Salt Kills Cars

Nathan Kobuszewski, Author

Some New Englanders dread winter, and others love winter. But one thing that all New Englanders can agree on is that when winter hits, everything gets icy and slippery. The most common thing for people to do when the ice and snow hits is to put down salt on the roads and sidewalks. However this may not be the best solution. 

Road salt is a common method used for melting ice on roads. Do you know the side effects it can have on your vehicle? Salt creates a chemical reaction that speeds up the oxidation of the metal that can cause rust on your car. Here in Ipswich, the town uses salt on the roads and many students at IHS have seen the side effects of it. Seth Woodbury, a senior at IHS says, “The undercarriage of my car has rusted from the salt.”

Another IHS Student, Dan O’Caroll, says that he also has had issues with rust on the undercarriage of his car.

There are ways to prevent rust on your car. Some simple solutions include getting your car waxed. When you wax your car it creates a protective layer or coating on the outside of your car. Now it may not help with the undercarriage but it is a great solution for the outside of your car. Another solution is to get things like scratches, scrapes, or rust spots on your car fixed so that the salt can’t make them worse. Get regular car washes. Finally when driving, give the car in front of you, especially trucks, a little more room because salt can spray off of the wheels of the car in front of you.

Some alternatives that you can use that have the same benefits as salt but none of the harsh consequences are sand and weirdly enough sugar and beet juice. Some of the benefits of using sand are that it has very little to no impact on surrounding areas such as waterways or rivers. When walking on ice that has been treated with sand you will find that you slip a lot less as sand is excellent at giving you traction when walking on ice. Now I know it may sound odd, but sugar beet juice is a very good alternative to salt. It gives you all the benefits of using salt but none of the rusting and it is 99% biodegradable.

One thing you should steer clear of is kitty litter. Many people use kitty litter instead of salt because it’s easy to get. You just go down to the pet store and buy yourself a big 40-pound bag. What they don’t know is that although it gives you great traction like sand, the clay in many brands can clump and during the next storm can freeze over and stick to the surrounding surfaces, that includes your car.

In conclusion, salt can damage and erode your car so the next time there is a big snowstorm and roads and sidewalks are icy try using some alternatives like sand or sugar beet juice. It will save you the headache of having to fix rust spots on your car in the future.