Never in recent Boise history has calcium chloride been so beloved — and so out of reach.
Ice-melting products have flown off the shelves of Treasure Valley hardware stores and supermarkets, leaving little, if any, to find.
The Albertsons store at State and 16th street in Boise was out of everything but a pet-safe ice melt by Tuesday, and even those small plastic jugs were going fast.
Home Depot stores in Boise were sold out, hoping for a delivery later this week. WinCo Foods also was hoping for a shipment to resupply its five Treasure Valley stores.
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So far this winter, WinCo has sold 7,667 bags of ice melt at its Treasure Valley stores. During the same time period last year it had sold 1,755 bags, a spokesman said.
It’s not just residents in a bind. The stores themselves are desperate to keep their parking lots and walkways safe.
“You’re going through so much more ice melt, and everybody is out of ice melt,” said Matt Fuxan, manager of the Boise Co-op in the North End.
Ross Parton, Zamzows marketing director, said the problem is about simple supply and demand.
“Right now, if you look nationwide, 70 to 80 percent of the nation is sitting in the snow,” he said. “The demand is overwhelming right now.”
Zamzows carries a grade of ice melt that is pet and lawn friendly and harder to come by than more common varieties.
“They are producing it as quickly as they can,” Parton said. “We are limited to the number of bags we can order. … We are not going to get as much as we want, and neither is anyone else.”
All 11 Zamzow stores were completely out of ice melt Tuesday, according to Parton. A shipment is expected within the next couple of weeks.
Holidays and snowstorms
The Ada County Highway District is having trouble replenishing its nearly depleted supply of road salt.
“We are running really low on salt, with 15 percent of our supply left in the Adams (Street) yard and 5 percent in our Cloverdale (Road) yard, which covers the west side of the county,” said spokesman Craig Quintana.
While drivers are having a hard time getting around the Treasure Valley, salt-laden delivery trucks are having a hard time getting to the Valley with their high-demand cargo.
“We have 21 loads on order but deliveries are out of Salt Lake and impacted by the highway conditions,” Quintana said. “I’m told the supplier shut down for the holidays, so the timing of the storm eroded our on-hand supply.”
ACHD has plenty of magnesium chloride, a liquid de-icer, on hand, but it does not work well in wet conditions, which is what we have now.
“It may get used later in the week,” Quintana said.
The Idaho Transportation Department has been receiving deliveries of salt and supplies, spokeswoman Jennifer Gonzalez said. ITD said it has applied 19,357 tons of salt, 8,801 tons of salt/sand blend and 547,001 gallons of magnesium chloride so far this winter to Southwest Idaho highways.