Calcium Chloride vs Calcium Magnesium Acetate: Which Should You Choose?
Snow removal management, especially in colder areas like Wisconsin, is all about assessing your specific needs and deciding which method and product will work best for them. Calcium chloride ice melt and calcium magnesium acetate are both incredibly effective tools for melting snow and ice, but each has its pros and cons.
Whether you’re in public works, are a facility manager, or have a snow removal company, this article will help you break down the benefits and drawbacks of each product to make an informed decision.
Common Features of Both Calcium Chloride and Calcium Magnesium Acetate Ice Melts
Believe it or not, there are quite a few features that both CMA ice melt and calcium chloride ice melt share. First, they are both pet and plant friendly, meaning they aren’t toxic to your furry or leafy friends. They are also both less corrosive than common rock salt, meaning they won’t damage your concrete or asphalt as quickly.
Additionally, they can both be used as a pre-treatment for paved surfaces; they will successfully adhere to the pavement to prevent ice and snow from bonding with it. This will make the snow removal later much easier and, if more is used, can prevent the ice from accumulating at all.
Also, neither creates a brine, meaning they will last through more than one snowfall. Finally, they can also both be mixed with sand or rock salt for easy spreading and even more thorough snow and ice management.
Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)
So, what is CMA ice melt? CMA de-icer, made with magnesium, calcium, and acetic acid, is a popular alternative to traditional rock salt. It can be used to prevent ice from forming on roads in temperatures down to -17.5 °F.
Pros of Calcium Magnesium Acetate for Ice Melting
- Calcium magnesium acetate ice melt does not contain any chlorine at all, the chemical which damages roads, making it an excellent de-icing alternative to rock salt if you’re concerned about corrosion. It’s about as corrosive as any tap water!
- CMA is not toxic to plants or animals, meaning your pets and garden are safe.
- CMA is biodegradable, making it a more environmentally-friendly choice.
- Calcium magnesium acetate leaves a residue that makes it effective for longer but won’t be tracked inside.
Cons of Calcium Magnesium Acetate for Ice Melting
- Calcium magnesium acetate is most effective as a pre-treatment to keep ice from forming and snow from packing, meaning it should be applied before snowfall and not during or after.
- CMA cannot be used to melt snow, so if you only use CMA, shoveling or plowing will still be needed after even light snow.
- Similar to rock salt, CMA snowmelt will only melt down to approximately 15ºF.
Calcium Chloride Ice Melt
Calcium chloride ice melt is a salt that serves to prevent hazardous ice accumulation by absorbing moisture and lowering the freezing point of water. Thanks to its concentration of chlorine, calcium chloride is effective in temperatures starting at -25ºF, making it the better choice in extremely cold climates. One calcium chloride application can be effective for more than one snowstorm and can penetrate ice and tightly packed snow at 3x the rate of other products.
Pros of Calcium Chloride Ice Melt
- Calcium chloride de-icer can serve as a powerful dust treatment, keeping dust down on roads, on construction sites, and even in horse arenas. It’s specifically helpful in maintaining compact dirt roads.
- Calcium chloride can melt snow and ice in cold weather conditions as low as -25ºF, significantly lower than similar ice melting products.
- Calcium chloride is fast-acting; within 20 minutes of application at about 20ºF, it will successfully melt twice as much ice or snow as traditional rock salt.
- Calcium chloride ice melt leaves less residue, making it an excellent choice for use around buildings like commercial properties and municipal buildings. Unlike with rock salt, there will not be white or gray marks left when people track snow inside.
Cons of Calcium Chloride Ice Melt
- Calcium chloride is significantly more expensive than alternatives like rock salt and calcium magnesium acetate.
- Calcium chloride has about ⅓ of the amount of chloride as rock salt, but it still has chloride. Due to this chlorine, calcium chloride can be caustic on roads and other paved surfaces. Though not nearly as caustic as rock salt, it will still be more damaging than calcium magnesium acetate.
Should I Use Calcium Chloride or CMA for My Commercial Property?
When considering calcium chloride vs calcium magnesium acetate, keep in mind which functions you are prioritizing.
For example, if you are looking for the more environmentally friendly of the two, CMA is safe for plants and pets and is biodegradable. Or, if you need to melt ice in temperatures that are below 15ºF, calcium chloride should be used. If you’re prioritizing cost, then CMA is the less expensive choice, but if you need dust management, then choose calcium chloride.
Consider your specific needs before making a decision.
Both calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate have plenty of advantages and disadvantages to consider. Keep in mind cost, corrosive effect, temperature, dust control, environmental friendliness, and snowfall.