Posts Tagged ‘calcium chloride’

Ice melt, what you don’t know can hurt your walkway or lawn

Published by mrgrass on October 26th, 2012 - in Ice Melt

Ice melting products were designed with safety in mind, they are meant to keep surfaces clear of ice and help reduce slips and falls.  Ice melting products are commonly used on roads before, during, and after ice or snow storms in northern climates.  Ice melting products come in a confusing array of types and sizes with claims that may seem to require a college education.

Rock salt is cheap but not pet, plant, or walkway friendly.

You have seen the bags claiming melting power down to thirty below while others tout being pet friendly or even safe for tree and lawn areas.  What is one to believe among all the hype and advertising?  Let’s break it down.

First, ice melts come in a variety of sizes from 5 to 50lb bags, shakers for ease of application, and even liquids for professional use at airports or municipal highways.  Ice melts have one primary purpose, to reduce slippery and unsafe surfaces on walkways, driveways, runways, or sidewalks. This is done by keeping water from freezing and/or melting ice already present.  These products are able to achieve this amazing task by lowering the freezing point of water at a known temperature.  For instance, some inexpensive ice melts work well only to 15 or 20 degrees compared to a high end material which would melt ice down to -70 degrees.  You need to look at the temperature range you plan on using your ice melt in as well as the application, such as use near plants, pets, trees, concrete, and brick patios to name just a few.  Remember, no ice melt is 100% perfect, but each type has its advantage as it relates to use and temperature range.

There are two main classes of ice melts, the chlorides (salts), and the acetates also known as (CMA).  The chlorides range from the cheapest ice melt, known as rock salt or halite, all the way up to Potassium chloride.  In terms of performance the chlorides melting power ranges from 20 to -50 below zero but are generally the most corrosive in terms of steel and concrete.  As you may imagine, the chlorides dry out pet paws and pose the most risk of damage to surrounding lawns or trees under heavy use.  The chlorides are generally the most widely used and affordable under normal winter temperatures in northern climates.  There are about four ice melt types in the chloride class but each can be mixed to various percentages to enhance performance while staying affordable.  Most ice melts you find in the hardware store are a blend of chloride salts giving them generally good performance, affordability, with the highest risk in terms of corrosion and not being plant or pet friendly.

The second type of ice melts are the acetates. When blended or used alone, CMA has the least corrosive characteristic of any ice melt product, but are significantly more expensive than chlorides ice melts.  Acetates also have an active melting characteristic down to -70 below zero which makes them ideal for airports and cold climates.   When acetates are blended with the chlorides the result is superior performance, lower corrosive characteristics and lower price. The more CMA blended into your ice melt, the more expensive it will be.

Certain ice melts have dye in them for ease of application while others pull water out of the air and become hard and unusable if not stored properly.  Regardless of the type of ice melt you purchase, improper use can cause undesirable side effects such as damaging your lawn or pitting concrete walkways.  Inevitably, your ice melt will track into the house as a consequence of extended use but the safety gained from avoiding a fall seems well worth the necessary clean up.

A closing word of wisdom and caution before you begin buying up ice melt by the bag or bucket this winter.  The cheapest bag is not necessarily going to be the best buy or deal since it will likely be rock salt, an ice melt with the highest melting point in the twenties to high teens and is the most corrosive.  If you value your walkway, patio, concrete garage floor, think twice before going with the cheapest bag.  If you have pets, make sure you try and use a pet friendly ice melt blended with some CMA or potassium chloride.  Even with a pet friendly ice melt, try and stick to the recommended amount of product and wash off or clean your pets paws if out for an extended period of time before he or she licks them and potentially has an adverse reaction.  And as a final note, ice melts prevent accidents and can create a safer outdoor environment during winter months, so be sure and do some research and pick the product that best suits your needs for ice reduction.

Chippers does offer ice melt in 12lb shakers for refilling or in a 50lb bag delivered to your home or business.  Chippers offers ice melts blended with CMA and natural based chloride ice melts for a variety of uses.  For bulk pricing by the pallet, send me an e-mail or respond to this blog post.  Thank you and stay upright this winter, no falling!

