Backus Hospital Newsletter

(February 11,2005) A weekly newsletter for employees, volunteers, patients and friends of The William M. Backus Hospital.
326 Washington Street, Norwich, CT 06360.  Published by the Public Relations Dept., third floor Annex, x-4017

Magic salt eases slippin’ and slidin’

Usually at this time of year, Environmental Services personnel at Backus Hospital are vacuuming up huge quantities of sand – brought in from the parking areas by pedestrian traffic; and, unsightly white patches caused by rock salt area usually all to visible on the entrance runners and very difficult to remove.

By this time of year, event though Maintenance employees are hard at work sanding and salting parking areas, a few employees have slipped on ice or snow. Throughout the month of January 2005, which saw an appreciable snowfall, there were no reported employee falls. And, this winter, there have been no reports of visitors or patients falling the the parking areas.

What’s making the difference this winter? Some say it might be the use of “Magic Salt.”

The Backus Maintenance Department is conducting a one-year trial of this melting substance, which is according to Bob Coggeshall, Assistant Maintenance Manager of Maintenance at Backus, rock salt treated with a liquid, agricultural by-product of the distilling process blended with magnesium chloride.

The resulting material, which resembles brown sugar and smells like molasses, is a non-toxic, biodegradable, highly effective ice melter – while rock salt alone stops melting when the temperature falls below 18° F, Magic Salt treats ice and snow when the temperature is minus 35° F.

The material also has a corrosive index lower than distilled water, thereby, the Hospital’s dump trucks and concrete storage areas are treated much more kindly.

While half as much Magic Salt is needed as regular rock salt, it is more expensive and costs more than a sand and salt mixture. The cost, however, is saved in patient, visitor and employee safety – which cannot be measured monetarily, and in employee work-hours.

Members of the Environmental Services Department give Magic Salt credit for reducing their efforts in vacuuming sand off the rugs at the entrances to the Hospital. While they still have to vacuum every two hours, the debris is easily picked up. This gives them more time to do their normal Hospital duties.

Mr. Coggeshall said that in addition to employees and visitor safety, and less cleanup time and effort, the benefits of using Magic Salt include:

  • It works better and lasts longer – it takes less to melt ice and snow than any other ice-melter and it doesn’t harm curbside grassed areas or plants and it leaves no visible residue.
  • Applications are reduced by 30 – 50%, and the need for sand is mostly eliminated. Because of residual effects, black ice is virtually non-existent in the parking areas, as residual effects negate snow and ice from sticking to the pavement.

Perhaps best of all, it’s environmentally friendly, releasing far less chlorides into the environment than plain rock salt or calcium chloride, and it’s safe for people to handle.

All in all, “Magic Salt” thus far really does seem to be living up to its name.