What’s Better? An Ice Melt Or Common Salt?
While looking forward to a winter wonderland, we often forget the long list of to-dos before the season starts. Yes, it’s time to prepare for icy, snowy weather. Keeping ourselves and our families safe is a challenge in winter. Getting rid of snow and ice on the driveway, parking lot, and sidewalk is one of the biggest winter woes.
The two most common options for clearing the snow are using common salt or ice melt. Choosing between ice melt and common salt is not easy. You need to consider various parameters like- where it has to be applied, the temperature at which it is most effective, the cost, and the consequences of using each.
In this article, we will compare ice melt and common salt on various parameters so that you can make a choice that suits you the best.
Ice Melt Safe For Concrete
1- What’s In It?
The difference between rock salt and ice melt lies in the mix. Rock salt is basically sodium chloride. Ice melt is generally a blend of sodium chloride and other minerals like magnesium and calcium. Then there are ice melts without salt that are non-toxic and non-corrosive. If you’re a pet owner, then you might be looking for a snow salt that is pet safe. These are usually composed of natural ingredients like urea, which is completely safe to use around pets and kids.
2- How Does It Work?
The rock salt lowers the freezing point of the water from 32 degrees to 25 degrees, thereby slowing down the formation of ice.
The chloride (and other minerals) based ice melt solutions work by lowering the temperature below 0 or even -25 degrees. On contact with ice/snow, it absorbs moisture forming a salty-solution (brine) that produces heat and melts the ice.
Urea-based ice melts are considered a safer option. The crystalline amide-based solution is one of the only ice melts that guarantees its safety around children and pets. The modified crystalline amide core is infused with a special glycol admixture and traction agent. On contact with snow, the outer layer attacks immediately while the crystal core penetrates slowly, to eliminate all snow and ice. They can melt at temperatures as low as -2 degrees.
3- Side Effects
It is common knowledge that rock salt and most of the ice melts damage your lawn, driveways, and pavements. What is not well known is that NOT ALL ice melts are unsafe for your concrete, plants, and pets.
The porous concrete on your driveway absorbs the salty mixture and when the temperature falls below 25 degrees, the water re-freezes and expands, putting additional hydraulic pressure on the concrete and thereby damaging the concrete.
Many salt-free ice melts are comprised of natural ingredients. They are 100% safe to use around pets and kids. They are also non-corrosive and non-conductive. Therefore, they are safe for your delicate machines, and you don’t need to worry about short-circuiting, etc. They won’t harm animals or children, and it won’t damage your property.
However, beware of brands that falsely claim themselves to be pet-safe.
Although rock salt is economical as compared to any ice melt, it has a price that you pay later. Using rock salt can be dangerous too. Not only can it corrode your car body, but it can also harm your pets, vegetation, and children.
Learn more about the best practices that should be followed while using common salt or an ice melt without salt.