Q. Is there a difference in the types of ice melts on the market?
A. The simple answer is yes. Consumers have a vast array of choices in products available on the market. However, each product has its own benefits and shortcomings with a price point that relates to those results. These products include calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, sodium chloride (rock salt), and urea (carbonyl diamide).
Supermarkets, home centers and other retailers carry some or all of these ice melts; however, the specific needs for your property should be discussed with a professional with knowledge of how these products will affect the walkways and parking pads where they will be used.
Today, CMA is the most widely tested and used deicer of the acetate-based deicers. It’s commonly used at airports because it works so well and is much more environmentally friendly than salt-based deicers. CMA is a natural acid, soluble in water. It shares chemical properties with vinegar. It’s about as corrosive to your walkways as tap water. However, that may not be what’s best for your home.
The fastest-acting premium ice melt on the market, Magnesium Chloride Extreme 8300, works in extremely cold temperatures. The unique crystal shape provides rapid ice penetration and keeps product from scattering where you don’t need it.
Extreme 8300 is 100 percent magnesium chloride hexahydrate, which means it is gentle on vegetation and concrete when used as directed. This product is available in 8-pound jugs, 20-pound and 50-pound bags. (Melts ice to -15 degrees F).
The Safe Step Sure Paws is pet friendly, all natural and fast-acting. Best of all, it doesn’t irritate pets’ paws or skin, and clears driveways and walkways quickly and efficiently. This product is available in 8-pound jugs and 20-pound bags (Melts ice to -15 degrees F).
Safe Step #7300 calcium chloride is a professional-strength, heat-generating ice melt that generates heat on contact. This product melts ice and snow down to -25 degrees F and leaves no white residue, will not harm concrete, grass, shrubs nor plants when used as directed. It also uses 75 percent less per application as compared to other ice-melting products. This product is available in 9-pound jugs, 20-pound and 50-pound bags.
Do It Best Blue Ice Melt is a fast and effective ice melt. Corrosion inhibitors reduce potential damage to metal and melts down to -7 degrees F. Blue tint is added to easily identify where product has been applied. This product is safer when used as directed on air-entrained, cold-weather concrete that is at least a year old, but is not recommended for newly installed concrete walkways or driving pads. This product is available in 40-pound bags.
Rock Salt / Halte Standard 3300 contains optimally sized rock salt crystals for improved melting performance. It is economical, but its performance lacks the ability to melt ice when the outdoor temperatures are less than 5 degrees F.
Please be aware, however, that this material is corrosive and will slowly break down concrete and natural stone over time. It has also been known to cause flagstone to flack and crack. It also may cause damage to vegetation and shrubs when in direct contact.
Ecotraction ice grip is a green colored, all-natural volcanic mineral. It is non-toxic, safe to the touch and allows for children, pets and wildlife that comes into contact with it to not be in harm’s way. This product contains no salt, chlorides, chemicals or dyes, and grips to ice and snow. Rather than melting the ice, it creates a sandpaper effect and will not corrode uncured concrete or pavers less than a year old. This product also tracks less than sand and will not stain like salt. It can also be swept into the lawn in the spring for improved soil aeration, as well as water and nutrient retention.
Ecotraction ice grip slowly releases minerals back in the soil, keeping plants healthier and lawns greener. The most incredible characteristic of this product is that it works down to -58 degrees F and provides more coverage than ice melt.
This product is available in 7.7-pound jugs or 20-pound bags. An added feature of this product is that it absorbs oil and fluid spills that may have accidentally damaged your walkway or driveway.
With all the options available on the market it is best to consult with a professional.
Stuart Garber, president Garber’s Do It Best Hardware & Garber Building Supplies 718-948-9495 garbershardware.com