Posts Tagged ‘rock salt’

Big Differences in Ice Melters

Published by mrgrass on November 7th, 2014 - in Ice Melt

Ice melting products were designed with safety in mind as they are meant to keep surfaces clear of ice and help reduce slips and falls. Ice melting products are used before, during, and after ice or snow storms to reduce slippery and unsafe surfaces on walkways, driveways, roads and runways.

 
While the objective is clear, ice melting products come in a wide array of types and sizes, often with claims that require an advanced college degree to decipher! You have seen the bags claiming melting power down to -30? below zero 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.

 

Ice Melt can be easily used in a convenient shaker to keep walkways safe and clear of ice.

Ice Melt can be easily used in a convenient shaker to keep walkways safe and clear of ice.

 

 

Melting Power
Ice melts have one primary purpose, to keep 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. So the first thing to consider is the temperature range in which the product will need to work. Some inexpensive ice melts work well only to 15 or 20?compared to expensive products that can melt ice down to -70?. For my clients in Vermont and New Hampshire, I suggest using a product that is effective to at least 0 to -10?.

Corrosiveness
Due to the corrosive nature of many ice melt products, an equally important factor to consider is the degree of potential damage you are willing to accept on structural elements such as concrete and brick, as well as harm to pets and trees, shrubs and grass. And please consider the runoff into our waterways.

The corrosive nature of many ice melts brings me to the two main classes of ice melts, the chlorides (salts), and the acetates also known as (CMA).

Chlorides (Salts)
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. Chlorides are generally the most widely used and affordable under normal winter temperatures in northern climates. However, chlorides are generally the most corrosive on steel, brick and concrete and pose the most risk of damage to surrounding lawns or trees and your pets. The cheapest bag is not necessarily going to be the best buy or deal.

Acetates (CMA)
The second type of ice melts are the acetates, or CMA for calcium magnesium acetate. When blended or used alone, CMA has the least corrosive characteristic of any ice melt product, but are significantly more expensive than chloride. Acetates also have an active melting characteristic down to -70? below zero which makes them ideal very cold climates and critical uses such as airport runways. When acetates are blended with chlorides the result is superior performance, lower corrosive characteristics and lower price. The more CMA blended into the ice melt, the more expensive it will be.

 

Other Considerations
If you have pets, be sure to use a pet friendly ice melt blended with some CMA or potassium chloride. The risk is not only to the paws themselves, but if the pet licks their paws and ingests the product. 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.

 

Certain ice melts have dye in them for ease of application (so you can see where it has been applied) 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.

 
Chippers offers ice melt blended with CMA based on its overall versatility, safety, and cost. Our ice melt is available in convenient refillable 12lb shakers, a 50lb bag, by the pallet, and we deliver to local homes or businesses. For the latest pricing, just call our office or simply send me an e-mail by responding to this blog post.  We do not recommend rock salt because of the damage it causes to lawns and home landscapes when there are so many other better choices when it comes to ice melters.

 
Be Safe
Remember, no ice melt is 100% perfect, but each type has its advantage as it relates to use and temperature range. 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. Stay safe…the snow and ice are just around the corner.

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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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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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