While you may still be enjoying the mild, sunny days of autumn, snowy winter weather is just around the corner. With winter comes ice, which can create dangerous conditions on any concrete surfaces, including your walking paths and driveway. That is why many people chose to use sodium chloride, commonly called rock salt, to melt the ice around their home and keep walkways safe. Many people don’t realize, however, that sodium chloride can cause damage to your concrete, and can even pose a threat to your pets.
What Makes Sodium Chloride a Bad Choice?
Ice melting products are an important and easy safety measure anyone can undertake during snowy weather. While sodium chloride does this job with reasonable effectiveness, it comes with downsides. Its irregular crystal shape and size means it takes quite some time to effectively melt ice. It also stops working when temperatures dip below 10 degrees Fahrenheit and do little to prevent melted ice from refreezing. This not only poses a slipping hazard but can also cause spalling on concrete surfaces. Sodium chloride also poses a danger to pets, as it can cause irritation if it comes into contact with their paws. If pets ingest sodium chloride by licking their contaminated paws, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. And if a pet manages to consume a large quantity, which can easily happen if they drink ice melt, it can even lead to death.
Safer, More Effective Alternatives
There are two ice melt alternatives to sodium chloride that are not only safer to use but are also more effective at melting ice. One option is calcium chloride, a colorless, odorless compound that works to melt ice quickly by creating an exothermic reaction. It works in even lower temperatures than sodium chloride, as it is effective down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Calcium chloride also works to lower the refreezing temperature of melted ice. This means that it will not cause damaging spalling to any of your concrete surfaces. In addition, calcium chloride does not leave a leftover residue, and will not track into your vehicle or home.
Another option is magnesium chloride, which also works by creating an exothermic reaction. It does not, however, work in as cold of temperatures as calcium chloride, and instead only works on temperatures down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. But unlike other ice melt products, magnesium chloride has a much lower toxicity level and does not pose a danger for animals. It also will not cause spalling to concrete surfaces that are properly set and cured.
Which is Right for You?
We offer both sodium chloride and magnesium chloride ice melt products, which work in similar ways to help remove ice. Both products are pelletized and have a perfectly round shape which helps them to melt ice more quickly than sodium chloride’s jagged granules do. Sodium chloride’s lower temperature of effectiveness makes it a better choice for users that live in areas that experience extreme cold. If, however, you are concerned about the potential toxicity of ice melts for your pets, magnesium chloride is a better choice. Not only does it not pose an irritation risk to your pet’s paws, but it poses less of a health risk if accidentally ingested in small amounts.
Both sodium chloride and magnesium chloride are great choices for melting ice in any setting. With winter fast approaching, now is a great time to stock up so that you are prepared for winter’s first snowfall.