Grit Bins: Everything You Need To Know

October 18, 2023

A frightening statistic shows that over 135,000 people are injured each year from the relentless weather we can receive during the winter months.

That’s because ice on roads and pavements can be a leading cause of serious outdoor accidents. 

And winter is coming. Or perhaps it’s already arrived as you’re reading this. 

As we’ll come to learn, grit bins are our saving grace.  

This article will give you everything you need to know about grit bins. From using, purchasing and understanding their importance, you’ll finish this guide fully prepared to get the most out of these accident-saving bins.

What is a grit bin?

Grit bins are storage units for grit. The units themselves can come in various materials, like plastic or fibreglass, and are mostly found in areas that are impacted by the cold winter months. They play an important role in preventing road and pedestrian accidents caused by snow and ice.

What is the purpose of a grit bin?

Grit bins are purpose-built to store grit, helping to withstand the outdoor elements. The grit inside is sprinkled on snow and ice to help melt it away, preventing road accidents and falls. 

How to use a grit bin

1. Find a grit bin

Locating a grit bin can be easy if you know where to look. They’re often placed strategically, along main roads, car parks and steep roads/pavements. Ask yourself, if an area was to be covered in ice, where would you place a grit bin? Your intuition is mostly right in this context!  

2. Have the right tools

Wear gloves to protect your hands and bring a shovel to pick up the grit from the bin. Wear suitable footwear with solid grip to prevent any accidental slips  

3. Access the grit bin

Checking how much grit is available will help you plan where and how much grit to use. Most grit bins have hinged lids using a hasp and staple, others may have fully removable lids. Either way, access should be simple and feel secure.  

4. Collect the grit

You’ll need a scoop or shovel to do this. Some grit bins even come equipped with a built-in scoop, so you don’t have to bring your own. It’s always worth bringing something with you just in case, though.  

5. Spread the grit

With your shovel or scoop, carefully spread grit in icy areas. Be careful not to overdo it – try and spread a thin layer for better traction. Spreading too much of it can be counterproductive! Before you know it, you’ve run out of grit. 

6. Lock up the bin

Once you’ve finished, make sure you properly and securely close the grit bin. If the lid isn’t properly closed, it could potentially swing open, and harsh weather could ruin the grit and prevent it from being effective with its next use.

How does grit work?

Grit melts ice to provide more traction that make roads and pavements safer to access. The process involves lowering the temperature below ice freezing point. This stops more ice from forming and melts the existing ice away over time.

Grit can also break up ice into small pieces, making it easier to remove.

Who grits the roads?

  • Highway agencies
  • Councils
  • Residents

Can anyone use council grit bins?

The rule of thumb is that, if there are grit bins in your area, you can use them to help grit the roads and pavements. But you shouldn’t be using it for your own personal use (i.e., your driveway, collecting and selling).

For personal use, it’s best practice to purchase your own grit bin and leave public grit bins for communal use.

Who fills grit bins?

In your local area, is it predominantly the council who are responsible for ensuring grit bins have a sufficient amount of grit ahead of the winter months. But you can also report empty grit bins yourself or purchase your own grit. Where heavy snowfall is forecasted to last over several days, councils will continuously refill the grit during this time, weather dependent.

When should you grit the roads?

A common question is whether it’s worth spreading grit before any predicted snowfall, or while it’s happening. 

Reiterating advice from Grounds Care Group, gritting ideally needs to happen before rainfall and snowfall, and especially before the temperature plummets. These three things usually go hand-in-hand in the winter months.

To prevent ice build up, gritters are sent out a few hours before any predicted snowfall or rainfall in freezing temperatures.

What are grit bins made from?

You can get grit bins in a variety of different materials. But many grit bins you may see are made from heavy-duty plastic.

A popular type of plastic used for grit bins is polythene. Here are the primary benefits:

  • Lightweight for easy maneuverability 
  • Excellent durability against bad weather
  • Ecological (can be recycled when it’s beyond repair)
  • High density to remain protected against abrasions or impact-related damages

Alternatively, you can purchase fibreglass or glass-reinforced plastic grit bins that have their own benefits.

Benefits of fibreglass grit bins

  • Extremely durable – many fibreglass bins can last over 20 years without damage
  • Excellent thermal stability
  • Chemical resistant
Wybone SFG11 Open Front Grit Bin

Wybone fibreglass grit bin

Benefits of glass-reinforced plastic grit bins

  • Lightweight for easy maneuverability
  • Excellent durability
  • UV stabilised to avoid discolouration
  • Easy to clean

Where should grit bins go?

Grit bins should be placed in an accessible area where ice and snowfall can affect road vehicles and pedestrians. This includes main, busy roads, car parks and steep roads/pavements.

When should I buy a grit bin?

Knowing when to buy a grit bin can be just as important as getting the right one. Here, you have two options that will give you the upper hand:

  • Purchase in summer
  • Purchase on the build-up to winter

Purchasing in summer means you’re giving yourself plenty of time to ensure you’ve got the right grit bin to do the job. It’s always good to be organised!

Purchasing close to winter could mean potential discounts. Businesses know that as the weather gets colder, grit bins are on the minds of local authorities. Running discounts is that extra push to get them where they need to be.

What size grit bin do I need?

The size of your grit bin will depend on the area you’re wanting to cover. For main roads and large car parks, for example, you’ll want a sizable unit that can hold a generous amount of grit. At Wybone, we manufacture a 400-litre plastic grit bin and a 1008-litre glass-reinforced grit bin.

For small business car parks and housing estates, a smaller grit bin may be appropriate. We manufacture a 200-litre plastic grit bin and a 168-litre glass-reinforced grit bin.

Wybone plastic grit bin 

Overall, grit bins can get us out of some icy situations

Here at Wybone, we’ve made a difference with our grit bins. Freezing weather isn’t to be taken lightly, and stories we’ve previously told show how we’ve provided a remedy for inevitable harsh winters. 

Scotland, so high up in the North, can be greatly affected by heavy snowfall. It’s not uncommon to see temperatures plummet to -8 degrees! In 2018, we helped South Lanarkshire Council gear up for future winters after suffering a grueling start to the year.

So they were well prepared, South Lanarkshire Council ordered 690 of our fibreglass grit bins and 10,000 tonnes of grit. It was a huge project, and you can read the full story here.

Wybone Large capacity grit & salt bin

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