Posts Tagged ‘rock salt’

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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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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