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What is the “right” ice melt product for you?

ew_spreader_2-300x158Winter has finally arrived in Central Indiana, bringing with it frigid temperatures, snow, and ice.  With the first appearance of winter weather, we make the annual trek to the hardware store to buy snow shovels, snow blowers, and ice melt.  When choosing an ice melt product, there are many different options, but which one is the best for your situation?  There are 3 different things to consider when purchasing an ice melt product.

First, you want to know exactly what type of surface you are putting the product onto.  For example, chloride based products are often used on hard surfaces, like asphalt and concrete.  However, these products are not recommended for use on wooden surfaces, like walkways and decks.  Second, you must be aware of potential side effects of applying ice melt.  Will the ice melt runoff lead into streams or other type of waterway?  What is the potential foot traffic in the area you will be applying the ice melt and will that foot traffic be tracking the ice melt into your home or business?  Last, it is also important to consider the different prices for each type of ice melt.  The price will vary depending on the type of ice melt.  In order to make the best decision when buying ice melt, we should discuss some of the most popular types of ice melt available.

Sodium Chloride – This type of ice melt, also known as rock salt, is one of the most abundant chemicals found on earth.  Because it is so readily available, the price is cheap and it is, without a doubt, the most popular ice melt product on the market.  This product will work all the way down to 16 degrees, but really does best in the mid-20’s.  Use caution when applying this product, however, as it can be easily tracked indoors and can cause stains.

Magnesium Chloride – This product, while more expensive than rock salt, also is more affective at melting ice.  This product will work down to -13 degrees and is very popular because of it low environmental impact.  This ice melt variety is pet safe and safe for most types of vegetation.  This type of ice melt comes in pellet, flake, and liquid solutions and is sought the world over because of its balance between high performance and low environmental impact.

Calcium Chloride – The most expensive of the chloride based products, calcium chloride, is also the best in terms of performance at low temperatures.  This product will work at -25 degrees!  This products ability to work at extremely low temperatures, however, comes with a cost.  It is far and away the most toxic of all the chloride based deicers.  While this product does a wonderful job, it is very harsh and unforgiving on all types of surfaces.

Acetates – The most expensive type of ice melt, acetates work differently than chloride based products.  Because they work with organic compounds to naturally break down the ice, they are much better for the environment.  The main ingredients found in acetates are in short supply, which drives the cost up considerably.

So, now that you know the different types of ice melt products, which one is the “best”.  The answer is, there is no right answer.  Like we discussed earlier, it is all about balance between intended use, environmental impact, and cost. Find out which variables are most important to you and buy accordingly

Contact us today if you have any questions about ice melt products.