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How To Remove Road Salt & Why It’s Important
9th January 2024 Carbon Collective

How To Remove Road Salt & Why It’s Important

Posted in Hints & Tips

How To Remove Road Salt & Why It’s Important

In an ever-changing climate, keeping our roads useable in the winter months is a never-ending battle, but the main weapon in this fight is the consistent use of road salt.

What is Road Salt:

When you think of the term “road salt” you assume it’s created using the same stuff you have on your dinner table mixed with some grit, when in fact it’s a multitude of chemicals, designed to keep your car on the road.

Road salt is created from a mix of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, and sodium acetate, this is normally the basis for most road salts around the world.

Salts are ionic compounds which means that they are two oppositely charged ions held together by a strong static-electric attraction. For example, table salt is made of a negatively charged chloride ion (anion) and a positively charged sodium ion (cation).

Why it’s important to remove it from your vehicle:

Chemicals in Road Salt rapidly accelerate corrosion on steel, alloy & magnesium, causing chassis and suspension components to corrode and an accelerated rate. While salt can be dissolved in water, bonded grains of salt are not easily removed by pressure washing or hand washing alone, even submersion for long periods in a water bath will only remove a small percentage of bonded salt crystals.

When removing salt from the surface without chemical neutralisation, road salts react with organic molecules such as fuels, oil, and other inorganic molecules from the road, forming a coating on the vehicle’s surface that isn’t easily removed with water alone, our Elixir Salt Remover neutralises road salt, helping minimise corrosion and increasing the life span of your vehicle.

Low pH pre-wash vs High pH pre-wash:

A low pH (below 7 pH) pre-wash is used for removing granular road salt, grit & inorganic road film, whereas a high pH pre-wash (above 7 pH) is used to remove grease, grime & general dirt deposits.

Both of these methods have their own individual benefits, but neither can do both of the tasks required for full decontamination, which is why we recommend both for the ultimate 2-step pre-wash process.

Two-Step Cleaning Process:

When removing road salt, the lower pH Step 1 (our Elixir Salt Remover) does the heavy lifting, and the high pH alkaline Step 2 (our Ultimus Plus Snow Foam) works to neutralise any remaining chemicals left behind from Step 1, leaving you with a near-neutral water run-off, whilst removing grime and general dirt deposits.

For best results, it’s recommended to use a 2-step pre-wash method every time you wash your vehicles – and this is applicable throughout the year, salt remains on the road even after the winter months have passed.

That’s because it won’t just help against road salt, it will help against multiple kinds of soils, grime, and road film as well – something that can be very difficult to remove from standard washing alone.

It is important to make sure you also clean the undercarriage and chassis components as thoroughly as possible, salt build-up is typically more concentrated here and can hide very easily between panel gaps or chassis components, accelerating rust and corrosion.

Rubberised underseal on classic cars becomes brittle over time, cracking and exposing the non-protected metal finish, this is where salt and water cause a problem, creeping into the cracks and accelerating rust. Older cars are particularly susceptible to this as they are not E-coated from the factory, this process was only introduced widely in the 1990’s in large-scale manufacture.

How to Remove Road Salt:

The first step is our Elixir Salt Remover, you want this to be the first thing to contact any bonded salt, using this after a pre-wash or pre-rinse may alter the pH level or dilute the product reducing the effect it has on targeting the salt.

Elixir concentrate can be applied in multiple ways, diluted in a spray bottle, or applied via a snow foam lance or hose adapter.

On first use, we suggest a stronger dilution to remove any long-term salt build-up (please see the dilutions below and tailor to the vehicle)

  • Apply to the lower half of the vehicle, under arches, chassis and around wheel arches.
  • Leave to dwell for 10 minutes, rinse until water runs clear.

Suggested Dilution Levels:

Deep Clean – Prior to protection
Via Spray Bottle:150ml/850ml Water – pH 4.5
Via Snow Foam Lance:200ml/800ml Water – pH 6.5

Maintenance Clean – Protected with Helix
Via Spray Bottle:100ml/900ml water- pH 6.0
Via Snow Foam Lance:100ml/900ml – pH 6.7
Via Hose Adapter: Neat – pH 6.5

Follow up with a dedicated pre-wash Cleaner:

Once you’ve neutralised the salt and other inorganic minerals with Elixir Salt Remover, the next step is to follow up with a pre-wash cleaning detergent.

We suggest pre-washing with our Ultimus Snow Foam or Ultimus+ Snow foam, repeating the process above, cleaning with an alkaline-based pH neutral pre-wash/snow foam will help neutralise any remaining chemicals from step 1 and remove any built-up dirt and grime that could be holding salt particles.







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