...and is there a big difference between the two? Or is it like choosing your favorite soda from the grocery aisle?
Rock salt (brine) and ice melt (calcium chloride) have more in common than anything else. They're both salt-based products that will work under normal winter conditions. But if you want to choose what's best for your situation, here’s what you need to know about rock salt and ice melt.
Does it get lower than 5°F in your area? If not, then you’re good with 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 gradually, and you’ll experience better traction if the temperature doesn’t drop any lower.
Did the temperature dip below 5°F? You’ll need something more powerful than regular rock salt to melt 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, it goes the extra step by generating heat. It goes to work instantly so you can get your day back on track in minutes.
Sure, rock salt runs a little cheaper than ice melt, but don’t let the price be a deal-breaker. 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.
Hmm, let's go down the list. Ice melt 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. But still proceed with caution. For the best results, follow these tips:
- 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. Calcium chloride is safe on plants and concrete, but scoop up any leftover salt just in case.
- Store 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 their paws (and your paws, too). Ice melt is generally safer for pets than rock salt, but a little extra caution wouldn't hurt. When you head back inside, wipe off your shoes and take a towel to your pet’s paws.