Ice Melt Buying Guide
There are a few things you want to consider before you purchase your ice melt product. We have listed these considerations below.
- What surfaces will you be treating? – do you have a driveway? Steps that get icy in the winter? Are your sidewalks a hazard in bad weather? Determine what areas you will using the ice melt on.
- Will areas beyond the areas with ice melt be affected? – You should pay attention to the areas outside of the areas you are using the ice melt on. Flower beds, ponds, etc that are close by can be affected by ice melt run off. See what you need to pay attention to.
- Be mindful of where the runoff will go – This is especially important if you have pets and children that could potentially play in the snow surrounding the sidewalks and driveways.
- Look for concrete friendly products – Some ice melt products can be very harsh on concrete and damage it. Get an ice melt product that is concrete friendly and that lists it won’t damage concrete and other surfaces.
- Match the ice melt to the region – Look for the right product that matches the weather you are having. Some products are better suited to large snow storms, ice storms, etc.
Types of Ice Melt
There are several different types of products that are considered ice melt products. We have listed these products below with characteristics of each. Look over the different choices to see which one or ones fit your needs the best.
- Rock Salt – The technical name for rock salt is Halite. This is a mineral form of sodium chloride. When rock salt is put on the ice, it forms a brine substance when it starts to melt. Brine is a combination of salt and water. Brine’s freezing point is lower than that of water and that causes the ice to melt. If you are not in a region with extremely low temperatures (higher than 25 degrees F) rock salt is a very good choice. If you need an ice melt product that is safe for concrete, you should look for another product besides rock salt as this can damage concrete surfaces.
- Calcium Chloride Pellets – This de-icer melts ice quickly after application and is still effective at extremely low temperatures of as low as -24 degrees below zero. This ice melt releases heat which speeds up the melting process right away. This ice melt is actually good for your plants and is considered a nutrient for them. Because of this benefit, using calcium chloride is better than using rock salt.
- Calcium Magnesium Acetate – This product is environmentally friendly and is non-corrosive, safe for plants and water sources in the non-concentrated form and is biodegradable too. If your temperatures get down in the 20 degrees F range this is the product for you. It is safe for use on steps, pavers and sidewalks.
Do’s and Don’ts for Using Ice Melt
- Don’t think the sun will take care of the ice alone. Icy steps, walkways and driveways can be very dangerous and cause really nasty falls. Using a good quality ice melt helps to protect walkers from injury.
- Don’t Use too much ice melt. Using more than the recommended amount does not improve the performance. Stick to the instructions on the container.
- Apply it correctly – Always read the instructions on the bag or bucket of ice melt. Reapplying it is a good maintenance step if you apply it before it snows.
- Use the right kind of ice melt for the best results. The temperature that it melts to is an important number to know. If it gets colder than the bag says it can remain effective it won’t help the icy surfaces at all.
- Not having ice build up on your boots and shoes is a benefit to using ice melt. There won’t be ice and snow on your footwear to track in.
- Don’t use ice melt on brand new concrete or concrete that is less than a year old.
What to Watch Out For
It is very important that you know exactly what type of ice melt to use around your home and surrounding areas like sidewalks and decks. Using the wrong kind can cause certain consequences. We have listed them below.
- Linoleum and VCT can turn dull and need to be restored or replaced
- Stone floors can get scratched and require repair.
- Carpet fibers can wear prematurely or get torn
- Wood can absorb the salt and water and crack and lift up or warp
- Concrete can become pitted and need fixing.
Child and Pet Safety
Ice melt can have dangerous chemicals in it if it is not listed on the container as safe for pets and children. It is very important that you know how to use it when you have children and pets around. We have provided some tips below that will help you use the ice melt safely around your family and keep everyone safe including your pets.
- Choose an ice melt that is safe for use around children and pets
- Walk your pets in areas that are away from ice melt treated areas even if the product is safe for children and pets
- Wipe your pet’s feet off with a dampened towel when you bring them inside after walks
- Don’t allow your pet to drink from puddles where ice melt has been used
- Sodium chloride is deadly for pets. Don’t use products that contain this ingredients
- Don’t allow children to eat snow that is near treated areas
- Don’t allow children from playing outside without gloves on
- Don’t let children pull their gloves off using their mouth
- After taking their boots off, have your child wash their hands. (if you remove their boots for them, be sure that you wash your hands as well)
- Consider colored ice melt so you can easily identify treated areas and show your child where not to go.
- Never leave children outside unattended around areas that have been treated.
Ice melt can be a help in keeping you and your family safe during the winter months when things can get really icy and hazardous to walk on. It works quickly and efficiently and prevents re-freezing. With all of the different brands and choices available you can find an ice melt product that will be perfect for your specific ice melting needs and circumstances.
The top rated ice melt products featured above are good quality, reputable products that get the job done quickly. They are cost effective and two of the three choices are great for those who are using ice melt around their homes that have children and pets present.
Ice melt is not hard to use but you have to be responsible so everyone remains safe. Read the directions on the container and follow it to the letter. It will do a great job getting rid of the hazardous ice on your steps, porch, deck, walkway, and driveway.