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When & Why You Should Use Liquid Deicer

When & Why You Should Use Liquid Deicer

Justin Rollin

Rock salt will always be a staple in snow removal. It’s the tried and true method that everyone knows is dependable. However, there are other methods for removing ice and snow that are worth investing in. After all, you pride your snow removal business as both innovative and dependable — so why not look toward a multi-faceted approach to removal? Having a diverse snow removal regimen will make you a versatile business — and clients will take notice.

What Are Liquid De-Icers?

If you’re not familiar with liquid ice melt, think of them as granular de-icer that has been dissolved in water. As soon as a de-icer is placed in water, it begins to dissolve and become diluted. During this dilution process, the ice melting power also dilutes, which is why most contain additives to counteract this. This is an area that is frequently misunderstood, as de-icers work by lowering the temperature at which the product will melt ice and snow.

What Is Liquid Deicer Made of?

What Is Liquid Deicer Made Of?

Is liquid deicer salt? A lot of clients may ask you questions about liquid deicer ingredients. It’s best to have an informed answer ready. Luckily, there’s an easy answer to that question. The most common liquid deicers are simple sodium chloride brines. That means they are composed of a proportion of water and salt — the very same salt that goes into rock salt.

Liquid deicers work differently than rock salt, not due to their chemical composition, but due to the way they’re applied. They’re more precise and readily stick (and stay put) onto surfaces, making them a proactive solution to snow removal. Because the salt is diluted by water, they’re slower acting but more persistent than regular rock salt.

Common Types of Liquid De-Icers

Many types of de-icers come in a liquid form. Each product has its distinct properties. No two are alike.

Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt)

Effectiveness: 15 F or above

Most Effective: After Weather Event

Ecological Impact: High

Corrosiveness: High

Yes, even rock salt can be considered a liquid deicer. It’s common for snow removal companies (and homeowners) to dilute their rock salt into a 3-to-1 ratio (water to salt) of hot water. From there, you have more flexibility in how you deploy your salt and how thin you can spread it.

Calcium Chloride

Effectiveness: -20 F or above

Most Effective: After Weather Event

Ecological Impact: Low

Corrosiveness: Lows

Calcium chloride is most often stored as a liquid and mixed with rock salt to increase the salt’s ability to penetrate snow and ice. Calcium chloride also has an exothermic reaction to moisture (just like rock salt) and will work with the salt to change the melting point of snow and ice, thus neutralizing it faster than rock salt alone.

Magnesium Chloride

Effectiveness: 0 F or above

Most Effective: After Weather Event

Ecological Impact: Low

Corrosiveness: High

Magnesium chloride works much in the way as calcium chloride but no as effectively in sub-freezing temperatures. It’s most often mixed with sodium chloride (or even sand) and applied to roadways. Wet salt will scatter less and the addition of magnesium chloride will lower the salt’s effective temperature, though not as greatly as calcium chloride. Mixing salt with magnesium chloride will allow you to use less salt as well.

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Potassium Chloride

Effectiveness: 12 F or above

Most Effective: After Weather Event

Ecological Impact: Low

Corrosiveness: Low

Potassium chloride works in pellet or liquid form and is not typically added to rock salt. On its own, it can function as an ice and snow melter at 12F or above but does not work as fast as rock salt and previously-mentioned rock salt additives. However, because it has no actual rock salt it lacks the potential to cause corrosion damage to concrete and vehicles.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)

Effectiveness: 15 F or Above

Most Effective: Before Weather Event

Ecological Impact: Low

Corrosiveness: Low

Best used as a pre-treatment before snow and ice form, CMA is almost in its own category as far as how it works to melt snow and ice. Rather than produce an exothermic reaction (heat) and change the melting temperature of precipitation, CMA changes the surface adhesion of snow and ice particles; it makes them drier and less likely to stick to each other or surfaces. Because there is no salt in CMA there is little to no corrosion concern.

Potassium Acetate

Effectiveness: -32 F or Above

Most Effective: Before Weather Event

Ecological Impact: Low

Corrosiveness: Low

Potassium Acetate works in much the same way as CMA. Best used before snow and ice form, it is applied over a surface and, as snow and ice begin to accumulate, changed the surface-bonding qualities of their particles. Ice cannot form because its particles do not adhere to one another and snow simply blows away. Its effective temperature is much lower than CMA, which makes it a great solution to your anti-icing strategy.

Why Choose Liquid Ice Melt?

Liquid ice melt also referred to as Liquid De-icer or liquid brine offers increased efficiency in this process. It works at lower temperatures, reduces scatter as it sticks to the pavement, reduces the number of applications needed, can be used before a storm hits, requires less product to be used because it’s so much more effective.

Liquids are an especially beneficial medium when applying and distributing de-icing products and allow companies to reduce the overall application amount. This is important as it allows snow removal companies to reduce both their costs and their environmental impact. The goal is to use as little product as possible to complete the job while maximizing profits.

Advantages of Liquid Ice Melt

1. Liquid Deicer Is a Versatile Tool 

Have you considered investing in liquid deicers to complement your supply of rock salt? And what is liquid deicer, anyway? In essence, it’s a liquid salt solution that has a broader set of uses in snow removal than just plain rock salt. While it’s not in widespread use as a go-to product in snow removal, it’s quickly becoming one. And there are several reasons to add it to your arsenal before you’re left in the dust (or snow flurries) by other, more innovative businesses in your region.

