Winter Solutions FAQs
Road Guard Plus™ is Tiger Calcium’s proprietary corrosion inhibited anti-icing solution.
What is it and how does it work?
What is calcium chloride?
A component in Road Guard Plus™, calcium chloride is a multi-functional and adaptable chemical compound that has proven to be an effective solution to many challenges across a variety of industrial settings and natural environments. As a result of its ability to depress the freezing point of water, calcium chloride is commonly used in anti-icing and de-icing applications. Calcium chloride is more effective than traditional sodium chloride and is capable of preventing freezing at temperatures as low as -45°C (-49°F).
Are calcium chloride brines a new anti-icing product?
No. In areas with winter climates, various chlorides have been used for snow and ice removal for many decades. Since the 1970s, calcium chloride has been in common use throughout North America because of its superior melting ability and effectiveness in cold temperatures well below the -10° C limit of sodium chloride (rock salt) solutions.
What is liquid anti-icing?
Proactive liquid anti-icing is a well-established practice that requires fewer chlorides and abrasives (such as sand and gravel) to achieve safe roads efficiently and responsibly. Reduced chlorides and lower application rates, combined with the presence of an organic inhibitor, all add up to less opportunity for vehicle corrosion, environmental impact and infrastructure interaction, reducing the risk of concrete/asphalt damage.
What is inhibited calcium chloride?
In the case of Road Guard Plus™, an organic corrosion inhibitor that protects concrete and road infrastructure while delivering the highest quality of winter road management is added to a liquid anti-icing agent made of calcium chloride. Lab tests have shown that inhibited calcium chloride is up to 84% less corrosive than traditional rock salt.
How does the corrosion inhibitor in Road Guard Plus™ work?
In the simplest of terms, corrosion inhibition involves a chemical reaction based on the positive/negative attraction of molecules between metals (such as in a car or a bridge) and the inhibitor. The attraction creates a thin ‘film’ that protects the metal surface from the impact of chlorides.
What are the benefits of using a liquid anti-icing product such as Road Guard Plus™?
Liquid anti-icers reduce ice formation and prevent bonding between ice and pavement, allowing for easier plowing and snow removal. This reduces the scraping of roads and the wear caused by abrasives and plows. It also leads to reduced plow maintenance costs and a smaller carbon footprint for maintenance vehicles—since plowing is required less frequently.
One of the most important benefits of a liquid anti-icing product is of course safety for drivers and pedestrians. With liquid anti-icing, safer roads are achieved at a lower overall cost. There is also a reduction in total applied chlorides, which leads to reduced infrastructure and environmental impact and improved water quality.
Liquids stay on the road more effectively than solid materials, and liquids act as an adhesive for salt and sand/gravel, keeping it on the roadways where it increases friction and effectiveness as needed. Anti-icing lowers the amount of rock salt and sand that scatters off the road, requiring less of these materials to be applied and less cleanup after the season ends. This supports improved air quality and fewer abrasives collected in drainage infrastructure.
How is Road Guard Plus™ applied?
It is sprayed directly onto the road or sidewalk surface (anti-icing), applied directly to ice-pack if proactive measures weren’t an option (de-icing) or applied to sand/salt to dampen it prior to road sanding enhancing the effectiveness of these tools (de-icing and road management).
What is the difference between anti-icing and de-icing?
Anti-icing is a proactive winter road solution that helps road maintenance operators take action ahead of a snow event for efficient snow removal.
Anti-icing product is lightly sprayed onto roads as much as 48-72 hours ahead of a snow event to prevent the snow from sticking to the pavement. This reduces accumulation and ice formation and helps roads stay clear longer. It makes snow removal easier, reducing the need for plowing and sanding.
De-icing involves applying the product after a snowfall, to more efficiently melt snow and ice after it has accumulated.
Will Road Guard Plus™ make roads more slippery once snow melts and then refreezes?
No, Road Guard Plus™ will not make roads more slippery. Under some conditions, such as a major snow fall, the product may become diluted by melted snow, and reapplication will be required to support continued effectiveness. Failure to reapply or to apply other road management alternatives (abrasives) may result in a refreeze of the liquid snow that remains on the road—something that would have occurred earlier without an anti-icing application.
Is Road Guard Plus™ used the same way on all roads?
No. It is used in a variety of ways and in moderately varying quantities depending on the conditions of the roads and forecasted weather.
How much money can Road Guard Plus™ save a municipality?
