasting to remove the salt. It is then crushed and screened to the desired size and brought to the surface to be bagged or shipped in bulk to the customer.
Q: What is the amount of salt available for mining at American Rock Salt?
A: Currently, more than 225 million tons are available.
Q: How much de-icing salt does American Rock Salt produce annually?
A: Over three million tons are produced annually.
Q: How old is the bed of salt in the American Rock Salt mine?
A: Approximately 400 million years old.
Q: How does salt melt ice?
A: To melt ice, salt lowers the freezing point of water. When rock salt is applied properly, small amounts of salt partially melt the ice and form a brine solution. This solution flows under the ice and breaks the bond between the ice and the pavement. This enables the snow plows to remove the ice from the roads.