Yes, there are many ice melt products that are safer to use on concrete! If you have a concrete driveway or you have a lot of concrete surfaces (like sidewalks) surrounding your property, there are many deicing agents that you can consider. Even though traditional rock salt is one of the first products that businesses use because it is effective and cost-efficient, it is very corrosive and isn't considered to be a pet-safe ice melt. Let's explore more products that you can consider to safely melt snow on concrete surfaces.
Is Rock Salt Concrete Friendly?
Rock salt is the most common ice-melting agent used in the snow removal business. It’s cost-effective, easy to supply, and straightforward to store in bulk. Sodium chloride is the most popular product on the shelves. As innocuous as rock salt may seem, it’s very bad when used on concrete. One or two seasons of heavy rock salt application will result in crumbling and flaking of concrete. Soon enough, you’ll find that you may need to replace sidewalks, walkways, or much larger areas.
Here are some overall pros and cons of using conventional rock salt on a concrete surface.
- It is capable of breaking the freeze-thaw cycle in temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit although its effectiveness begins to decrease around 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit
- Affordable and easy to obtain
- As concrete is made from millions of small pores, using rock salt on top of them can create a significant issue as the snow and ice begins to permeate that surface
- It produces a "spalling" process that can jeopardize the structural integrity of your concrete
- Concrete that's been flooded with frozen salt could retain up to 10% more water
Best Ice Melt for Concrete Surfaces
There are many concrete-safe ice melt products that you can consider during the winter season and beyond. While there are pros and cons of using each of the following in colder temperatures, it is important to find one that generates heat and initiates the melting process in a way that's suitable for your specific needs. Here are some products that you can consider using on concrete areas.
Calcium chloride ice melt products are ideal if you're hoping to minimize the damage to your concrete but you still need a cost-effective solution. It has a lower practical operating temperature compared with rock salt so it won't cause as much structural damage to your concrete in low temperatures.
This deicing agent can function in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that you can use it in low temperatures and it will still stop freeze thaw cycles from occurring. In northern America, even some of the coldest nights don't drop below this temperature, so you can rest assured that this product will work without a ton of negative impact on your concrete.
As soon as calcium chloride pellets come into contact with water, it produces a chemical reaction that generates heat. This makes it a suitable option at even lower temperatures than other options we will explore.
Magnesium chloride is another concrete-safe option that you can consider. It holds onto its chloride compound for longer than other varieties, so it’s mostly washed away with snowmelt and spring rain. However, even magnesium chloride will give you problems if used too freely. Only use just enough to cover the ice or snow and don’t over apply. As innocent as salt may seem, it’s a corrosive substance that you don’t want to blanket your customers’ property with.
Potassium chloride blends are another alternative to using rock salt, sodium chloride, on your concrete surfaces. It works at a slower rate compared to other products but it is more effective in temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. It makes sense to use this product on both concrete surfaces but it is also considered to be safe for your pets, plants, and water supplies. Many people use it in conjunction with other products. Beware if you are using it in large quantities on your bricks as it can cause some damage.
CMA (Calcium Magnesium Acetate)
CMA ice melt for concrete is another popular option although it works slightly differently compared with other products mentioned on this list. Rather than the small granules forming a brine, it instead prevents snow particles from sticking to one another on concrete surfaces. It is partially made from acetic acid which is the main component found in vinegar. It is safe to use around animals and plants and again, can be used as an additive to other snow melt products to help improve their safety.
It especially won't damage concrete if it is used on newer surfaces that are less than two years old. It is an ice melt for concrete that can be used in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit and it's easy to cover a large area with minimal product as the granules are so small.
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Are There Any Salt-Free Ice Melting Alternatives to Use on Concrete?
The truth is, salt-based ice melts have always been the gold standard for removing snow and ice. However, salt-based ice melts are bad for pets, plant life, the environment, and concrete. For people who want to steer clear of those dangers, there are salt-free and environmentally friendly ice melters that can be effective, only in a different manner.
There are other organic ways to melt ice on your concrete surfaces that you might not yet have considered. For example, sugar beet juice is an alternative that can be used as a supplement to existing salt brine. It helps to reduce how corrosive the salt is and adds color so you can see where you're applying it. Pickle juice is another example that's used as a snow melt and works to proactive melt ice before it has a chance to bond to the surface.
Glycol-Based Ice Melts for Concrete Driveways
Another alternative to sodium-based ice melts is to use glycol as a deicing agent. There are two common varieties of glycol-based agents and they differ wildly in their chemical composition as well as their effect on your property.
If you’re going to go with a glycol-based ice-melting agent, then propylene glycol is your best bet. Not only is this product super effective at melting ice down to -75 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s also pet safe, plant-friendly, and even safer for concrete since it is less corrosive. Most propylene products have aggregate added for traction since the product is commonly in liquid form.
If you’ve ever sat at your gate, waiting to board an airplane in the winter, while watching airport officials spray deicer on your plane’s wings, then you’ve seen ethylene glycol in action. It’s an extremely effective ice-melting agent and the very same stuff that goes into the antifreeze in your car. While ethylene has a minimal effect on your concrete, it’s a sweet-tasting, highly toxic solution that might be best relegated to use on aircrafts rather than your parking lot or walkway.
Tips for Treating Ice and Snow on Concrete Surfaces Without Causing Damage
Whether you're treating a concrete surface or you want general knowledge about how to break the freeze thaw cycle, here are some tips:
- Install heated pavement: If you're planning to install new concrete, you can consider investing in a hydronic heating system that eliminates the snow and ice buildup on its surface. Even though they're expensive, they can eliminate the need for plowing and shoveling in the future.
- Don't over-apply deicer. Stick to the recommended application rate and wait for it to dissolve the ice before adding more. Over-application can cause too much liquid to penetrate the concrete, which can lead to cracking and other issues.
- Once the ice has been removed, sweep the excess deicer and slush off the concrete surface to prevent any buildup. If left to dry, it can cause discoloration or etching.
Don't forget to consider anti-icing and pre-wetting options. In most cases, liquid deicers are the ideal solution for anti-icing and pre-wetting.
Is There a Truly Concrete-Safe Snow Removal Solution?
Every concrete-safe snow and ice removal solution comes with its caveats. However, if you use these products sparingly and understand their chemical makeup and the effect they have on the environment, then you can make an informed decision on which product is best for your needs.
However, if what you’re looking for is a truly safe snow removal solution, then you might want to go back to the old way of doing things. With the right tools and the gumption, you can clear most pathways and driveways with a minimal amount of chemical assistance. You know more than anyone that most snow and ice can be picked up with a plow, with no chemicals needed.
Consider working a green-friendly process into your snow removal marketing. Today, most customers love the idea that their snow removal contractor is environmentally conscious. Whatever you do, ensure that you’re using these snow removal chemicals safely and responsibly.
Find the Best Ice Melt Products Today at Ninja De-icer!
Ninja De-Icer is proud to offer a range of products that can effectively and safely remove snow and ice from your concrete surfaces. Our team has some of the safest and most effective products on the market that you will feel good about using time and time again. If you're interested in learning more about how our team can assist you, get a quote from us today!