Winter is upon us once again. With the first snowfall and the beginning of the ice, many of you will be spending your time perusing ice melting products. however, did you know that some popular options, like rock salt, can damage your concrete driveway?
Each year, millions of homeowners accidentally damage their concrete through their de-icing practices. With each freeze and thaw, driveways, sidewalks, and other concrete surfaces take a hit from the most popular option for thawing.
Reading: What ice melt is safe for concrete
Fortunately, you’ll be glad to know that not only is there such a thing as concrete-safe ice melt, it’s also a better all-around product. This article will first explain why rock salt is not the product to use on your concrete surfaces, before going into the reasons why calcium chloride ice melt is a much better choice for your ice thawing needs. concrete.
why does rock salt damage concrete surfaces?
It is well known that rock salt (sodium chloride) is the most widely used de-icing agent in most of North America. however, using it could be detrimental to the concrete you are spreading it over. that is not because the product is corrosive to make it concrete by itself. rather, it has to do with the practical working temperature of the product.
While from a distance, concrete looks like a smooth, solid surface, it is actually covered in millions of tiny pores. during the hotter summer months, you can even observe this effect by pouring water on the concrete and watching the water run off.
however, those pores become a big problem in the winter when rock salt is used as the chosen de-icing product. if the ice and snow on the concrete stayed frozen, then there would be no problem. however, because having an icy driveway is incredibly dangerous to both you and your property, you’ll need to apply some form of antifreeze to make it safe.
The problem with rock salt specifically is its practical working temperature. While rock salt can technically work down to -6°F, it loses its efficiency between 15°F and 20°F (-6.67°C). The problem is that once the rock salt melts the snow and ice, it seeps out and saturates the pores of the concrete as described above.
While that process isn’t an issue in the summer, in the winter, temperatures can drop significantly below the temperatures listed above, causing rock salt and ice to melt and freeze. when temperatures begin to rise again, the expanding ice exerts internal, upward pressure that causes it to crack, crumble, and splinter. this process is known as “spalling” and it poses a real threat to the integrity of concrete surfaces.
With each cycle of freezing and thawing during the winter, the damage will get worse, and before long, costly repairs may be required. To make matters worse, rock salt is “hygroscopic,” meaning that it draws water toward itself. concrete saturated with frozen rock salt can hold up to 10% more water inside it, putting much more potentially destructive pressure on your concrete driveway.
However, there is no need to panic. There are a plethora of concrete-safe ice melt products available that work at much lower temperatures, reducing the number of freeze/thaw cycles in an average winter. the best on the market are calcium chloride granules.
Why is calcium chloride safe for concrete?
If you’re wondering how to prevent damage caused by using rock salt as a de-icing product, then calcium chloride is the best alternative. this deicer is much less damaging to the structural integrity of concrete because it has a practical working temperature that is much lower than that of sodium chloride (rock salt).
calcium chloride granules can work down to -25°f (-31.67°c). As a result, you will not only benefit from the fact that the product continues to operate at such low temperatures, but you will also prevent most freeze and thaw cycles from occurring. Very rarely will overnight temperatures drop below -25°F, limiting the number of times ice will expand and put pressure on concrete driveways and sidewalks.
With ice remaining as a brine liquid for most (if not all) of the winter season, you can be sure your concrete is protected from damaging freeze-thaw cycles. the same goes for other porous household items like pavers and roofing, and it also offers better protection for paved driveways.
One of the reasons calcium chloride is so effective is because it is an “exothermic” compound. that is, when a tablet comes into contact with water, the subsequent chemical reaction generates and expels heat. such are its heat-generating characteristics; If you were to drop a pound of calcium chloride into a gallon of water, the temperature would rise by as much as 30°F.
That’s why Calcium Chloride granules continue to work effectively at temperatures well below their counterparts. it generates heat and keeps ice in a liquid state, making it the best ice melt for concrete.
calcium chloride can be applied in much smaller amounts
Another advantage calcium chloride has over rock salt is that much less can be applied. therefore, it is much less likely to damage concrete. Gone are the days when you had to pick up a shovel to continually spread rock salt all over your concrete driveway before you noticed a noticeable difference.
Instead, just a few pounds of concrete-safe ice melt with calcium chloride can defrost your driveway in minutes. how is this possible, you ask? A large part of the reason it is so effective in such a small amount is because of its chemistry. You see, in addition to being exothermic, like traditional rock salt, calcium chloride is hygroscopic.
