Winter Gritting Experts

The most popular Winter Gritting questions answered.

October 07, 2020

We often get asked questions about how and why we grit the way we do. Here are a few answers to the most popular ones. As the winter gritting experts, we are here to help. Our advice at this time of year is simple: don't wait until it gets cold to arrange your winter gritting and snow clearing services. Contact us today to book your Winter Gritting services.


To grit, or not to grit

One question we get asked a lot is how do we know when we need to grit? In simple terms, the trigger temperature for us to carry out gritting is 0 degrees (the freezing point of water). We employ accurate and sophisticated technology that measures local Road Surface Temperature (RST) rather than relying on air temperature forecasts. Working with our partner MetDesk, we can be sure of a temperature and weather forecasting accuracy of 97.8% at any specific location.

Why is there a difference between road and air temperature?

Winter Gritting Ice warning sign on road

The temperature of our roads often stays higher than the air around them due to them retaining heat from the sun longer than the surrounding air. Roads also do not cool down as quickly as objects such as cars, which is why your car may be covered in frost, while the roads are clear. This is why we use Road Surface Temperature to trigger gritting rather than air temperature alone.


Is De-icing Salt environmentally friendly?


At GRITIT we use sustainable marine salt as our main winter gritting de-icing agent, which is essentially evaporated seawater. It’s more sustainable than mined rock salt and more effective for de-icing, therefore less volume is required. Marine salt is less harmful to plants and vegetation than other forms of gritting products. It’s also much cleaner too, leaving less residue on sites and stains on carpets when trodden into buildings.


Can you grit when it snows?


Winter Gritting Operators - GRITIT Snow Clear

Salt is effective on snow that is less than 40mm deep. Any more than this and the snowmelt will dilute the salt too much that it will become ineffective. In most circumstances, we recommend that snow clearance takes place once the snow has fallen, followed by winter gritting to prevent ice from forming.


When is the best time to grit?


This depends on many factors and there isn’t a single answer we can provide to cover all situations. Typically, we experience freezing conditions at night and early in the mornings, which will cause ice to form. Winter gritting at this time is usually best, as it gives the salt time to work before people need to use the roads and walkways. It is not uncommon for us to visit exposed locations numerous times during a 24hr period, especially if the temperature stays below freezing or weather conditions change. Our team constantly monitors weather conditions and we can provide a service that meets your exact needs.


Winter Gritting Operative - GRITIT

How do you spread salt?


There are several different techniques we use when winter gritting and we predominately use three tried and tested methods: bucket and scoop, pedestrian spreader and vehicle-mounted spreader. Each have their advantages and we select the most suitable for each specific location / task.

Our aim is always to ensure optimal coverage is achieved. It’s not just a case of ‘more is better’ as adding more salt will not speed up the time it takes the ice to melt. All GRITIT operatives are fully trained and our LANTRA winter gritting course is the most comprehensive gritting course available in the UK.


How cold does it get in the UK?


The UK is famous for having wet and rainy summers, so it’s unsurprising to learn that on average we experience over 150 days of rain each year. Our winters are usually cold, with many night time temperatures frequently falling below freezing – perfect conditions for ice to form due to lack of sunshine and movement from people and vehicles.

However, we often encounter harsh winters where consecutive days and nights fail to rise anywhere above freezing, especially in more remote areas. The coldest temperature recorded in the UK was in Scotland when the mercury fell to -27.2 degrees in 1982 & 1995. While the record in England was only slightly warmer at -26.1 degrees recorded in 1982.

To find out how we can support you or to obtain a free quote or site survey, please contact us today.

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