By Erik Hildreth, Registered Applicator, Professional Grounds, Inc.
Do you know what is in that ice melt product you’re putting down? Most residents are not aware of properties in the active ingredients which leaves them wondering which ice melts to use. When it comes to products for ice melts there are five main options available to general consumers; sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride and acetates. It is common to find ice melts in three way blends that can be additionally effective and combinations of these products are all popular and commonly available. Before you purchase your next ice melting product, take a look at our list below to help you decide which product might work best for you and be the friendliest for your car’s finish and your furry little friends.
Sodium Chloride (NaCl), commonly known as rock salt, is the least expensive form of ice melting agent and it is used in both residential and commercial settings more than any other product. Sodium Chloride is effective down to only about 20 degrees so this is not the ideal ice-melt product for use in very cold climates. A few of the other downfalls of rock salt are the moderate damage they can cause to concrete and other surfaces like your car’s paint and it is not a ‘pet friendly’ option for ice melt.
Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2) is often used in residential settings because it is fairly pet safe and can be used on most any surface without causing significant damage. This ice melt product can also perform well in most any cold conditions. If you are in need of an ice melt to apply to concrete surfaces and you have pet safety to keep in mind, then this is a great option for you.
Potassium Chloride (KCl) is probably the most environmentally friendly of all ice melt products. The downfall? Its is also the least effective of the options. When temperatures drop below 25 degrees Potassium Chloride loses all effectiveness. The cost of KCl is also a factor in that it is fairly expensive when compared to other products.
Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) is widely used because it is effective down to -25 degrees. Like Magnesium Chloride, it can be a little rough on some surfaces but applied lightly it is safe to use with little damage. This option is also the fastest acting of the bunch so if you are trying to remedy a tough ice situation then this is the product for you. Calcium Chloride is one of the pricier options available so it pays to shop around to compare deals.
Urea/Carbonyl Diamide is found to be the least damaging to surfaces and are safer for pets and the environment. They can also be expensive but in some cases an anti-corrosive product is required due to local restrictions but in a common residential or commercial setting, acetates are typically not found to be worth the added cost.
This cold season, have peace of mind when purchasing ice melt products by knowing the active ingredients, their limitations and safety recommendations before you purchase them. Your wallet, dog, car, sidewalks, etc. will thank you.