Indoor Arena Dust Control - Salt Brine, Rock Salt, Magnesium Chloride
Hoping someone can help me. I am watering my indoor 80 x 200 daily to keep the dust down. It is not THAT dusty, but I hate dust! Clay base, rubber x sand - must have some sort of organic component, but not sure what.
I am looking into Salt Brine (where the heck do you get it and does anyone use it?), plain Rock Salt (do you water after you salt?), & Magnesium Chloride Flakes. I talked to the MAG guy today and he is recommending 4-5 pallets to stabilize the footing - no watering ever....
Also, just stumbled on Liquid Magnesium Chloride - any thoughts?
Would like to find an affordable option!
Last edited by Jumper Breeder; Oct. 30, 2010 at 02:35 PM.
You might also consider calcium chloride which will absorb
water out of the air (when there is enough water in the air). You can get it as either pellets or as liquid. The folks
who install tractor tires will have the liquid; it is used inside
tractor tires to add weight. The county or township where
you live may be able to direct you to a source of pelleted
calcium chloride; it is sometimes used on roads to melt ice.
We add a half ton of ordinary feed salt (cheapest salt we
can find) to our footing each autumn so that when we do
water the footing, it won't freeze. Sodium chloride does
not eliminate the need to water, it just keeps the footing
from freezing when watered.
I don't know what my BO has applied, but it is a (salt-type) liquid and I think is what they also spray on gravel roads to cut down on dust.
They saturated the (new) sand arena with it last October. We didn't have to start watering again for any dust control until a month ago. Crazy! It must suck moisture from the air is the only thing I can think off. But no watering was SO nice.
The only negative is that her base in the indoor is the natural clay and when you saturate that it is slippery. I had to stop cantering or doing any extended work for a good month after the application. I don't think that would be an issue if you had a stone/rock base, however.
You want to be careful to make sure you know the quality and chemistry of anything you add to your footing for dust abatement and the potential to bring new problems to your horses by using the wrong thing. There is a lot of a snake oil and fu-fu dust out there that claims great benefits but is really a waste or by-product of oil drilling (natural brines) that can be very high in some fairly toxic contaminants; everything from toxic metals and petroleum compounds to radon gas.
Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, in pure form, are hygroscopic meaning they attract water. When exposed to the atmosphere, they will draw atmospheric moisture from the air and hold it. These products are used extensively in dust and stabilization of gravel roads, ball fields, and construction sites however that does not automatically mean that they are safe for barefoot animals.
Some of these have high pH and high levels of toxic contaminants which can be problematic for leg and hoof health. There are many companies claiming to offer generic calcium chloride or magnesium chloride, however only one or two actually have the right quality and chemistry that is safe for use in footings. At least one of them offers a money-back guarantee.
The type of footing you have has a huge effect on the level of dust you will experience. Footing with higher levels of organic material (shavings - sawdust - manure - hay-dust - loam - topsoil/dirt) typically are exponentially more difficult to control dust than footings that are all mineral or mineral and synthetic fibers (felt) or rubber. The organic materials will absorb (into the body) the additives and suck them up like a sponge robbing them from reaching fugitive dust. The mineral materials readily adsorb (onto the surface) these treatments and effectively hold the dust down with far less material. It will generally take exponentially more dust control "stuff" to lock up a high organic matter arena than it will an all mineral or mineral/solid footing material...maybe order of magnitude 3-5 times as much!
The materials promoted for arena dust control vary; water; mineral oils; calcium chloride; magnesium chloride; polymers; etc. The ones that are known to be safe and can prove it are few.
The first step to effective permanent dust control in your indoor arena footing is to know exactly what the composition of your footing is. An easy trick to try to determine if the dust is organic or mineral is to collect dust from the rails and horizontal surfaces and then put it in a pan and heat it up on a gas or charcoal grille. If it burns; it's not mineral because sand doesn't melt until it is hotter than 2000 degrees, but most organic materials we find in nature and in barns will ignite and burn off under 600 degrees. Also, if the dust collected on the top of the rails and horizontal surfaces is dark brown when wet, that too indicates its unlikely sand or silica dust.
I am a stable owner and I also happen to have been employed in commercial dust abatement for over 30 years and have seen just about every compound out there claiming to offer dust control. While all of them generally work, when dealing with horses' health not everything that is safe for the roads is safe for horses.
Caveat emptor when evaluating dust abatement options for your indoor. Do your homework and invest only in proven systems and materials that have a long list of equine footing successes and references using the products for years to back up their claims.
Here in SE PA a lot of people use the mag chloride flakes. In order for it to work well, you have to have a certain amount of humidity as it pulls the humidity out of the air and "binds" it to the footing.
If you are going to go with the mag, I would suggest being conservative for your initial application. You can always add more, you can't really remove it. I have seen what happens when it is over applied. The footing turned into a slick, gross mess.
It is much easier to spread on a low humidity day. I have tried using a push spreader (like for lawn fertilizing) but it was really difficult to push through the sand and the mag starts getting "wet" as soon as you open the bag which gummed up the spinner on the thrower. I now just spread it by hand and its actually faster to do it this way then to fight with a spreader. One year I used the salt thrower on my husband's truck but our indoor is small and the truck is an older Ford with a crappy turning radius so it was difficult to get an even application.
I just read the previous reply about foot health. We have been using mag for years and have never had any problems with skin or foot health because of it. After an application, I ask that everyone make sure to hose their horse's legs after riding for a few days just to be super cautious but I know that a lot of people don't bother. The mag we use is MAG www.meltsnow.com.
I used MAG as skyy did. I too tried the fertilizer spreader which didn't work well. Ended up putting a bag in the wheelbarrow, slicing the bag open and using a plastic feed scoop to "fling and spread." Did this for years and had superb footing, no foot or leg problems, no damage to my arena and the barn cats weren't harmed either. Loved the stuff.
Lucky you that have humidity. In Colorado and the dry West, the MagCl also works well, but you still have to water - watering just lasts a whole lot longer with the MagCl in, and doesn't freeze. MgCl also works well if you have significant felt in your footing, as that must be kept very damp to not separate from the sand.
There are companies (construction dust abatement), like English Stables mentioned, that will come and spray liquid MgCl in your arena, but the one local to me only does that during non-freezing months. This company will also spray a MgCl-Lignen mix that works well if you have fine clay dust in your arena, but the trade off is a bit of stickiness for awhile when new. Some of these companies with equestrian client experience understand what is safe for an indoor arena, and some may not.