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Weather Works: Why is salt used to cure icy roads?

Meteorologist Taylor Stephenson explains the answer as to why salt is the compound of choice on this episode of "Weather Works."

MACON, Ga. — When winter weather is expected in any part of the country, transportation workers warm up the infamous salt trucks.

Crews work hours before a snow or ice event to try and make sure the roads don't freeze over.

The reason that salt is used to cure the streets is due to its chemical makeup.

Two types of salt are used to make the combo that helps the roads. The first salt is typical table salt or sodium chloride. The second salt is magnesium chloride.

When salt comes into contact with water, the salt lowers the freezing point of the water. This means that it would take much colder temperatures to freeze the water on the roads than normal.

Instead of the water freezing at 32 degrees, the road temperatures would need to be in the 20s for ice to form in the presence of salt.

The scientific name for this process is called "freezing point depression." From this lesson, now you can appreciate salt for more than just its tasty properties.

That's how your weather works! If you have any questions on weather phenomena and why they work, email us at news@13wmaz.com. Your question may be the next Weather Works topic!

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