Storing Salt Smartly
Salt is both non-negotiable and unforgiving. When you need it for snow events, you need it now. When you store it—because you must—its corrosive properties threaten the life cycle of whatever building houses it.
When the snow flies, DOTs, cities and counties need to mobilize to keep roads open and navigable. Salt is a vital tool in the snow warriors’ arsenal. Since snow events can very quickly escalate into emergency situations, plow drivers need to get in, get the salt quickly, and get out on the road again.
The rest of the year, you need to protect your salt investment from the weather. Wind and moisture can deteriorate the quality of stored salt, and that’s why salt storage is so important. Moreover, if you have a place to store road salt, you can take advantage of off-season rates or bulk discounts when buying it. This gives you the trifecta of protecting your investment, saving taxpayer dollars and keeping the roads open.
In addition, permanent road salt storage buildings also comply with environmental regulations requiring storage systems that prevent leaching and groundwater pollution. “We are definitely seeing an increase in legislation that protects groundwater from salt run-off,” said Matt Van Scoyoc, Building and Project Design Consultant for Legacy Building Solutions.
3 Factors to consider when designing your salt facility
Salt storage buildings should be custom designed for maximum efficiency. Here are three factors to consider:
- Required capacity—salt piles grow and shrink over the course of a year, so you need to know what you need for storage in both June and December.
- Loading method—getting the salt in the trucks must be a seamless process when it’s getting white outside.
- Number of vehicles in use—the size and number of salt trucks in your fleet will help determine the most practical design.
“There’s more to building design than just the size needed,” said Van Scoyoc. “The best salt storage buildings will also be designed with clearance for conveyors and tipping trucks, separate entrances for workers and equipment, and enough lighting to address safety concerns.” Our experienced building designers will engineer a building around all your requirements.
A logical custom-designed building can also eliminate safety concerns by providing clear drive paths and adequate space.
Fabric Buildings Versus Corrosion
Municipalities, for the most part, know the value of fabric structures when it comes to salt storage. The days of “throw a tarp over it” are over. While architectural fabric itself resists the very corrosive environment created by salt storage, the frames that hold the building together are not always so lucky. Corrosion can damage steel panels and fasteners within just a few years.
We have designed our buildings to combat corrosion in a number of ways:
- We use solid steel, rigid structures not hollow tubes
- Our patented system for attaching the fabric eliminates many of the ways moisture and corrosion can affect our steel.
- Our various epoxy coatings, correctly applied, don’t just slow down corrosion like Hot Dipped Galvanization—they create a barrier between the salt and the steel framework.
“Legacy buildings are really ideal for salt storage,” said Van Scoyoc. “The fabric, the rigid frame and the ExxoTec™ PVC fabric are all optimized for daily use by municipal and commercial snow removal operations. And of course, the natural light inside a fabric building allows for ongoing energy cost savings.”
A fabric salt storage building is one tool for city, county and state officials to both keep the roads open and protect the taxpayers’ money.