The answer is dependent on a number of factors such as weather conditions, the duration and severity of winter, and more. However, numbers provided by Carmacks based on a large highway maintenance project in Edmonton, Alta. point to considerable savings.
Carmacks has used Road Guard Plus™ for the past five winter seasons on Edmonton’s Northwest Anthony Henday Drive ring road project. The company reports that during this time, Road Guard Plus™ reduced the total chlorides used (mostly sodium chloride) on NW Anthony Henday Drive by two-thirds. Carmacks also saw a reduction in sand costs of approximately 25%, a reduction in salt costs of 25-30% and a reduction in equipment hours of roughly 15%.
Is it safe?
Is Road Guard Plus™ inhibited anti-icing product corrosive?
Road Guard Plus™, includes an organic-based corrosion inhibitor. This corrosion inhibitor makes up about 10% of the finished formulation of Road Guard Plus™ and protects vehicles, roads and infrastructure from corrosion. Lab tests have shown that our inhibited anti-icer is up to 84% less corrosive than traditional rock salt (sodium chloride).
The City of Edmonton, which is using Road Guard Plus™ in its anti-icing project, has stated that it does not expect to see an increase in vehicle corrosion for two reasons. First, this inhibited solution has been proven to be less corrosive than traditional sodium chloride road salt, which is mixed into the road sand that Edmonton has been using for many years. Second, the city expects to apply less of the product to roads, when compared to other chlorides in their road management tool kit.
We are proud to say that Tiger Calcium’s Road Guard Plus™ is a PNS-approved product. To get PNS approval, anti-icing and de-icing products must be at least 70% less corrosive than rock salt brine. PNS-approved products are proven to be the safest alternatives available when it comes to interacting with people, wildlife, the environment, vehicles and infrastructure.
What is the PNS and why is it important?
In North America, the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters (PNS) association conducts independent testing of winter roads maintenance products to help clarify complexities in the market and ensure that products are safe and meet the required standards for widespread use.
The PNS is a non-commercial, independent group with a mission to “serve the traveling public by evaluating and establishing specifications for products used in winter maintenance that emphasize safety, environmental preservation, infrastructure protection, cost-effectiveness and performance.”
Can chlorides cause corrosion on vehicles?
Solutions containing chlorides (e.g. sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride) are hygroscopic in nature, meaning that they attract water molecules that can promote corrosion.
Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride attract more water than sodium chloride, making them more corrosive in their natural state. Corrosion inhibitors can be added to chloride brines to limit their corrosive effects. Road Guard Plus™ is an inhibited calcium chloride, containing a highly effective organic corrosion inhibitor. Lab tests have shown that inhibited calcium chloride is up to 84% less corrosive than traditional rock salt (sodium chloride).
Another factor to consider is that increasing freeze-thaw cycles can result in increased corrosion risk unrelated to what chloride is used. Driving outside in -10°C temperatures and parking in a heated garage overnight allows snow and ice to melt, exposing vehicles to moisture and corrosion opportunities. In cases such as this, a corrosion inhibitor is particularly important.
Is calcium chloride safe for roads, bridges and infrastructure?
Calcium chloride itself does not “attack” concrete and asphalt. If the product does what it is supposed to do—melt snow and ice sooner than would happen if untreated—it will create melt water. Because concrete and asphalt are porous, the melt water cannot help but penetrate beneath the surface and potentially cause chips, cracks and potholes as it becomes solid and expands.
This is a physical process caused by the freeze-thaw cycle, not a chemical process.
However, freeze-thaw damage can be prevented by using high quality materials and sound construction practices. If concrete is properly cured and sealed to prevent water absorption, it won’t experience the same damage as uncured concrete.
When chloride, oxygen and moisture come together on the surface of unprotected steel reinforcement (rebar) embedded in concrete, corrosion can result. However, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) found calcium chloride to be significantly less corrosive to steel than two types of salt and magnesium chloride. As an inhibited calcium chloride, Road Guard Plus™ is safer for roads and bridges than all uninhibited chloride alternatives.
Is Road Guard Plus™ safe for people?
The small amounts of brine spread thinly and used as recommended on roads for anti-icing and de-icing has not been shown to cause any health concerns.
Is Road Guard Plus™ safe for pets and wildlife?
When it is applied for anti-icing and de-icing following the recommended application rates, this product presents a very low hazard to animals (and humans).
