How To Choose An Ice Melt?
Ice melt is applied in advance of snowfall and ice, or applied on top of the already formed snow and ice to lower the freezing point of water. It checks the buildup of ice or breaks up already formed ice into liquid slush. Ice melt is a mix of sodium chloride and magnesium chloride and/or calcium chloride. Calcium chloride is basically considered as the best working ice melt for quick melting and persistent action. Ice melt is at times in the form of flakes. It works fast and is usually sprayed with a blue color indicator for ease of application.
This article explores various factors to consider when choosing an ice melt. Also, you are going to know the importance of choosing a good ice melt, how climate affects which ice melt you choose, when you should start using one and its cost.
1. Consider the climate in which your home is located
The first thing to consider when choosing an ice melt is to be mindful of the ice melt’s lowest effective temperature. Every chemical compound used in an ice melt has a different working temperature. Using an ice melt below its lowest effective temperature range will lead to reduced or no ice removal. For instance, applying an ice melt with a lowest effective temperature of 15°F in temperatures lower than 15°F will not allow the ice melt to remove ice effectively.
The chemical composition of an ice melt makes it either exothermic or endothermic.
- Exothermic ice melt: It includes calcium chloride, which releases heat when it comes in contact with water. Exothermic ice melt works well down to -25°F, making it suitable for very cold climates.
- Endothermic ice melt: It includes sodium chloride, which absorbs heat in the atmosphere. This ice melt works better in climates that have milder winters.
2. Consider what your building’s exterior walkways are made of to prevent corrosion from ice melts
Ice melts are available in an array of chemical compounds, making some of them better to apply on particular surfaces as compared to others. Some of them may corrode the surfaces of walkways. Consider your building’s exterior walkways when choosing an ice melt. Surfaces that can be damaged by ice melt if used inappropriately include:
Generally, you should be mindful when applying ice melt to concrete. Also, it is not advisable to use ice melt on concrete less than two years old at all. Salt-based ice melts can perforate through porous stone, freeze, leading to surface expansion that further results in flakes or cracks. Salts in ice melts can also cause grates, metal railings, and door frames to corrode.
3. Consider the specific needs or features of your facility
When choosing an ice melt to buy, consider the particular requirements or features of your property. For example, if you stay at a multifamily property with small children and pets then it’s best to use an ice melt that is labeled as non toxic. If you are looking for the safety of your landscape, choose an ice melt that is harmless to use around vegetation. Ice melt that is regarded as environmentally preferred is ideal for any property.
When using an ice melt, make sure to use the recommended amount. Overuse can be hazardous to vegetation and building materials, and it also increases costs. The best way to use ice melts is with spreaders along with guards to prevent them from being applied to areas that can be damaged. Drop spreaders are the most effective for narrow walks and pathways.
4. Comparing ice melts by form
When choosing an ice melt, also consider its form. Ice melts are available in solid or liquid form. The most popular form of ice melt is solid pellets.
- Solid ice melt acts by absorbing moisture from the top of the ice, percolating downward, and making a solution or brine to ease the bond between the ice and the ground surface. Solid ice melt is applied using a salt or sand spreader.
- Liquid ice melt is applied prior to snow or ice. As opposed to solid ice melt, liquid ice melt is already a brine. The brine prevents ice and snow from staying on the sidewalk or parking lot. Liquid ice melt is applied with the help of a push/backpack sprayer, or a tanker truck.
5. Search for an ice melt that is within your budget
The price of ice melt varies depending on chemical ingredients and manufacturer. As a whole, the following compounds are listed from most to least expensive.
- Sodium Acetate
- Potassium Chloride
- Calcium Chloride
- Magnesium Chloride
- Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt)
- Sodium Chloride Liquid Brine
Calcium chloride is the best budget-friendly option for facilities experiencing extremely low temperatures. Liquid ice melt is the next cost-effective option that is best in low temperatures.
Another way you can save is by buying ice melt in bulk, so you will always have enough ice melt whenever required. But before buying in bulk, make sure that the ice melt you choose has a long shelf life.
What is the importance of selecting a good ice melt?
It is important to choose the right ice melt from among the various types of ice melt available, considering all the above mentioned factors to help you melt ice or snow effectively. If you are not mindful when choosing the correct ice melt you may waste money and suffer loss since it may not work effectively, corrode various surfaces and may harm people or the environment.
Using the right ice melt has many benefits. Ice melts are affordable. Its ability to dissolve ice easily is indeed its most important benefit. They are safe for your plants and pets. Ice melts can keep you away from legal troubles. If you are a business owner, it is your responsibility to keep your area safe and prevent the possibility of injuries and lawsuits. Moreover, ice melts make walkways much safer for pedestrians as well as ensure a safe passage for motor vehicles.
However, it does have some risks. It can harm your vehicle, hardscaping, the environment, and also your family and pets. You have to be very careful and responsible when using an ice melt.
Why should we consider the climate before choosing an ice melt?
We have to consider climate when choosing an ice melt as choosing one below/above its lowest effective temperature range will lead to reduced or no ice removal.
Remember these tips when choosing an ice melt depending on climate:
- In extremely cold temperatures, choose an ice melt that releases heat or is “exothermic” as it will work better.
- A few exothermic ice melts can work really well in temperatures as low as -25°F.
- Cold temperatures limit the amount of moisture on top of ice, making it difficult for ice melt to soak up liquid to act.
- Exothermic compounds release heat themselves and this increases the amount of moisture on the ice, enabling it to produce greater amounts of liquid solution or brine to perforate through ice.
- In moderately cold temperatures, you can use “endothermic” deicers to effectively remove ice.
- Endothermic ice melt performs better in milder temperatures ideally 20°F and above.
- Instead of releasing heat, endothermic deicers take heat from the surroundings to melt.
When should we start to use an ice melt?
Ice melt should be applied in advance of precipitation freezes or right away after clearing snow. Moving the sloppy layer from walkways after the ice melt helps lessen concrete damage from absorption of water and excessive thaw/refreeze cycles. Increase in temperature, pressure, decrease in size, increase in surface area, change in chemistry/composition (salt), etc are factors that determine the timing of using an ice melt.
How much does an ice melt cost?
The price of ice melt ranges between $13 to $25 for a 50-pound bag. A few companies offer 40 pound bags to help balance the cost, in spite of the fact that it’s less quantity for the same price. Ice melt is also available in bulk.
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I like how you mentioned how frigid temperatures; choose an ice melt that radiates heat or is “exothermic” as it will perform better.
We plan to open up a shop that would probably require ice melt products, and we want to ensure we know how to choose one.
I will share this with my associates and see how this can help us choose and decide on the best ice melt to start our business.