MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the most vital elements to fighting a snowstorm, salt, is in a bit of a short supply in Minnesota.

On a Minnesota winter day, there’s only one condiment that comes to mind. O.J. Rinehart, founder of Northern Salt in St. Paul, showed WCCO his mounds of pink salt.

“This salt is almost like table salt, it looks so pure. It’s very pure. If you put that in a bag you could almost sell it as a food grade salt,” Rinehart said.

But this salt is less about taste and more about texture.

“Snow control, we’ll be applying salt to the UPS in Eagan,” salt distribution driver Benjamin Mike said. “We are looking to control how much ice and snow they have on the ground to make sure these trucks can keep running.”

He’s one of many drivers running loads out of Northern Salt in St. Paul. But salt is scarce this season, as there was very little carryover supply from last year’s snow-heavy season.

“We try to give as much salt to our clients as we possibly can. So we are delivering. (We’ve) got a lot of trucks ready to make sure they are prepped and ready for the storms,” Rinehart said. “Inventory in the state is low because there was river flooding, there’s been some mining issues with some mines not able to meet productivity levels that are required.”

Northern Salt uses a unique kind of organic pink salt, derived from Canada right to their railyard. It’s used by MnDOT and private companies, and this is the busy season for this team on a mission.

“We are doing something that’s giving back to the city and pretty much everybody else to stay safe,” Northern Salt worker Calvin Murray said.

Rinehart says their supply is expected to endure through this winter.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield