How to pick the right Ice Melters

We got our first ice storm since I started this blog, so it’s time for this one.

First, if you want the whole story I recommend the Peters Chemical website – I pulled a great write up down from there.
They list 10 different active ingredients for their various purpose ice melters, as do several of the other manufacturers’ web sites. hence they make money no matter what you chose and have no axe to grind re the different formulations.
Morton salt, on the other hand recommends sodium chloride (for obvious reasons).
Most commonly used are sodium chloride (table salt, rock salt, water softener salt, kosher sea salt, etc), calcium chloride and magnesium chloride.
Regular salt has two advantages:
1) It’s cheap. (Well – it’s cheap on a per pound basis)
2) If you forgot to buy ice melter it’s on your table, in your water softener salt bag, etc.
It has two disadvantages –
1) It’s expensive – if you are salting a large area some of the other formulations will actually do a better job with less salt – on a per square foot basis or as used basis – then sodium chloride. They are so much more effective that the higher per pound cost is more than offset by the higher productivity.
2) Kills your grass. Some of the other formulations don’t.
The local TV station put their gardening guy on the other nite and recommended that you buy magnesium chloride formulations for this reason. Who am I to disagree ?
Not that it matters much but I learned researching this that ice melters don’t so much melt ice as they undercut it.
What happens is they melt a small amount of the ice. The melt (salt brine) then spreads out underneath the rest of the ice and melts the layer adjacent to the pavement or sidewalk underneath the ice. It then becomes easy to scrape the ice, now detached from the pavement off to the side.
Cool huh ?
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