Even if you aren’t, the roads are. Sidewalks, too.

You’ve likely noticed dozens of trucks spreading salt over the last 24 hours or so, but did you ever wonder why? In a way, it’s a two-pronged assault on icy conditions. The main reason to spread salt over potentially icy areas is because the salt lowers the freezing point of water, making it more difficult for icy patches to form. There’s also a secondary benefit: salt can provide a little traction in slick spots.

Could you take a salt shaker outside and do the same thing? Sure, you could … but it would be very time-consuming and, once some moisture hit that shaker, rather frustrating. The salt used on roads, sidewalks & walkways is treated with a number of chemical additives to keep it from caking.

Before the days of motor vehicles, there was no need to clear roads since most travel required horse-drawn sleds; in fact, a snow cover made for a more comfortable and smooth ride than the usual dirt roads. By the 1920’s, however, both plows and gritting vehicles (early salt trucks) came into widespread use with the popularization of the motor vehicle.

Looking to provide a little traction of your own? Check out or Machinery & Tools section for salt spreaders.