Buyer’s Guide to Salt Spreaders and Road Gritters

Salt spreaders and grit spreaders
Salt spreaders and grit spreaders from VALE Engineering

Salt spreaders and grit spreaders are also known as rock salt spreaders, road gritters or sometimes sanders. Salt spreaders or grit spreaders, as the name implies, are used to dispense and spread salt onto any highway, road or path surface needing protection from snow or ice during winter – or when ice or snow has formed on the highway, road or path surface and needs to be removed.

A priority for a salt spreader (gritter) is to have the ability to spread all types of salt during winter. It is not unusual, during prolonged winter periods of ice and snow, that salt supplies become limited and the only option is to spread damp or wet brown rock salt. Therefore, the salt spreader you choose should always be specified as being able to use all types of salt – from fine grade marine salt, which is very pure and free flowing, to brown rock salt which is normally difficult to spread. All salt is hydroscopic – meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. This means that even the best quality salt can become problematic to spread. To combat this serious winter maintenance problem, the entire VALE Engineering range of gritters features the unique POZI-FEED auger system. Using a salt spreader, grit spreader, gritter or sander that incorporates the POZI-FEED auger ensures that salt – whether damp or wet, brown or white – can be spread through the winter without a problem.

There are various types of salt spreader on the market. Two popular types of salt spreader are the broadcast type that spreads salt by dispensing it from a spinning disc, and the drop spreader type that drops a metered amount of salt from a roller located at the bottom of a hopper. Whilst the drop salt spreader [link] type of gritter is limited by the spreading width of the roller, it has the advantage that salt is positioned accurately making it ideal for footpaths and walkways that need to be kept clear of ice and snow.

Broadcast gritters are most commonly used for gritting roads or highways and for gritting car parks and other wide open spaces. This type of gritter is used in conjunction with wagons often referred to as gritter trucks. Gritters can also be tow-behind (trailed/trailer) using an appropriate towing vehicle ranging from a robust 4×4 to a large agricultural tractor depending on the size of the broadcast gritter. Broadcast gritters are sometimes also referred to as trailer gritters [link], tow-behind or tow-along gritters.  The most popular tow-behind (trailed/trailer) salt spreader in the VALE Engineering range of winter maintenance equipment is the TS1200, available either as a 4 x 4 towed High-speed Salt Spreader or as a Trailed Salt Spreaders designed for distribution centre.

Tractors are used extensively with salt gritters, whether by agricultural contractors working for a local authority or by the local authority highways department itself as part of a winter maintenance programme. Salt spreaders for use with tractors include tractor mounted gritters or 3 point linkage gritters as well as tractor tow-behind (trailed/trailer) gritters.  These salt gritters and grit spreaders vary in size depending on the tractor used. The use of tractors for salt gritting on UK roads and highways has steadily increased since the HMRC changed legislation to allow tractors to grit on the road or highway using red diesel. As there is also no maximum working radius to limit a tractor’s operational distance, tractors can grit during winter just as a gritting truck would do.