Why Is Salt the Best Way To Melt Snow On Roads?

When salt is sprinkled on snow, the freezing point of the ice (in the snow) gets lowered, which is why the snow or ice melts away. However, even this technique of sprinkling salt to melt snow won’t work if the temperature is below -16 degrees Celsius.

Salt, in a way, is the sweetest thing in the world. Now, I don’t mean sweet like sugar; I just mean that salt is a hugely important part of our lives. It is an absolute necessity in many of the dishes that constitute our daily meals. Not only that, but salt has many other applications that which are pretty unexpected and exciting. For example, salt is used to melt the snow that accumulates on roads and sidewalks! Without salt, our winter wonderlands would be a lot more difficult to navigate!

How Does Salt Melt Snow?

Salt lowers the freezing point of ice. Under normal conditions, the freezing point of ice is 0 degrees Celsius, but the freezing point of sea water (which is saline, due to the presence of salt in it) is lower (-2.2 degrees Celsius).

When salt is sprinkled on snow, the freezing point of the ice (in the snow) gets lowered, which is why the snow or ice melts away. However, even this technique of sprinkling salt to melt snow won’t work if the temperature is below -16 degrees Celsius.

Why Does Salt Lower the Freezing Point?

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The answer to that is quite simple. A water molecule is made up of 2 Hydrogen atoms and 1 Oxygen atom, which link together strongly to form ice. When salt (NaCl), which possesses Sodium atoms, comes in contact with them, it becomes difficult for the Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms to combine to form ice. Therefore, our streets and roads can be cleared, and we’re left with a salty landscape rather than a snowy one!

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About the Author:

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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