This chemical characteristic is a negative attribute of rock salt due to its much higher practical working temperature. however, it is a positive attribute in the case of calcium chloride. once the product is spread on a concrete surface, it actually attracts moisture and generates the heat we mentioned earlier. this process creates a domino effect whereby the warm “brine” solution created continues to spread out and melt everything in its reach. The result is that just one initial pellet can melt considerable surface area as it continues to assimilate ice and snow into the rapidly expanding brine.
Homeowners often cite price as the reason they continue to use rock salt. there are not two ways to do it; rock salt is the cheapest mass-produced deicer out there. however, given the amount you have to apply, you’ll likely end up spending a lot more on rock salt than if you were to use ice melt with calcium chloride.
To give you an example, if you were using conventional rock salt (sodium chloride), you would typically apply five pounds per 100 square feet of driveway. however, by using melted ice with calcium chloride, you would only use a fraction of that amount. Here at Green Garden Solutions, we recommend an application of between one and four pounds of product per 500 square feet for our Green Garden Chloride Ice Melt.
In real terms, that means that even if you followed our highest application recommendation (four pounds per 500 square feet), you would apply 6.25 times less product to de-ice your driveway or sidewalks. at the low end of our recommended application (one pound per 500 square feet), you would be applying 25 times less product. So yes, while calcium chloride is more expensive pound for pound, using this type of concrete-safe ice melt will save you a considerable amount of money.
There is another good reason why you want to apply less deicer, which is related to the chloride content.
melting ice with calcium chloride reduces the negative impact of chloride
Chloride is a necessary substance for the effective operation of de-icing products. however, it is not good for the environment. The problem is that there is no natural process by which chlorides are broken down, metabolized, absorbed, or removed from the environment. Chloride is toxic to aquatic life, adversely affects vegetation, and can also harm wildlife.
In a conventional rock salt compound, chloride can represent up to 60% of the ions. Chloride reaches ecosystems through runoff from rain, melting snow and ice, and through splashes and spray from vehicles traveling on treated road surfaces. the more rock salt you apply, the worse it is for the environment, so it makes sense to invest in alternative ice melting products that require you to use much less chloride.
There is another reason why chloride is an unwanted presence. when it comes into contact with certain materials, it can have a corrosive effect. As chloride-based de-icer melts ice and snow it comes into contact with, dissolved ice seeps into cracks in concrete and asphalt, where it can come into contact with reinforcing steel or necessary pipes. the chloride reacts with the iron within the metal and causes it to corrode (rust).
Given how much rock salt you have to apply to make it work effectively as a de-icer, it’s only a matter of time before you inadvertently end up corroding some of the critical infrastructure hidden under your driveway and concrete or asphalt sidewalks.
Lastly, by applying much less concrete-safe ice melt, you can be sure you won’t be leaving significant unsightly salt stains come spring. One of the most prominent problems with rock salt is the stains it leaves on your driveway after a harsh winter. however, by using calcium chloride granules, you can spread a fraction of the amount and avoid the same fate.
calcium chloride is the best ice melt for concrete
hopefully you can now understand that calcium chloride is a safe ice melt for concrete. it has a much lower risk of intensifying the freeze-thaw cycle like rock salt, since it can work at much lower temperatures. that the lower practical working temperatures prevent the melted ice from refreezing and putting pressure on the concrete, causing spalling.
The exothermic and hygroscopic nature of this concrete-safe ice melt also means you can apply much less of it, reducing the impact it has on the environment and lessening the severity of any underground corrosion.
Not to mention the added benefits, like the fact that it can melt snow and ice up to four times faster than rock salt, and you only need to use up to 25 times less product to clean the same surface as rock salt. . Sphere-shaped calcium chloride granules are also pet-friendly and leave no residue behind that you can trace back to your home.
so where can you buy concrete safe ice melt?
keep your concrete safe with green garden calcium chloride snow and ice melt
With the frigid winter temperatures already upon us, now is the best time to stock up on ice-melting supplies before they really take a nosedive. but this year, it’s essential that you stop using the traditional rock salt that you’ve always relied on in the past. chances are that by using it, you’re actually doing more harm than good, especially if you have driveways, sidewalks, and concrete pavers. It’s time for you to make the switch to the more effective, concrete-safe, and environmentally friendly calcium chloride.
With industry-leading practical working temperatures as low as -25°F, our garden-friendly calcium chloride snow and ice melt allows you to protect yourself from potential injury without causing unnecessary damage to your concrete. No more worrying about those freeze/thaw cycles, and you can rest easy knowing you’re not contributing to the destruction of aquatic life, vegetation, and vital underground infrastructure like pipes.
With free expedited shipping available on orders over $35 for a limited time only, why not stock up on your Calcium Chloride ice melt supplies before they run out?