Liquids work by melting snow from the bottom up, preventing it from bonding to the pavement. The use of liquids is a part of anti-icing technology, which involves pretreating pavement with a liquid brine before a snowfall to prevent snow and ice from bonding to it. Anti-icing technology allows for the clear removal of snow down to the pavement. Salt can then be applied more sparingly to maintain safety. Untreated pavement will have snow and ice bonded to it after the snow removal which requires a heavier salt application. Liquids work best when applied a few hours before a snowfall. They can remain effective for a few days before the event. Liquids will dry on the surface and wait to be activated by a snowfall. Liquids can be washed off by rain, so watching the weather forecast is important.
Anti-icing technology has been in use by many street and highway departments now for over 20 years. Liquid pretreating is rapidly growing because of its proven effectiveness in reducing salt use. Departments of transportation, municipal and county street departments report that every pound of liquid used in pretreat saves four pounds of dry salt that would be required otherwise. Anti-Icing saves money and reduces salt use which is better for the environment.