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Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride) vs Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt

Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride) vs Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt

Justin Rollin

When it comes to de-icing solutions for commercial properties, the debate often boils down to magnesium chloride vs sodium chloride. Each compound offers distinct advantages and limitations in managing icy conditions. 

This blog delves into the essential differences between these two popular de-icing agents, helping property managers and municipalities make informed decisions for your winter maintenance strategy. 

We’ve put this together to explore effectiveness, cost, environmental impact, and more, to provide a clear understanding of which option may best suit your facility's needs.

What Is Rock Salt 

What Is Rock Salt

When you think of de-icing salt — this is usually the one you think of. Rock salt (sodium chloride, NaCl), is the most common salt used for melting ice and snow, due to its affordability and availability. One of its greatest drawbacks, however, is its reduced effectiveness in low temperatures, because it's endothermic and draws heat from its surroundings to create the ice-melting brine.

Considering the ideal melting temperature of rock salt is about 15º Fahrenheit, colder temperatures are not conducive to rock salt use. Also, rock salt can be corrosive and often environmentally unfriendly.

We at Ninja De-Icer recommend treated rock salt, a more effective solution thanks to its increased performance, lower corrosion rate, and safer environmental use.

Popular Sodium Chloride Products

  • Ice Away Rock Salt is crafted for optimal efficiency, featuring specially-sized, chunky halite crystals that maximize ice melting and facilitate easy spreading. Designed to work swiftly and effectively, it's perfect for parking lot applications. This sodium chloride-based product is white and remains effective down to 5°F. We at Ninja recommend Ice Away Rock Salt bags for a straightforward and effective solution to your ice-melting needs.
  • Royal Blue Halite Rock Salt, mined directly from the earth, is a high-quality ASTM-1 grade sodium chloride treated with an anti-caking agent to prevent clumping and hardening. Its distinctive royal blue color, achieved through dyeing, simplifies application, making it highly visible during spreading. Effective down to 5°F, this rock salt is particularly well-suited for use in parking lot applications, offering reliable de-icing performance.
  • Halite Rock Salt is a classic de-icing solution, composed primarily of sodium chloride. This white-colored salt is effective in melting ice in temperatures as low as 5°F, making it a reliable choice for combating icy conditions. Its straightforward composition and efficacy make Halite Rock Salt a staple for winter safety in various settings.

What Is Magnesium Chloride

What Is Magnesium Chloride

Is magnesium chloride a salt? Yes, actually, it is! But it differs from other salts in a few ways. First, magnesium chloride is exothermic which means it gives off heat, making it work to melt ice and snow faster. Additionally, magnesium chloride is still effective at melting even at temperatures well below zero.  

Second, magnesium chloride is significantly less corrosive than other ice-melting salts, making it safer to use around metal infrastructure. Lastly, magnesium chloride is much more environmentally friendly, creating a safer environment for animals and surrounding vegetation.

Often magnesium chloride is blended with other salts, namely sodium chloride, to achieve the desired effect. The following are a few of our top products at Ninja De-Icer.

Top Magnesium Chloride Ice Melts

  • 12 Lb Lightning Fast Ice Melter Shaker Jug is an effective de-icing product that combines sodium chloride and magnesium chloride, along with a corrosion inhibitor and a proprietary blend. With its chemical composition, it offers superior ice melting performance even in temperatures as low as -20°F.
  • Lightning Premium Ice Melter is a high-performance de-icing product that combines the power of sodium chloride, pre-treated with magnesium chloride. It is further enhanced with a corrosion inhibitor to ensure efficient ice melting. With its chemical composition and effective temperature range of -20°F, it is capable of rapidly melting ice.
  • Jiffy Melt® Ice Melt, a premium de-icing product, combines the power of sodium chloride with magnesium chloride, enhancing its efficacy. The magnesium chloride component enables it to work effectively at temperatures as low as -10°F, ensuring rapid activation and quick ice breakup. Available in convenient 50 lbs bags, Jiffy Melt® is an efficient solution for harsh winter conditions.