2. Liquid Ice Melt Is Environmentally Friendly

Liquid Deicer Is an Environmentally Conscious Product

Because of their liquid state, salt brines are easier to control in their application. Because you’re covering a more precise area, you’re wasting less salt and are thus contaminating less ground with sodium chloride. Liquid deicer is not a compound that is fundamentally more safe than rock salt (or less corrosive), but you tend to use less of it and use it only where needed.

3. Liquid Deicer Spray Sticks to Surfaces

The salt crystals that constitute a deicing solution are smaller and mixed with a liquid. When applied to the surface of a road, the solution doesn’t scatter and bounce around as salt crystals do — it adheres to wherever it’s applied. This makes liquid deicing agents more effective by their ability to stay where they’re applied, prolonging their usefulness.

4. Liquid Ice Melt Is Cheaper 

Even though this isn’t a universal rule, liquid de-icer tends to be more affordable than salt because it allows for more controlled application and requires fewer applications thanks to its powerful effect in low temperatures. In addition, it takes fewer man hours to apply liquid ice melt versus rock salt as you reduce the number of times you need to reapply the product.  Reducing the number of applications not only saves on man hours but also is better for the environment and our infrastructure.  

5. Liquid Ice Melt Causes Less Damage

Compared with salt, liquid de-icer is much easier to apply with precision. Salt is spread as it’s sprayed, making it more difficult to control. This reason alone can often cause additional damage compared with liquid de-icer. For example, a property at Crocker Park previously required ~20 trees to be replaced annually. In the spring after switching to liquid de-icer, the number of trees dropped to fewer than five, resulting in thousands of dollars saved. 

Liquid ice melt is safe to use on the following:

  • Concrete
  • Brick
  • Asphalt
  • Wood (treated and untreated)
  • Mortar
  • Stucco.

Liquid Ice Melt Cons

Liquid Deicers Are Multipurpose

1. Liquid Ice Melt Requires more Equipment

Liquid de-icers typically require extra equipment for storage and spreading. This equipment can include anything from holding tanks for the product to pumps and spray equipment for effective application. 

2. Liquid Ice Melt Is Not Effective If Applied Too Early

Don’t apply the liquid ice melt too early, however! It should ideally be applied as early as 48 hours in advance. When liquid ice is applied too far in advance, it will likely wash away or naturally wear away, making it less effective.

Understanding Different Liquid Ice-Melt Uses


If you want to be proactive, make sure you don’t skip the anti-icing step, as it helps prevent the snow and ice from bonding to the pavement in the first place. Most anti-icing agents are capable of melting up to an inch of snow, which will give you additional time to remove the snow and ice. 

As it takes up to 5x more salt and 50% more resources to break up the ice that has already bonded to the pavement, using anti-icing techniques can help you minimize your operating costs while increasing your efficiency. If the temperatures are above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, anti-icing liquids shouldn’t be applied as they can increase slickness.


Another consideration when using liquid ice melt is referred to as pre-wetting. This is the process of applying liquid to dry salt before it’s spread onto the surface of the road or sidewalk. The pre-wetting process is helpful as it increases the speed of the melting process. In addition, pre-wetting prevents any salt from bounding or blowing away from the desired surface which quickly eats away at your supply. Many companies choose to pre-wet their salt to reduce the overall amount of waste. 


As soon as the snow has fallen and the ice has had a chance to bond to the surface, it’s time to start the de-icing process. You can apply de-icing liquid alone in thin layers or in combination with solid ice melt. Either way, it will help to break up the ice and weaken the bond it has with the surface. De-icing is a method to melt ice and snow from the top down. Make sure that you plow before you apply any de-icing solutions. In addition, foot and car traffic will help to break down the ice and snow, meaning these areas require less material.

FAQ on Liquid Deicers

Is Liquid De-Icer a Better Investment than a Solid De-Icer?

Solid deicers have been the most popular method of snow removal for the longest time. Solid de-icers are trusted, proven, and cost-effective. On the other hand, liquid deicers are gaining in popularity due to their efficacy in snow removal and ice prevention. Liquid deicers are a great investment because of the versatility in their application versus the traditional rock salt de-icer.

Do I Need Special Knowledge to Use Liquid De-Icer?

If you are new to liquid de-icers, it is wise to talk to a professional before using them. A contractor can explain the liquid de-icing process to a customer because it is different from the rock salt de-icing of the past. The efficacy of liquid deicers depends on timing, and a professional can guide you so that you get the best results for your money.

Will Liquid De-Icer Reduce Plowing Time?

Due to its compound, liquid deicers will save you time and money this winter when plowing. Liquid de-icer is an organic-based substance; rock salt blend mixed with calcium chloride and a wide range of other calcium blends. This is a magic snow removal method that would make it difficult for ice to attach to the surface.

Are De-Icers Environmentally Friendly?

Liquid de-icers use similar materials to solid de-icers, so their impact on the environment is almost identical. The enormous difference is that when liquid deicers are used, less material is used for the same level of effectiveness.


Liquid de-icers have distinct properties that make them the ideal choice in specific situations. Even though rock salt is commonly applied, it is limited based on temperature. If you have additional questions on when to use a liquid de-icer, we proudly provide snow and ice consulting services. Ninja De-Icer is a nationwide supplier of bulk rock salt and liquid de-icers. If you’re interested in working with us or you’d like to get a quote, please reach out to us today!