Posts Tagged ‘rock salt damage’

Five reasons to avoid rock salt

Published by mrgrass on December 10th, 2013 - in Ice Melt
People are seriously hurt by slipping on ice each winter

People are seriously hurt by slipping on ice each winter

There are five good reasons to avoid using rock salt as an ice melt this winter.  And the good news is there are so many better choices available to the landscaper and homeowner.  One of the worst reasons to use rock salt is the belief that because of the low price, it’s a great deal.  Nothing could be more inaccurate.  A 50lb bag of rock salt will treat 1,700 sqft or a driveway 85ft long by 20ft wide once.  A 50lb bag of our recommended Pure Melt Blue ice melt will treat the same driveway 3.5 times at the highest rate or 15 times at the lowest rate!  So, while the out-of-pocket cost for 50lb bag of rock salt will cost between $9 – $12 vs. a Pure Melt Blue 50lb bag delivered to your house for $25, the actual value is much lower. When purchased by the pallet (2,500lbs), the price per bag drops to $12.50; a landscaper’s dream comes true!

The second reason to avoid rock salt is the high melting point, which averages in the twenties to high teens, at best.  In addition to more effective melting, the reason to use ice melt in the first place, is the primary benefit to a lower melting point is less frequency of freezing and thawing on the surface.  The more freezing and thawing, the more damage occurs to the surface – patios, walkways, driveways made of concrete, bricks, pavers or other material.  The lower the freeze and thaw point, the less damage occurs simply as a matter of chemistry.  For example, Pure Melt Blue has a melting point of -10F, much lower than rock salt, and therefore more functional in cold winter climates.  While rock salt may melt during the day, when the temperature drops at night, freezing occurs and so does the likelihood you may fall on a treated surface.

Rock salt damage to concrete

Rock salt damage to concrete

The third reason to avoid rock salt, even though the first two should convince even the most skeptical consumer, is the potential damage to soil, trees, and shrubs.  Rock salt hardens soils and damages or kills grass, shrubs, perennials, and even foliage on trees. This damage is especially visible on evergreens like pines or hemlocks.  Dissolved rock salt in your soil actually creates a drought around the plant’s root system, drawing out water and hardening the soil, creating a hostile growing environment.  Environmentally speaking, rock salt is at the bottom of the ice melt list.  Most folks have seen the “reduced salt use” signs when entering a drinking water area on roads in New England because of the negative environmental impact of rock salt use.  Pure Melt Blue and other higher-end ice melts use different materials which minimize or avoid this type of winter damage. This same damaging effect on plants translates to harsh conditions for your pet’s paws as well.

Rock salt damages trees, lawns, and pet paws

Rock salt damages trees, lawns, and pet paws

The fourth reason to avoid rock salt and consider a more environmentally sound ice melt would be the lack of time release properties.  Rock salt simply dissolves and that’s it, one shot with one treatment.  As the ice or snow melts, the product moves in liquid form onto lawns, streets, or streams.  An ice melt like Pure Melt Blue has time release properties and as a result it hangs around longer, works better, and reduces the amount required for good results per application.  Since you are using less product, less material is likely to reach off target areas like streams or storm drains.

Rock salt may be cheap to use but the potential damage to your landscape is much higher

Rock salt may be cheap to use but the potential damage to your landscape is much higher


The fifth reason to avoid rock salt is the corrosive nature of the material.  We all know what salt does to our cars, it does the same to steel and rebar in concrete.  So, just in terms of potential damage, the properties of rock salt can cause harm to walkways, planted landscapes, pets, and waterways!  While you may think rock salt is a great deal, it is in fact the exact opposite; requiring more product, causing damage on multiple fronts, performing less and in the end, costing you the consumer more on many fronts. Using more sophisticated ice melts like Pure Melt Blue is the logical outcome after a closer inspection of rock salt.  Rock salt may seem inexpensive but is that price really worth the trouble?  You be the judge.

Ice Melt is designed for icy driveways

Ice Melt is designed for icy driveways

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Use high calcium lime on your lawn to reduce rock salt damage!

Published by JKeefe on February 28th, 2011 - in Ice Melt, Lawn Care Companies, Lime

Salt damage along a sidewalk

If you have been wondering what sort of impact so much snow will have on the average lawn come spring, switch gears and think of salt and plowing.  Unfortunately, where there is smoke there is often fire- where we have lots of snow- there has been plowing and salt use.  A winter like the one we are currently experiencing means rock salt is going down everywhere- especially on roads, parking lots, and sideways.  With so much rock salt use, the pure tonnage used during the winter means your soil will have problems this spring.  In large quantities, salt causes soil to harden and upsets the normal flow of liquid into surrounding plant roots like your lawn, tree, and shrubs.  Generally, a decent snow cover protects your lawn from the drying winds and low temperatures common to winter weather.  However, if large amounts of rock salt are used, foliage and plants are likely to suffer damage.  Visible damage will become apparent in April as the snow recedes to expose a seemingly lifeless landscape of brown.

The likelihood of a salt spray coming into contact with tree or shrub foliage increases dramatically with each passing snow or ice storm.  This fact is especially true if you live on a main road or one which has town services such as salting.   The resulting contact with a salt solution lifted up by passing cars can cause a reduction in cold hardiness of tree buds, especially evergreen needles like those on an Arborvitae.  In the world of grass, salt upsets the balance of water and the ability of it to pass into the root system.  The resulting affect of too much rock salt on a lawn is a drought like condition where ample water simply cannot be used- despite wet soil conditions or standing water.

The later in the season salt is used, the greater the damage.  Using ice melts low in chlorides, especially calcium or sodium chloride should be avoided due to their enhanced plant killing abilities.  CMA’s or blends of plant friendly ice melts are much less harmful and while they may not avoid all damage, greatly reduce the amount likely to occur.

To help offset sodium chloride (rock salt) in a lawn or soil area, use high calcium lime to displace the sodium by leaching with adequate amounts of spring rain/snow melt.  Although not a miracle cure, the chemistry works out pretty good versus using gypsum which only further acidifies the soil environment.  If you plan on liming this year or have used too much rock salt, have your lawn limed with a high calcium lime- not a standard pelletized lime.  Turf loves calcium, a slightly acidic pH, and a softer soil improved by using only calcium based lime.  I only offer a high calcium lime for not only the aforementioned reasons but for other benefits to a lawn system.

With March on our doorstep, spring is more than just a thought, its reality.  Prepare for the plow and salt damage now before the opportunity passes as early spring fades into Memorial Day weekend!

Plow damage can be most upsetting

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