How to choose the best ice melt for your home or business
A New England winter is notoriously cold and icy. Slipping and falling on ice is a high cause of ER visits every year, but this is easily avoidable with the use of one of our favorite winter products here at Koopman: ice melt. But what type of ice melt is best for your home? Does it even matter or they all the same?
If you need ice melt fast, head over to our locations page to find the Koopman location nearest you!
How do I choose the right ice melt?
Nearly all deicers on the market are made from one, or a blend of, five materials — calcium chloride, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, and urea. What makes these products different is how quickly they work and at what temperatures. This is determined by whether the deicer releases or absorbs heat upon contact with snow and ice.
Exothermic deicers, which release heat to melt the ice, work the quickest and are effective at a broader range of temperatures. For example, solid calcium chloride releases heat and is effective down to –25 degrees Fahrenheit. Endothermic deicers, which absorb the sun’s heat and use it to break ice down to liquid brine, work more slowly and are effective at a smaller range of temperatures. For example, solid sodium chloride absorbs heat and is effective down to about 20 degrees. The predominant chemical in a blended product will determine its performance.
- Sodium Chloride: Also known as rock salt, Sodium Chloride is the least expensive ice melt. It is effective down to temperatures of 20°F. It is one of the harsher chemicals on the environment in higher concentrations, corrosive to metals, and can be harmful to pets
- Calcium Chloride: A great choice for really cold climates, this solution is effective down to -25°F. The only drawbacks are that it is corrosive to metals, and in higher concentrations can leave a slimy residue.
- Potassium Chloride: Another good choice for colder climates, effective down to -12°F. Safe for pets and non-corrosive, meaning it is safe for plants and driveways.
- Magnesium Chloride: Effective down to -15°F, safe for pets and plants unless over-applied.
- Urea: Effective down to 15°F, safe for pets and non-corrosive, meaning it is safe for plants and driveways..
Whether it’s extremely cold temperatures or an environmentally sensitive locations, there is a deicing product to suit every need. For instance, newer “green” products are less harmful to driveways and vegetation. There are even deicers that are safe for our beloved pets!
Choosing the right ice melt will largely depend on two factors. How cold is it outside and the surface you are applying it to.
At Koopman we believe in being prepared for the winter, so we stock ice melt for every application and circumstance. Here are just a few of the deicers available at your local Koopman Lumber:
- Mr. Magic –A great blend of chlorides. This product is dyed orange to help you know when you’ve used too much, or too little.
- MAG – A great, well-rounded product. Effective down to -15°F, safe for pets, and leaves no powdery residue.
- Melt–Away – Another great blend product. This one is dyed blue to help with application.
- Pet-Guard – A urea based ice-melt. Safe for pets, even if they lick it!
- Peladow – A fast acting calcium chloride product. Easy to spread pellets that works well in the coldest conditions.
- Halite – Sodium chloride. Gets the job done inexpensively.
- Sure-Paws – Safe for pets. Awarded EPA’s “Design For the Environment” award in 2008.
Best use practices
Ice melt usage may seem fairly straight forward (OK, it is), but there are a few things to keep in mind as you use it to beat back Old Man Winter that will help get the most out of your ice melt.
- Always keep walkways shoveled. Snow quickly becomes ice when walked upon.
- Pretreat your walkways before a big storm hits. This will help to keep ice from forming, and effectively use less ice melt over the course of the winter.
- Store your Ice melt in a sealed container to prevent contamination.
- Mix in a bit of sand with your ice melt. This will not only help it to last longer, but it will help give traction to anyone walking on it.
Also, make sure to clean up! Tracked-in ice melt is unattractive and has the potential to damage floors. Sodium chloride ice melt (also called rock salt) leaves a white powdery residue that, if allowed to sit on the floor too long, can dull the finish. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride ice melts leave behind an oily residue that can damage urethane or wax finishes used on wood floors. The oily residue can be slippery on smooth floors and can attract dirt on carpets.
If never properly cleaned, either type of product may eventually harm wood floors by drawing out natural moisture, causing splintering, or lead to dry rot issues in carpets and rugs.
The best way to prevent ice melt damage is to prevent it from being tracked into the building. Use track mats both outside and inside all entrances and clean them with a mop or vacuum throughout the day. It’s a little extra work, but little clean up is nothing compared to the safety a dry, non-icey walkway provides.
Koopman Lumber: Your Winter Safety Headquarters!
As you can see, there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right ice melt, but we are here to help! At Koopman Lumber our stores are well stocked throughout the winter season with everything you need to keep your walkways clear and free of slippery ice and have friendly staff on hand to make sure you get the ice melt that is right for you. Stay safe this winter with Koopman Lumber!
Products will vary depending on availability