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Gritting (salting) FAQs


We actually use rock salt to reduce the risk of winter hazards. The salt is brown because it’s unrefined and has a gritty texture. We use it to prevent the formation of winter hazards when forecasted conditions indicate this is necessary.


When salt is driven or walked over, this helps to dissolve the salt into a solution that lowers the freezing point of water. This is why treated motorways and other highways with high amounts of traffic will clear much more quickly than streets in residential areas where there is less traffic.

As salt becomes ineffective by -8c it is critical to treat a surface before winter hazards begin to form.


In Staffordshire we have a mixture of primary and extended treatment networks.

The primary network covers the main roads linking people to work, employment and health services for example. It is treated whenever there is a risk of winter hazards forming on the roads.

The extended treatment network will only be treated when prolonged freezing and/or snow conditions are expected. We don’t treat this network when extended periods of winter hazards are not expected.

All treatment networks can be viewed on our gritting route map.


We have 6,400km of roads in Staffordshire; it’s just not possible given the time and resources it would take. Our primary and extended networks make up 43% of our road network (1,700 miles), which is one of the largest treatment networks in the West Midlands.


The majority of precautionary salting around the county takes place via night shift operations. As the operatives on standby for night shift gritting are not available to undertake other usual highway maintenance tasks during the day such as pothole repairs and gully emptying, between October - April we have fewer crews during the day and therefore are not able to complete as many repairs to address road defects and other highway issues.

We receive daily weather forecasts from our forecast provider for the following 24-hour period at three stages through the day:

  • Early morning - an initial forecast of likely conditions across Staffordshire for the period 12pm - 12am for the following day.
  • At lunchtime - the main 24 hour forecast for the period 12pm - 12am giving an overview of worst case conditions within the nine climatic weather domains on which our treatment decisions are based.
  • Early evening - an updated forecast for the remainder of the 24 hour forecast period.

We have the opportunity 24 hours a day 7 days a week during winter to speak with forecast providers.

Road surface temperatures are the basis on which treatments are undertaken. There is always the risk that salt may be washed off within a short period of time after being deposited but that should not preclude the treatment for forecasted winter hazards.

It is certainly not the case we wish to waste salt and it is only used to treat the network when conditions dictate we should do so.


We rely on traffic to help dissolve salt into a solution which in turn lowers the freezing point of water.  This is why treated motorways and other routes with high amounts of traffic will clear much more quickly than routes where there is less traffic. 


There are currently nearly 3,000 salt bins/piles located on the highway network, enabling communities to treat those roads where skidding vehicles could create a safety risk during times of severe weather.


All bins / piles provided by the county council will be fully stocked at the start of winter; and the majority of these grit bins / salt piles will be replenished as part of a routine programme throughout the season - depending on weather conditions and resource availability.

It is not possible to restock the bins on demand.

The bins at a number of lower-risk sites will only be filled at the beginning of the season. However, when using salt to treat the road, only small amounts are required and if spread sparingly and only during prolonged periods of adverse weather, the contents of the bin should last a typical winter.

A little amount goes a long way but its effectiveness is greatly increased on more frequently trafficked roads which aids the de-icing properties of the salt.


New requests will only be considered at the end of the current winter season (from April the following year). Each request needs to be properly assessed against a set of criteria such as severe bends, steep gradients and other factors.

You can request a grit bin online via Report It.

We have access to a fleet of around 40 gritters and snowploughs and we also utilise specialist contractors as conditions dictate.
We have approximately 20,000 tonnes which is replenished throughout the winter season.
You can view which roads are gritted on our interactive gritting route map.

You are unable to challenge the outcome of a grit bin application. All applications are risk assessed on set criteria.

You can request a grit bin at another location online via Report It.


The equivalent of a bag of sugar’s worth of salt should cover 25m² of highway. When salt is driven/walked over this creates a solution that lowers the freezing point of water. 

If you are unsure about whether you should remove snow and ice from road surfaces yourself, please read the Government guidelines.

Salt provided for grit bins is not for private footpaths and drives.

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