Brief contact with inhibited calcium chloride should not cause irritation. After extended exposure to the product, such as after a winter walk, wiping or rinsing your pet’s feet should avoid any risk of possible irritation. Pet owners should also be vigilant and stop their pets from drinking puddled winter water which can contain wide-ranging contaminants including dirt, animal waste, road maintenance materials and other pollutants. In any case, inhibited calcium chloride should cause fewer concerns than other traditional chloride solutions used by municipalities.
Of course, if an animal (or person) ingests a highly concentrated chloride solution or has direct contact or prolonged exposure to it, this can be dangerous and should be treated by a veterinary professional.
Road Guard Plus™ has a bitter taste that does not attract big game and other wildlife to the road. Fewer animals will be attracted to the roads compared to using rock salt, thus reducing driving hazards.
Is Road Guard Plus™ safe for the environment?
Tiger Calcium’s products are known industry-wide to be environmentally responsible and are not considered to be hazardous substances. In fact, calcium chloride is commonly used in agribusiness as an additive in animal feed and as a fertilizer for specific soil conditions.
Road Guard Plus™ is:
- fully biodegradable
- less toxic to aquatic life than oil, lignosulfonate and dish soap
- does not bio-accumulate or have the potential to contaminate the food chain (according to Environment Canada)
- not a restricted material in transport
- has minimal impact on water, air, plants and wildlife
- requires less sand and traditional salt to be used, which benefits the environment and reduces cleanup costs
Is Road Guard Plus™ safe for grass and vegetation?
As long as it is applied correctly, using proper application methods and rates, inhibited calcium chloride should have little to no impact on grass and vegetation near a surface being treated. Tiger Calcium trains users on the appropriate application techniques and quantities for our products.
However, it is possible for grass and vegetation to be damaged if calcium chloride is over-applied or if it’s directly applied in large quantities to grass and vegetation. The same damage would occur with over-application of any chlorides or fertilizers.
Alternative winter solutions
Do you still have to use salt and sand with this product?
No, you do not have to use salt and sand with Road Guard Plus™. However, it is safe to do so, and depending on the conditions, it is often recommended. Road Guard Plus™ can also be used to wet the sand before the sand is applied to roads, making it more effective. Ideally, these ingredients should all be used, in proper combination, to support optimal winter roads management.
Why would you recommend using this product with salt and sand?
As explained above, anti-icing is a proactive measure best taken ahead of a snow event. Depending on the duration and intensity of a snow event, snow buildup may still occur. In those cases, plowing—another element of a complete winter road management plan—may still be required, and is much easier to do on treated roads. In instances of unexpected precipitation, or other situations where pre-treatment is impractical, pre-wet sand and salt are good alternatives. Given the wide range of winter weather conditions in most Canadian cities, no single road management solution is ideal at all times.
When it comes to highway safety, studies show that calcium chloride/salt mixtures achieve bare pavement faster than salt alone at temperatures near -1°C (30°F) in 85% of applications, easing traffic and reducing accidents. Calcium chloride increases the effectiveness of salt, therefore reducing the number of applications necessary during storms and the cost of labour, equipment and materials. Calcium chloride also freeze-proofs abrasives to help them embed in ice and snow, which means that less material is lost to spreader bounce and scattering by vehicle traffic.
Why not just use sand for winter road management?
While sand provides some traction, it does not melt snow or ice and can bounce or scatter off the roads. This results in greater costs for snow removal and road cleanup.
Why not just use rock salt?
Rock salt is selected as an alternative to remove snow and ice from surfaces because it is inexpensive and widely available. However, it has significant downsides.
Rock salt (sodium chloride) is ineffective as a melting agent when the temperature drops below -10°C—which happens often over the winter season in many North American cities. Furthermore, research shows that, among de-icing products, salt causes the greatest corrosion to steel.
Grass and other vegetation can be harmed if rock salt de-icer is over-applied on a nearby road surface or if large quantities are directly applied to grass or vegetation.
What about this beet mixture I’ve heard about?
Beet juice itself does not help melt snow and ice. It can be added to rock salt brines as an inhibitor to reduce corrosion, but it protects against corrosion less effectively than the proprietary inhibition formula of Road Guard Plus™.
If beet juice finds its way into streams, it can be harmful to aquatic ecosystems, attracting unwanted bacteria. Road Guard Plus™ has been proven to be less toxic than beet by-product mixtures.