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Calcium Chloride vs Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt: Which to Choose

Calcium Chloride vs Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt: Which to Choose

Justin Rollin

If you’re a facility or commercial property manager in Wisconsin or elsewhere in the Midwest, it’s essential for you to understand the pros and cons of calcium chloride vs magnesium chloride and which will benefit your specific property. You should consider the surfaces you will be applying your ice melt to, as well as your budget and your environmental impact.

Below, we will talk about the upsides and downsides of each type of ice melt so you can make an informed decision about your situation.

What Is Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt?

Magnesium chloride ice melt is an increasingly popular choice of ice melt due to its environmental friendliness. It is a fast-acting option that melts ice before it forms while leaving little residue in its wake and saving you the clean-up time. It’s also not irritating when it comes in contact with skin. The biggest drawbacks are the magnesium chloride ice melt cost, which is higher than traditional rock salt, and the fact that it only works at temperatures at or above 0ºF.

Pros of Magnesium Chloride for Ice Melting

  • It is environmentally friendly and will not harm surrounding plant life and critters
  • It is fast-acting and yields immediate results
  • It won’t be very irritating if you are exposed to it
  • Leaves little residue

Cons of Magnesium Chloride for Ice Melting

  • It is not effective in temperatures below 0ºF and cannot be used in such climates
  • It is one of the most expensive ice melts — about twice the cost of calcium chloride

What Is Calcium Chloride Ice Melt?

magnesium chloride ice melt

Calcium chloride snow melt is a widely used snow and ice management solution often favored by governments, large businesses, and municipalities. It’s very efficient, melting ice immediately after application while preventing more ice from forming, and can remain effective even in extremely cold temperatures. Calcium chloride is also popular thanks to its more affordable price. However, there are a few downsides to this de-icer — primarily its harmful effects on pets and plants.

Pros of Calcium Chloride for Ice Melting

  • It is effective in temperatures starting as low as -25ºF
  • It has a large melting capacity and works quickly
  • According to the EPA, it is environmentally safe
  • It is not very damaging to surfaces like concrete when compared to many other ice melts

Cons of Calcium Chloride for Ice Melting

  • It can be damaging to plant life if overapplied
  • It is more expensive than most rock salts

Comparing Calcium Chloride vs Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt

There are several pros and cons to keep in mind when considering magnesium chloride vs calcium chloride ice melt, as every area and situation is unique and may require different products. Below we’ve listed some of the primary benefits of both de-icers.

You Need Less Calcium Chloride for Effective Ice Melting

Calcium chloride ice melt is applied at higher concentrations (32-38%) than magnesium chloride (21-28%). This means that it is much stronger and less calcium chloride ice melt will be necessary to achieve the same results, saving you time and money in labor and product.

Calcium Chloride Penetrates Ice in Lower Temperatures

calcium chloride vs magnesium chloride

If you live in a particularly freezing place, like many areas in the Midwest, then calcium chloride might be your best option. Calcium chloride ice melt pellets are able to penetrate ice quickly at temperatures as low as -25ºF, a much lower temperature than magnesium chloride is effective at.

Calcium Chloride Melts Ice Faster

Calcium chloride de-icer does not just penetrate the ice better in freezing temperatures, it will also actually melt the ice significantly faster than magnesium chloride. According to a study by SGS Testing Services, within the first five minutes of ice melt application at 0ºF, calcium chloride will melt 40% more ice than magnesium chloride and 75% more after 30 minutes pass.

Magnesium Chloride Is More Environmental Friendly

Any ice melt that contains chloride will have some level of damage to concrete and metals, though the degree of corrosion will depend on the amount of chloride in the product. Both calcium and magnesium chloride contain less chloride than some other ice melting alternatives, but will still be corrosive.

The real difference between the two is that, unlike calcium chloride, magnesium chloride de-icer is not as harmful to lawns, pets, vegetation, or people. Though you should not apply magnesium chloride directly to plants or grass, you can breathe easier when applying it to sidewalks, parking lots, or similar surfaces, as it is considered much safer.


How should I store calcium and magnesium ice melts?

Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride ice melts should both be stored where they cannot come into contact with any moisture, as they will start to absorb the moisture over time which will result in clumping of the product and less effectiveness. To properly store ice melts, seal them tightly in a container so they can’t absorb any moisture and keep them in a cool, dry place in a flat position.

How to minimize the negative effects of ice melt on the environment?

The best way to reduce any potential negative effects of ice melt is to remove it right away. The longer it sits on a surface, the more damage it will do, so remove the salty slush ASAP. To avoid damaging grass and other plant life, be sure not to plow the snow containing ice melt onto the grass.

Where to buy magnesium and calcium chloride ice melt?

If you’re wondering where to buy magnesium chloride ice melt or calcium chloride ice melt, Ninja De-Icer is ready to help. We are a premier, reliable salt and de-icer supplier serving the Midwest and beyond. Contact us today to speak with our specialists regarding your municipality, commercial property, or facility.

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Both calcium chloride and magnesium chloride have benefits and drawbacks, so it’s all about knowing which is best for your unique application, whether that be a municipality or a retail parking lot, or anything else. If you’re looking for high-quality calcium chloride or magnesium chloride ice melt products, you can count on Ninja De-Icer, your trusted supplier of bulk de-icing products.