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How to Choose the Right Ice Melt for Any Job

How to Choose the Right Ice Melt for Any Job

Justin Rollin

De-icer is a catch-all term for the many types of chemical compounds used to melt ice and snow — each with different pros and cons. Some work at varying temperatures and have different side effects, while some de-icers work best on different surfaces:

  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Metal
  • Roofing

At Ninja De-Icer, we offer several stellar ice melt products to choose from. We provide high-quality bulk rock salt, ice melt, liquid de-icer, and more to customers across the country. Whether it's for a municipality, you run a small business that services residential properties, or a large business that services commercial properties, it is important to choose the right de-icing product to suit your application.

Is Ice Melting Endothermic or Exothermic?

types of ice melt

The melting process of ice can be either exothermic or endothermic, depending on its chemical composition. Depending on your climate, one option may be preferable over the other. In any case, both are safe when used correctly.

Exothermic Ice Melt

Exothermic products containing calcium chloride are the perfect solution for extremely cold climates. When it comes in contact with water, this type of product releases heat, making it effective even at temperatures as low as -25°F.

Endothermic Ice Melt

Endothermic products are a great choice for climates with milder winters, as they contain sodium chloride which absorbs heat from the atmosphere, melting pesky ice and snow.

Understanding Different Types of Ice Melt to Choose From

Choosing the right ice melter for your needs can be challenging. We've outlined the 6 most common types of ice melt and ranked them from highest to lowest in terms of their minimum effective melting temperature:

  • Sodium Chloride
  • Calcium Chloride
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • Blends
  • Liquid Brine
  • Potassium Chloride

It is important to note that the lowest effective temperature may vary by manufacturer. Additionally, some compounds offer other benefits such as being less corrosive or having a lower environmental impact.

Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt)

what is the best ice melt

Rock salt is the most common snow and ice management product, though it isn't classified as an ice melt. It only costs about $4.50 per 50 lbs and can melt snow and ice above 15 degrees Fahrenheit. As far as de-icers go, rock salt is fairly slow, and leaves behind a powdery residue when it dries. Rock salt is most effective on most surfaces, making it especially popular for roadways, parking lots, concrete driveways, and walkways. Be careful when distributing it, as it is toxic to wildlife.

Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride is a chemical compound that has many uses, including de-icing roads and sidewalks. While calcium chloride has its advantages, it also has some drawbacks that should be considered before using it.

Pros of Calcium Chloride:

  • Melts ice quickly and effectively at very low temperatures (down to -25°F)
  • Less corrosive than rock salt
  • Less damaging to plants, vegetation, and lawns

Cons of Calcium Chloride:

  • More expensive than rock salt/sodium chloride
  • Can cause corrosion in steel structures over time
  • Can cause skin irritation if handled without proper safety precautions

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride is a popular choice for ice and snow melt products due to its effectiveness and minimal environmental impact. It can be used in temperatures as low as -13°F and is less corrosive than rock salt, making it safer for plants and pets. Here are some of the pros and cons of using magnesium chloride for melting ice.

Pros of Magnesium Chloride:

  • Melts ice quickly and effectively
  • Safer for plants and pets
  • Less corrosive than rock salt
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons of Magnesium Chloride:

  • Can be more expensive than other options
  • Not effective at temperatures below -13°F

CMA Ice Melt

choosing the best ice melter

Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is a great alternative to traditional road salt for de-icing. It is free of sodium, nitrogen, and chloride, making it much more environmentally friendly than other products. CMA does not create a brine, so it can be used more effectively for de-icing. Additionally, CMA ice melt is less corrosive than salt, meaning that it won't damage concrete or other surfaces as quickly.

Pros of CMA:

  • Less corrosive than traditional de-icers
  • Biodegradable
  • Non-toxic to plants and animals
  • Concrete safe

Cons of CMA:

  • More expensive than other types of de-icers
  • Not as effective at lower temperatures (-20°F or below)

Natural Ice Melt Blends

Ice melt blends' active ingredients are sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, and calcium chloride, giving it maximum effectiveness when melting snow and ice. Ice Breaker Salt Blend can melt at up to 0°F, making it a popular choice of de-icer. It is usually pink, which makes it easy to see how well distributed it is in snowy conditions and prevents overapplication. The most common uses for ice melt blends like Ice Breaker are on roadways, parking lots, and walkways.

Pros of Blends:

  • Quickly and effectively remove ice from surfaces
  • Can be used in a variety of temperatures
  • Can be used on concrete, asphalt, and other surfaces
  • Less corrosive
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons of Blends:

  • Can be expensive compared to other deicers
  • Can damage vegetation if not used properly

Potassium Chloride

choosing ice melt

Potassium chloride is an effective ice and snow melter that can be used in pellet or liquid form. It works at temperatures of 12º Fahrenheit or higher, although it may not be as fast-acting as rock salt and other de-icing products. The advantage of potassium chloride is that it won't cause corrosion damage to concrete and vehicles like some other de-icing solutions:

  • Potassium chloride has a high eutectic point of 12°F, meaning it will not work effectively in temperatures below this point.
  • Potassium chloride can be harmful to pets if ingested in large quantities and should be used with caution around animals.

