The price of road salt has surged over 20 percent since last winter due to low supplies ahead of winter. Prices on average are twice what they were last season, but in some areas are five times as much. The National Weather Service says last year's heavy snows don't look likely this year.
Overall last winter's weather was early, exceptionally heavy and prolonged. What it means is that we and our customers started with essentially zero inventory this season.
– Tara Hart spokeswoman for Compass Minerals International Inc., one of the largest suppliers of road salt in North America
Despite the price increase, salt companies have not seen a decline in contracts because road de-icing isn't something municipalities can afford to cut back on. 'The demand does not go away. Because everyone needs salt,' Hart said.
CMP Stock Price & News - Compass Minerals International Inc. - Wall Street Journal
In 2013, transportation officials adopted additives during winter to keep salt working at temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. The officials needed the additives because salt used to de-ice roadways is ineffective below 16 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beet Juice, Molasses, Even Cheese Brine Being Used To Treat Frozen Roadways - CBS Pittsburgh
It's all about availability… States are using whatever they can find that works, especially in low temperatures.
– Tony Dorsey, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials spokesman
Last season, New York and Penn. tested sugar beet juice—which is created during the sugar refining process—as an additive. Ohio's Hamilton County used nontoxic ash from coal power plants. Washington state mixed molasses with saltwater, creating a gooey mixture that kept roadways clear for up to four days.
In Dec. 2012, Milwaukee began a pilot program in which cheese brine is dumped on the city's roads to help melt ice and snow. The brine is a waste product created when making cheese. The city spent $6.5 million combating snow and ice on the roads in 2012-- the pilot cost $6,500.