What’s the Best Ice Melt for Concrete? An important question to ask yourself because the majority of ice melt products are ruining your concrete.
If you’re getting pock marks on your concrete driveway, you’re probably using an ice melt that’s not safe for concrete. There are several ice melt products that are safe for concrete — the most popular (and most effective) being Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, and Calcium Magnesium Acetate.
If you’ve been using rock salt or potassium chloride, this is probably why your concrete driveway is showing signs of deterioration. These products are corrosive and therefore not safe for concrete. We’ve researched ice melt products, paying particular attention to their effects on concrete, as well as plants, animals, and people.
Let me interrupt this article to show you how beautiful salt can be…
Beauty of Rock Salt | Photos
Most road crews use rock salt (halite / sodium chloride) to melt ice on public roads. This is because it is the cheapest solution. Potassium chloride is seen as an environmentally safe alternative to rock salt, but his too is corrosive, making it unsafe for concrete. Homeowners may be better off considering alternative ice melt products, especially for concrete surfaces.
We also need to consider the safety of our family, pets, and the plants in our garden. It goes without saying that ice melt that is safe for concrete, plants, and animals, will also be the most eco-friendly products.
Other considerations may speed, there are ice melt products that act faster at removing ice. Some are better at preventing ice from forming, while others may be more effective in colder climates. Ice melt tends to leave a slurry that is slippery and not safe for pedestrians. So you may also want a product that does not leave a brine. It’s not just a simple matter of deciding which ice melt is safe for concrete. We need to factor in all our needs circumstances.
I’m going share my findings with you. I’ll give a detailed description of ice melt products deemed safe for concrete and discuss their other attributes. How do these deicers work? Generally, ice melt is a hygroscopic chemical compound. This means that these chemicals absorb moisture and then dissolve, raising the temperature and causing the ice to melt. After discussing safe deicers for concrete, I’ll give a more detailed analysis on how various types of ice melt chemicals work.
Ice Melt Safe for Concrete
Green Gobbler : 96% Calcium Chloride
Features : Green Gobbler Ice Melt
- Melts snow and ice 4x faster than rock salt
- Generates exothermic heat to melt thick snow and ice
- Works in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit
- Lowers the re-freezing temperature of melted ice
- Leaves no leftover residue and does not track
- Controls the freeze-thaw cycle (preventing concrete spalling)
Should you buy Calcium Chloride?
While opinions are not always the same, most experts agree that calcium chloride is the best product for those seeking an ice melt that is safe for concrete. This is a hygroscopic compound. So it absorbs water and then generates heat as it dissolves, up to 140°F. Typically, a pound of calcium chloride will heat a gallon of water by about 30°F or more.
Due it’s exceptional exothermic properties, calcium chloride is the most effective concrete-safe deicer for colder climates. Capable of melting ice when the ambient temperature is as low as -25°F, calcium chloride is the best solution in extreme weather conditions.
Calcium chloride is fast-acting, forming a brine quicker than most similar ice melts. This means quicker deicing. It is considered one of the more environmentally safe ice melt products. Though not the best in this regard.
Whilst easily the best ice melt safe for concrete, calcium chloride is one the more expensive options. You can expect top price in the region of $18 for a 50-pound bag of calcium chloride ice melt, depending on the brand.
Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt / Safe for Concrete
If you have a dog, cat, or kids, then you’ll want a pet safe ice melt.
- Low risk of concrete corrosion
- Melts snow and ice in frigid temperatures (as low as -10°f). Generates exothermic heat over a short period of time. Melts twice as much ice as rock salt in 21°f!
- Magnesium chloride formula harvested from the dead sea. Less toxic than calcium, potassium or sodium chloride.
- Safer for pets and the environment. Highly unlikely to burn or irritate the skin or pets paws. Pet safe won’t harm plants or cause spalling on driveways and concrete that’s been properly set and cured.
- Can be used in various ice melt spreaders.
- 30 day hassle free money back guarantee
Is Magnesium Chloride right for you?
Magnesium chloride works in a similar way to calcium chloride, it is a hygroscopic compound forming a brine solution which heats the ice. However, magnesium chloride is slower and is not as effective in colder weather.
Magnesium chloride is works well in temperatures as low as -5°F and is safe for concrete. The only real benefit to using magnesium chloride over calcium chloride, is that magnesium chloride is safer for vegetation. It is widely considered one of the more environmentally sound deicers.
Since magnesium chloride is one of the most expensive ice melt products, and is not as effective as calcium chloride, it can become costly. You’ll be paying for the product and will usually need to use more of it. However, if vegetation is your main concern, this would be the safer option.
VIDEO | How Ice Melt is Ruining City Roads
Calcium Magnesium Acetate
Seen as the safest for animals, plants, and people, Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) is also safe for concrete. It is mostly made up of acetic acid, and closely resembles vinegar. This makes it an all-natural product, with the lowest environmental impact.
Unlike hygroscopic compounds, CMA does not form a brine. It functions by preventing ice particles for bonding and is one of the best at preventing re-freezing. It does, however, leave a slushy residue.
CMA is the safest ice melt, in general, though it is not as effective as other concrete-friendly deicers. It is rated for temperatures down to -7°F and is reasonably fast-acting.
Read Report — from Utah Department of Transportation, Research Division : Physical And Chemical Effects Of Deicers On Concrete Pavement : Literature Review
The researchers conclude :
“… Regardless of variations in testing methods and specimen characteristics, the results from nine of the ten studies summarized in this research indicate that specimens exposed to sodium chloride experienced only minor, if any, adverse effects, while specimens exposed to calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, or CMA experienced significant deterioration, including scaling, cracking, mass loss, and compressive strength loss.
The researchers found that the deterioration suffered by specimens exposed to calcium chloride was caused by the formation of calcium oxychloride and complex salts, while specimens exposed to magnesium chloride and CMA deteriorated because of M-S-H and brucite formation.
How Does Ice Melt work?
Most deicers are hygroscopic compounds. Generally this is some form of salt that absorbs moisture. As the water in the ice or snow is absorbed, a brine is formed, and the chemical reaction produces heat. The heat, in turn, melts the ice to form a slush that is easily removed. The most common hygroscopic ice melt products are rock salt, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride.
Products like calcium magnesium chloride, prevent ice particles from sticking to one another. In doing so, they stop snow from form forming ice sheets.
It’s important to note that ice melt products need to dissolve in order to be effective. Applying most deicers directly to an ice surface won’t work too well. It’s best to apply an ice melt before the ice forms. Alternatively, dissolving the deicer in some water before applying it will help start the exothermic hygroscopic reaction. In other words, mixing your ice melt with water will cause it to start heating up and help the process along.