The Pro's & Con's of De-Icing Materials

August 23, 2017

 

Is the preferred type of salt that you would like to see spread on your property the right choice for you?

 

There are a multitude of de-icing products on the market; with an increase in companies making an effort to "go green", are you sure you're getting the right product for your facilities needs? I will discuss what I have learned about the various types of ice melt products that I have seen throughout the snow and ice industry.

 

Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride): Your standard and most common de-icing product.  Comprised of sodium chloride, this is the most cost effective solution for your facilities budget needs and is almost always readily available.  There are however a few cons that come with this product.  Not only is it highly corrosive, leaving behind a white residue, it has a cut off point for its melting point.  Rock salt typically only works at temperatures 15 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; so, on those really cold, bone-chilling Chicago winter days, this just might not cut it in terms of melting and de-icing slippery conditions that may be present on concrete/pavement.

 

Calcium Chloride: Most property managers tend to lean towards this product, mostly because of its incredible ability to perform at below sub-zero winter temperatures.  This product will melt any slippery concrete/pavement conditions and will continue to perform at temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit.  On the downside, it is also highly corrosive.  It tends to pull iron elements from re-bar found within concrete surfaces, causing rusting and cement discoloration.  It also promotes a short freeze/thaw cycle, which can be incredibly stressful and harmful to concrete, resulting in expansion/contraction cracks and flaking damage.  As a de-icing material, it is also highly toxic and harmful to the skin (especially around children, pets, and landscaping beds/plants); on top of being one of the most expensive products on the market.

 

Magnesium Chloride: Similarly to calcium chloride, the pros of this de-icing product include the ability to work at below sub-zero temperatures, all while being environmentally friendly (in regards to plant life).  On a less positive note, magnesium chloride has the tendency to chemically break down concrete by attacking it.  This product also has a tendency to leave behind an oily, slick residue; after all, isn't this what we are trying to prevent in the first place, a slip and fall accident?

 

Urea: A common fertilizer, that is environmentally friendly in small amounts; non-corrosive in its purest form.  The biggest downside - it is THE most expensive de-icer on the market.  The second downside, it only works to temperatures as low as 25 degrees and is not conducive to extreme Chiccagoland winter temperatures.

 

Liquid De-Icers: An extremely viable solution, very cost effective when your company has the proper spreading equipment.  This does NOT, however, have any effectiveness in providing a long term sustainable traction for your facility.  It is typically used as an agent to proactively begin the melting process of solid material or as a pre-treatment to surfaces when icy conditions are expected.

 

Potassium Chloride: Out of all of the de-icing agents, this is the friendliest.  It is not only safe for the environment and around children and pets but it will not do harm to your concrete's structure.  It works down to as low as -5 degrees below zero, which in our business, leaves this chemical compound as one of the most effective with only a few environmental cons to report.

 

When it comes to selecting your snow and ice management company this winter season, give Beverly Companies a call and ask to speak to one of our Accounts Managers on the Beverly Snow & Ice team.  We can be reached through the website, by phone at 708-331-4911, or by email at cgordon@beverlycompanies.com

 

We look forward to hearing from you about your chicago properties snow removal needs.

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