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Are You Using the Right Kind Ice-Melting Salts?

In most parts of Canada as well as the US, if not all, having sufficient ice-melting salts in stock is essential during winter. To keep public and private roadways open, clear, and safe for everyone, a generous amount of ice-melting salt is usually applied.

Have you ever wondered what makes up the chemical that is routinely applied to roads, sidewalks, and also right in front of your property? Some of them may damage your property, and some can even be harmful to your own safety when touched. There are different types of salts on the market. It is advised to know the differences between them to find the best option for your need.

Do you know what kind of salt is sprinkled on the road?

Sodium Chloride This type of salt gets usually referred to as rock salt. It is usually the most frequently used since it is very inexpensive. They look chunky hence the name. They work in temperatures as low as approximately -15 degrees Celsius (5 Fahrenheit). They can harm both physical structures and materials. Avoid using it on concrete, both old and new, asphalt, stone, and brick. When used excessively, this can also harm the ecosystem. It is also poisonous to pets and can contaminate groundwater. Magnesium Chloride The liquid form of Magnesium Chloride is used as an ice-melting agent on roads. They are an expensive option and as they dissolve, they release heat to combat snow and ice. This type of salt can harm people as well as pets and wildlife. When contacted, it can cause serious problems such as eye discomfort, skin irritations, and burns. Its vapors must not be inhaled because they can cause serious respiratory irritation. In the same sense, it must not be consumed. When used excessively, it corrodes metal and harms the plants. Calcium Chloride This type of ice-melting salt can be found naturally occurring or alternatively made. It is applied in liquid form and comes especially effective at extremely low temperatures. Although this type generally leaves a less negative impact, it can still corrode metals and destroy carpets and tiles. When used excessively, it can leave a disastrous environmental impact. When contacted, it can cause skin irritation and eye discomfort. In addition, this type of ice-melting agent can leave the road soggy and slick, causing slip or fall incidents. Therefore, when opting for this option, precaution is advised. Potassium Chloride Potassium Chloride naturally occurs in plants and thus is deemed a safer option. This one is frequently combined with other types of salt to diminish the negative impacts on the ecosystem. This type of ice melt is not very effective at very low temperatures. Moreover, it is more expensive compared to other options and it may be hard to find it on the market. Ethylene Glycol The biggest advantage of this salt is it works great in extremely cold temperatures, reaching all the way to -58 Degree Celsius (-72.4 Fahrenheit). However, this product can be extremely dangerous for people and animals. When using, extreme caution is a must because it can be fatal if ingested. Other Salt Mixtures There are other different salt mixtures that are on the market. Many companies try to put out different mixtures to bring a product that is very effective yet leaves a less harmful footprint on the environment. If your property often has animals such as pets, opt for a pet-friendly option such as Propylene Glycol. While most ice-melting salts are harmful to pets, they do not cause any problems such as skin irritation and burns.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Salt

  • There really isn’t a fully “safe” salt choice. Unfortunately, all salts are harmful if ingested and can cause skin problems. When salt gets spread out, make sure there are no people or pets nearby.

  • If you are concerned about the safety of your children and/or pets, use products that do not contain salt and chloride. They are less harmful.

  • Consider mixing salt with some sand. It will not be as effective as using salt alone for melting ice, but it will increase traction.

  • Rock salt is commonly used for large areas due to its cheap price, but be careful with the amount as it can damage your property including concrete, decks, as well as patios.

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