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Ice Melts vary wildly in performance, content, and cost

Published by JKeefe on November 17th, 2011 - in Ice Melt, Lawn Care Companies

Rock salt can spell disaster for trees & shrubs

Rock salt is the cheapest and most basic of ice melting materials but it has many drawbacks for the price.  Everyone knows the damage rock salt does to turf, tree & shrubs, concrete, brick, patios, steel and so many more materials.  Rock salt is the cheapest ice melt but generally functions in the upper teens to lower 20’s F.  Rock salt will do plenty of damage to concrete, patios, grass, trees, and shrubs when exposed to the briny solution as it soaks into the soil.  Once spring arrives the moist, salty soil actually creates a drought condition around root systems resulting from the use of rock salt.  Although rock salt is a cheap ice melting product, the replacement damage of beloved tree and shrubs far outweigh its regular use.  Surprisingly enough, many folks still buy rock salt by the ton due to its “perceived” value as it relates to the price per bag.  For a few dollars more, many other ice melting products are available with much less impact to the environment and landscaping materials such as brick, slate, and concrete.

Rock salt melts more than ice, it eats your vehicle and damages your landscape

Calcium chloride is a serious ice melting product that works at extreme low temperatures (-25 f), only found in New England on rare occasions.  Unfortunately, calcium chloride is a very harsh chemical that requires the use of protective equipment such as gloves to protect against burning exposed skin.  Calcium chloride is also very expensive, which brings into question why it would be used over other available products.  Storage is important because unless the bags are sealed and kept dry, calcium chloride “melts” into itself by absorbing moisture in the air- thereby coming unusable. Calcium chloride will corrode steel so makes it a poor choice for use on concrete sidewalks.  Most calcium chloride pellets are round and therefore roll on inclines unlike crystalline ice melters.  While other ice melts can provide physical traction after use, the round pellets of calcium chloride cannot provide any such benefit.  Calcium chloride is labeled on the bag as a severe irritant to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.

There are many environmentally friendly ice melting materials on the market.  Unfortunately, because ice melts are not regulated by the Federal government, an associated MSDS sheet can be most vague without exhaustive research.  After much research ourselves, we have decided to offer Natural Ice Melt as an alternative to the aforementioned products.  Performance must be balanced with cost and benefits depending upon the planned use such as on a driveway, near a valuable landscape or around pets.  So the next time you are staring at a pallet of ice melt at the Home Depot, maybe you will think twice before reaching for the lowest price bag because… are you really saving any money?

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Salt or Ice Melt?

Published by JKeefe on October 25th, 2010 - in Ice Melt

There are dozens upon dozens of ice melt products on the market.  Each will likely be a blend of salts or chemicals varying from pure rock salt (Halite) also known as Sodium chloride to the Acetates like Potassium acetate or Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA).  Most ice melt products will contain a blend of these and other ice melting salts.  Some salts are naturally occurring and are mined, purified and blended into ice melts yielding different melting temperatures and degrees of corrosion.  Some ice melters are much more expensive due to the ingredients and other valuable characteristics like Potassium acetate commonly used in airports.

Chloride salts and ice melters are among the most commonly used and come in a variety of blends, often utilizing some acetates to promote more environmentally friendly products.  Some ice melters will have 4 or 6 ingredients with varying percentages to achieve both results and provide an economical product.  Quite often, price is the only factor that consumers may look at when shopping for an ice melt.  Lets face it, its Saturday morning at the Home Depot and you have 4 or 5 pallets of ice melt in front of you- each priced differently.  The prices listed may start at $7.99 a bag and hit the top end at near $20 or more for pet friendly versions.  Unless you brought your chemistry book along with your morning coffee, you are likely to go with the price versus the content.  Grab a few bags and “get r’ done”!

As a rule- rock salt will be the cheapest ice melter and will also cause the most wreckage in terms of turf, tree, and pet paw burn or drying due to the high concentration of sodium.  Rock salt will track into your house or business, leaving an immense film of white.  By design, rock salt has a lot of freezing and thawing due to the freezing point.  This factor alone is unfortunate since it causes a lot of concrete and surface damage.  All of your remaining chloride ice melters have varying properties such as melting point, safety, and ease of use.  The price for these kinds of ice melts will be higher and some may even be mixed with an acetate for additional performance.  The most expensive ice melters will have higher percentages of acetates and specific chloride salts for premium performance.  Each brand has its own unique blend and touts specific performance with the listed price.

The benefits derived from natural ice melts include reasonable pricing, performance, and environmental friendliness as opposed to say pure calcium chloride that can melt ice to very low temperatures yet is not the most safe to use around pets or people.  In the case of ice melts, price can be an indicator of performance due to the contents in the bag.  Remember, ice melts are a blend of many kinds of salts and materials designed to complete a specific melting task at a specific temperature.  A great ice melt can destroy your patio pavers or discolor your driveway just as easy as it removes a slippery surface!

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