De-icing Materials – Which Is The Best?

 In Landscaping and Hardscaping

If you live in an area that receives snow during the winter months, you already know the importance of keeping ice melting materials on hand. To ensure safe travelling conditions and to prevent slips and falls, it is crucial to make use of the many different materials that can be used for melting the snow and ice.

There are many different materials that can be used to reduce the risk of accidents during snow falls. Some are better than others; some are pretty much exactly the same – the determining factor as to which material you use is where you are using it.

Inorganic salts are compounds that contain chloride. These are the most common types of de-icing material because they are relatively inexpensive and readily available. Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, and Calcium Chloride are all part of this family of compound deicers. Sodium Chloride is by far the most used option. If you need to protect new concrete walks or driveways, Calcium Chloride is your best bet. The only downside to using large amounts of these materials is that they can cause damage to vegetation, but for the most part Mother Nature will wash these salts away with the rain.

Organic salts are biodegradable compounds and are the safest option for the environment. Sodium Acetate, Potassium Acetate, and Calcium Magnesium Acetate are all good options if you are looking for something a little more ‘green.’ The downside to using these is the cost – they are definitely not as budget friendly as the inorganic salts.

There are some materials that should only be used if incredibly necessary. Non-Salt deicers will not corrode metals, but they have a very negative impact on the environment. These types of deicers are typically used in airports because of their non-corrosive properties. Heed caution when using these products – Urea, Glycol, and select Fertilizers. It may be best to just let the airports and the professionals use these. These products are not recommended.

There are also non-ice melting materials that are used mainly to improve traction. These materials are often combined with an inorganic deicing compound such as Sodium Chloride. Sand, Cinders, and Calcinated Clay are all materials that can provide extra traction. The downside to using these is that they leave behind quite a mess once all of the snow and ice has melted.

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