As soon as you enter a department store searching for an ice-melting product, you’re likely to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of brands and options in front of you. As you look at the bags and see things “pure rock salt” and “pet-safe ice melt.” Your head is spinning from the sheer number of options that all really look the same, and you’re thinking back to 5th grade to check if you know the difference between sodium chloride to calcium chloride. (Hint: probably not.)
Is there much of a difference between rock salt and ice melt? Or is it like choosing your favorite soda from the grocery aisle?
No matter which one you choose, it’s going to work. So take a deep breath. But as you can probably guess, there is an item on the shelf that will work better for your situation than the other.
If you want to take care of the ice and snow on your property, here’s what you need to know about your options; then hopefully you can make the right decision when you make a purchase.
Rock salt works great in normal winter conditions. Does it get lower than 5°F in your area? If not, then you’re good at choosing rock salt. Rock salt is strictly sodium chloride with maybe a few minerals mixed in for good measure. Rock salt lowers the freezing point of the water and breaks the chemical bonds between the snow and the pavement. Snow and ice will melt away, and you’ll experience better traction, as the temperature doesn’t drop any lower.
Ice melt is best when it’s bitterly cold outside. Did the temperature drop below 5°F overnight? You’ll need something stronger to break down the snow and ice on your property. Ice melt is either calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride or a mix of all three. Not only does ice melt lower the freezing point of water, but it also goes the extra step by generating heat. It goes to work instantly so you can get your day back on track in minutes.
Rock salt isn’t always the safest option. Sure, rock salt runs a little cheaper than ice melt, but don’t let the price be a dealbreaker. Consider the pros and cons before you stock up on sodium chloride.
Here’s the deal: rock salt can be harmful to vegetation. So if you have a garden or a well-kept landscape, you might want to think twice before spreading rock salt around your property. Moreover, rock salt isn’t the best option if you have pets. If your beloved little pup decides to ingest some of the rock salt, it could cause gastrointestinal issues. Not to mention rock salt can get in-between the cracks of their paws and cause some irritation.
Ice melt… doesn’t really have a downside. Hmm, it goes to work immediately. It’s safer for pets than rock salt. It generates heat to melt ice and snow quickly. It works well with traditional spreader equipment. We can’t really think of too many downsides for ice melt. For the best results, follow these rules:
Don’t apply too much. Read the product label to figure out exactly what’s needed to melt the snow and ice on your property. After it’s done the job, scoop up any leftover salt to avoid any potential damage to your property.
Store ice melts away from children and pets. We suggest storing it up high in your garage or in another area of your home that you don’t visit often.
Wipe your paws (and their paws, too). Ice melt is generally safer for pets than rock salt, but it wouldn’t hurt to be careful around the pellets. Before you head back inside, wipe off your shoes and take a towel to your pet’s paws, just in case.