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A grit bin or salt bin is an item of street furniture, commonly found in countries where freezing temperatures and snowfall occur, which holds a mixture of salt and grit which is spread over roads if they have snow or ice on them. A grit bin improves winter road safety on roads which are not gritted by other means, such as from a winter service vehicle.
How it works
Anyone may use a grit bin to clear a public path or road, though they are generally not intended for personal use. Typically, a spade or shovel is used to spread a thin layer of grit onto the road surface, covering any snow or ice. The salt lowers the melting point of the snow causing it to melt (see sodium chloride). The grit component improves the friction between a vehicle's tires and the road.
Some grit bins have a small compartment, which could be used for storing a spade or shovel. The one featured in the photograph at the top of the page is filled through the top hatch.
Construction of grit bins
Grit bins were originally made of concrete, wood or even stone, though these are now increasingly being replaced by models constructed from plastic partly from safety concerns: vehicles/people hitting a plastic grit bin will suffer less damage. However, the lower weight of plastic makes grit bins easier to steal or tip over.
Grit bins can be subjected to vandalism, such as arson. The lid can also be left open, leaving rain to wash away the salt in the mixture, rendering it useless. In the United Kingdom, the local county council is usually responsible for maintaining and refilling grit bins.
Members of the public can inform their local council if a grit bin needs refilling, has been damaged or tipped over, or if there are no bins on a road that is not gritted by any other method.
In Norway, the problem with tipping grit bins over have been solved by making them large enough to hold about 500 kg of grit, and to continually keep it topped up.
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