Liquid De-icer

Liquid de-icers are a little different, as their ideal use is for pre-treatment. It stops the snow from sticking to the pavement. If the snow can’t stick to the pavement, then ice won’t form when temperatures drop below freezing. It is a popular choice over many other ice melt compounds.

Pros of Liquid De-icer:

  • Non-toxic solution
  • Can be applied prior to a winter storm
  • Safer for all surfaces
  • It is cheaper in the long run since there is less waste

Cons of Liquid De-icer:

  • Can be expensive compared to other deicing methods
  • Can be corrosive on some surfaces if not used correctly
  • Needs some knowledge or training to use it correctly

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Ice Melt

how to choose an ice melt

Now that you know all about the different kinds of deicers offered, decide what is the best ice melt for your property. Look at how low the temperatures will be reaching and consider the effective temperature of the de-icer you are using. You don’t want to be stuck with a deicer that won’t melt the ice and snow at the temperature it is going to drop to. It is also important to look at the property, and how much vegetation there is. Weigh if it is worth ruining the landscaping for a specific deicer.

It is also important to consider safety conditions. Consider that different deicers melt ice at different speeds. If you are going to have people driving or walking on your property right when the ice is forming, consider using a faster deicer. You want to make sure they are as safe as possible and don’t slip and fall. Protecting your business and its customers should be the main component when deciding what product to use. Having a few options on hand is always a good idea so that you are covered no matter the situation.


When it comes to ice melt, there are a variety of options available. Different manufacturers offer different compounds, each with their own unique ingredients and price points. Some ice melts may be more expensive than others, so it's important to do your research before making a purchase.

Environmental Effect

Ice melt is an essential tool for keeping our sidewalks and parking lots safe during the winter months. However, it's important to consider the environment when selecting and applying ice melt products. Different chemicals in ice melts can have varying effects on plants, animals, waterways, concrete, and metal. It's important to be mindful of these potential impacts when choosing a product and when applying it. When using any kind of chemical-based product, take time to properly read and follow the directions listed. Taking such precautions will help make sure that you are using the product safely and effectively while minimizing potential risks to yourself and the environment.

Residual Action

best ice melt options

The chemical composition of ice melt plays an important role in how long it will provide de-icing action after application. Liquid ice melts are usually more expensive than solid ice melts, but they offer longer residual action and can save money in the long run due to requiring fewer applications and less labor. Liquid ice melts are in a brine state for a longer period of time compared to solid ice melts, making them a better choice for those looking for longer-lasting de-icing action.

Melting Point

The lowest melting point is the temperature at which an ice melt will be most effective. Ice melts can be used at temperatures as low as -25°F, however, some are only effective down to 15°F.

In extremely cold temperatures, exothermic ice melts are more effective because they produce their own heat and moisture, allowing the brine to form and penetrate the ice. Endothermic ice melts work better in moderately cold temperatures such as 15°F and above since it needs to draw heat energy from its surroundings in order to dissolve.

Ice Melt Form and Shape

Ice melt is a great way to remove snow and ice from sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. It comes in both solid and liquid forms. Solid ice melt is the most popular option and works by absorbing moisture from the top of the ice, permeating downward, and creating a brine that softens the bond between the ice and the surface. This type of ice melt is applied using a salt spreader.

Liquid ice melt is applied before snow or ice as a pretreatment. The brine prevents snow and ice from sticking to surfaces like sidewalks or parking lots. Liquid ice melt is applied using a liquid sprayer mounted to a vehicle or tanker truck.

Additionally, round, solid de-icers are most effective at removing ice because they melt downward and outward evenly, allowing them to quickly penetrate all the way down to the ground. Irregularly shaped particles take longer to penetrate down to the ground since they melt horizontally as much as they do vertically downward.

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What Is the Best Ice Melt Option for the Different Needs?

Ice melt compounds are used to reduce the freezing point of water and create a liquid brine solution. Different ice melt compounds have different levels of effectiveness in different conditions, with each having its own effective melting temperatures, residual de-icing action, and potential environmental effects.

Calcium chloride is the most effective ice melt at lower temperatures, but it is more expensive than common ice melts such as rock salt. Rock salt is best if you are looking for the cheapest option, but it can be toxic to plants if applied in excess and is only effective to about 15º F.

Magnesium chloride is a good choice for facilities concerned with the environment, while potassium chloride and urea are not as popular due to their inability to work in colder temperatures and high cost. Blended ice melts are formulated to utilize the best attributes of each chemical compound while keeping the cost reasonable.

Find the Right Ice Melt for Your Needs at Ninja De-Icer!

Choosing the best ice melt for your property can be a difficult but important task. Factors such as price, effectiveness in different temperatures, residual de-icing action, and potential environmental effects should all be taken into consideration when making your selection. At Ninja De-Icer, we offer a variety of products to handle even the toughest ice and snow winter throws at you.

Don’t wait until it’s too late – get a quote today to find the right ice melt solution for your property!