Removing salt residue from plows for summer storage
Removing salt from plows to prevent corrosion is relatively easy compared to other chemicals.
Frequent and thorough washing of deicer residues from your equipment is the best way to protect it from corrosion, and the good news is that deicer chemicals are pretty easy to remove. The most commonly used deicing chemicals are chloride salts; sodium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. It turns out that chloride salts are also the most corrosive to steel, but, again, the good news is that the chloride salts are also very water soluble. In fact, they have to be. That is what makes them such good deicers.
A good deicer has to be able to dissolve very easily in water at cold temperatures. We should assume then that we could, very easily, wash away deicer residues just by rinsing with water. This is true with the caveat that the water has to be able to actually reach the deicer residues. There can be some factors that make that more difficult. There can be nooks and crannies in the equipment that makes it harder for the water to reach it. Deicer residues can get glued onto equipment surfaces by residual dirt and oil from the environment. That can serve to coat it and insulate it from the rinsing water.
There are a variety of commercial products that have been formulated to facilitate the rinsing and cleaning of deicer residues from equipment. These products typically contain an additive called a surfactant, and surfactants are the main active ingredient in detergent formulations. Of course we use detergents to clean things, and the reason that we have a surfactant in detergents is that the things that we are trying to clean, typically dirt and oil-type residues, are often not very water soluble.
Surfactants help to disperse these insoluble materials in the water and make it easier for the water to remove them. That is one way that surfactants help to clean. Another way is by increasing the wetting ability of water. We have all seen that water can tend to bead up when it is on a surface, and this is due to a property of the water called the surface tension, and surfactants will lower the surface tension of water. This causes the droplets to spread out and coat the surface and do a better job of contacting it and rinsing it.