Magnesium Chloride vs Sodium Chloride: A Comprehensive Comparison for De-Icing

When winter rolls around, the choice of de-icing material becomes a critical decision for commercial property owners, municipalities, and businesses alike. Two of the most common ice melt products are sodium chloride vs magnesium chloride. Each has unique properties and effectiveness, making them suitable for different conditions and requirements. This comprehensive comparison will help you understand which option might be best for your needs.

Magnesium Chloride vs Sodium Chloride
Criteria Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride)
Effectiveness Highly effective at lower temperatures, works quickly. Effective, but may be slower and less efficient in extreme cold.
Temperature Effective at temperatures as low as -20°F. Effective down to about 5°F.
Cost Generally more expensive than rock salt. Less expensive, more widely available.
Corrosiveness Less corrosive than rock salt, safer for metal surfaces and vegetation. Corrosive, can damage concrete and metal over time.
Pet-Friendliness Generally more pet-friendly, less likely to cause irritation. Can be harmful to pets' paws and potentially toxic if ingested in large quantities.

1. Sodium Chloride vs Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt: Effectiveness

Magnesium chloride is known for its high efficiency in melting ice. It is hygroscopic, meaning it can absorb moisture from the surroundings, which helps it start forming brine for melting quickly and acting on the ice immediately. This quality makes it highly effective, especially in dealing with thin layers of ice or preventing the re-formation of ice.

Sodium chloride, commonly known as rock salt, is the most common choice for de-icing. It's effective in breaking down ice, but its effectiveness decreases as the temperature drops, meaning it will struggle to melt ice in extremely cold conditions.

More effective: Magnesium chloride

2. Which De-Icer Has a Lower Freezing Temperature?

2. Which De-Icer Has a Lower Freezing Temperature?

One of the significant advantages of magnesium chloride products is its effectiveness in extremely cold temperatures. It can work in conditions as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an excellent choice for areas experiencing severe winter conditions.

Sodium chloride works best at temperatures around 15 degrees Fahrenheit but has the power to melt ice at temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lower temperatures: Magnesium chloride

3. Which Ice Melt Is Less Costly?

Generally, magnesium chloride is more expensive than rock salt. Magnesium chloride is naturally present in the liquid form. The removal of excess water is required and it takes time before it can be sold, which makes it more expensive.  

Rock salt is harvested from mines underground in its natural form, making it less expensive and more readily available. Sodium chloride is a cost-effective solution for large-scale use in areas where extreme cold is not a regular occurrence.

More affordable: Sodium chloride

Stay Safe and Ice-Free This Winter! Stock Up Now

Stay Safe and Ice-Free This Winter! Stock Up Now

Protect your property from icy hazards with our high-quality de-icing products. Order now for a worry-free winter season!

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4. Which De-Icing Product Is Less Corrosive?

Magnesium chloride is less corrosive than sodium chloride especially when coated with a corrosion inhibitor, making it a safer choice for metals and around vegetation. This reduced corrosiveness also means it’s less damaging to vehicles and infrastructure.

Sodium chloride is known for its corrosive properties. Rock salt can cause damage to concrete and metal structures, and can be harmful to vegetation. Its corrosive nature also makes it harsh on vehicles, especially the undercarriage parts.

Less corrosive: Magnesium chloride

5. Rock Salt vs Magnesium Chloride: Pet-Friendliness

Magnesium chloride ice melt is generally more pet-friendly than rock salt or calcium chloride. It’s less likely to irritate pets' paws or cause harm if ingested in small amounts. However, pet owners should still opt for formulations specifically labeled as safe for pets.

Rock salt can be harmful to pets. It can cause irritation and cracks in the paws and can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. If pets walk on areas treated with rock salt, it’s essential to clean their paws afterward to avoid irritation or ingestion.

Less irritating: Magnesium chloride

Which Option Is the Best for You?

The choice between magnesium chloride and sodium chloride for de-icing, especially for commercial properties, largely depends on specific needs and conditions. While magnesium chloride offers lower temperature effectiveness and less corrosiveness, sodium chloride stands out for its cost-effectiveness and availability. 

At Ninja De-Icer, your trusted de-icer supplier, we understand these nuances and are ready to help you make the best choice. Consult with us to explore your options and get a quote tailored to your commercial property's winter maintenance needs.