There are a variety of ice melt products on the market, and choosing the right one for your hardscape project can get confusing.
Get ready for the cold weather with the correct type of ice melt for your hardscape project. Various ice melt products are on the market, and choosing the best one for your home can get confusing. Below, our hardscape experts at Gasper Bucks County Hardscape and Building Supply walk you through the two different types of snow melt products on the market and the basics on which to use on your asphalt, concrete, concrete paver, or natural stone paving.
Rock salt is best limited to asphalt. It is popular because it is highly effective and is fairly inexpensive. It turns freshwater snow and ice into salt water with a lower freezing point. The downside is it can have a corrosive effect on concrete and often leaves behind a white haze that needs to be cleaned up later. It also has a very fast endothermic effect. This means it draws heat up very quickly and can cause pitting on concrete and spalling on natural stone due to the sudden temperature change. In addition, salt poses the most danger to nearby plants and soils as it increases the salinity in the soil and can cause physical damage or browning of evergreen foliage.
Blended Ice Melts
Like our Fast Melt, a blended ice melt is better for concrete, pavers, and sealed natural stone. Blended ice melts utilize potassium, magnesium, or calcium chlorides to melt snow and ice. (Fast Melt uses a blend of potassium chloride). Their thermal reaction is less extreme than plain rock salt and is highly effective in lower air temperatures, down to 5° F. Blended ice melts are more expensive than rock salt, but because they are more efficient, you should be able to use less product. They’re readily available and better for plants and hardscape materials.
Note: Fast Melt is available for purchase at Gasper Bucks County Hardscape and Building Supply stores.
Pet Safe Ice Melts
Many chemical ice melt products can be toxic if ingested by pets, and both ice melts, and rock salt can cause severe irritation to pet’s paws. If this concerns you, we recommend you try Safe Paw Ice Melter, a pet and earth-friendly ice melt. Animal professionals highly recommend it. This product is non-corrosive and safe for all surfaces, including natural stone. Pet-safe products also tend to be better for plants and landscapes. It is a little pricey but worth every penny if it means you are protecting your furry family members and your outdoor investment.
Note: While Safe Paw is NOT available at Gasper Bucks County Hardscape and Building Supply, it is available online and at various pet retailers.
Patience is the key to proper application. The biggest mistake people make that results in ice melt-related damage is applying their chosen ice melt product too thickly. It is important to scatter the pellets or flakes so that they fall like a light snow flurry (falling approximately 1/8” to 1/4” apart). Then, wait about 20 minutes, return outside, and reapply in areas where ice still sits.
Do not use products on un-shoveled and snowy areas. Taking up as much snow and ice as possible first reduces the amount of product you need.
It is also a good idea to pre-treat. Like the brining you see on the area roadways, pre-treating your key areas will help you stay ahead of the game.
Pay attention to the outside air temperature. Rock salt is only good for around 15° F. Calcium chloride works at the coldest temperatures, down to 5° F. Potassium and magnesium chlorides are effective in the temperatures in between. If the temperature drops below 5°, most ice melts won’t work. It would be best to spread some sand or grit for traction in those situations until the temperatures warm up.
Stock up now to prepare you for the first forecast of freezing weather!
Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.