Ice Melt Safe for Concrete

ComboTherm Calcium Chloride Ice Melt

Concrete, especially concrete less than a year old, does not respond well to rock salt getting dumped all over it.  The truth is, most ice melts react with concrete to some degree, but some ice melts will react less with the concrete.  The problem is that salts react with the calcium silicate hydrates in the cement of the concrete.

The best option for concrete is often Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) or Calcium Chloride.  CMA is used as a corrosion inhibitor in some ice-melt blends, so no wonder a lot of people choose it when they need something gentler on their concrete. 

Calcium Chloride is less caustic on concrete than some of the other ice salts.  The benefit of Calcium Chloride is that is helps melt ice at lower temperatures than any other commonly available ice treatment. If it’s really cold, nothing else will cut through the ice like Calcium Chloride.

Some Helpful Advice on Deicers for Concrete

The biggest cost and negative environmental impact from deicers is when people use too much of it.  Using the right amount reduces corrosion, reduces salts in our waterways, and obviously reduces your cost because you use less.  Please avoid over-salting.

Before you go spend big money on something like pure CMA or Calcium Chloride, most people find rock salt with corrosion inhibitors protect your concrete just fine.  Our Safe ‘N Sure has CMA in it to help avoid corrosion as well as Calcium Chloride to make it work at lower temperatures, but it is made primarily from rock salt, which keeps the cost down.

Finally, there are some concrete treatments you can use to strengthen your concrete making it more resistant to corrosion with added options like making your concrete more slip resistant.

What are Deicing Chemicals?

various ice melt chemicals

What are Deicing Chemicals?

Deicing chemicals are any chemical used to remove ice…but they aren’t as bad as you think. Rock salt is a “deicing chemical” and you likely use rock salt all the time, you just call it table salt.

So why is it called a “chemical?”  Well, Wikipedia says “a chemical substance is a form of matter having constant chemical composition and characteristic properties.”  Regular old table salt is therefore a “chemical.”  So, when you hear people using “deicing chemicals” they are usually applying a mixture primarily of glycol for planes or a type of salt for roads and sidewalks .

A type of salt for sidewalks? You mean there is more? Yes, there are several different types of salts used for deicing. The most common is rock salt or sodium chloride. Other common salts used for deicing are calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium chloride.

Are Only Salts Used for Deicing?

No, you can find non-salt chemicals used for de-icing too. For example, for deicing sidewalks and streets, you may see CMA, Sodium Acetate, and other products used. When it comes to deicing airplanes, usually the mix is made primarily of propylene glycol or ethylene glycol, which are environmentally friendly chemicals that are also used in anti-freezes.

How do Deicers Work?

Deicers just change the melting temperature of water. What we are doing is keeping the water as a liquid at a lower temperature preventing it from being or becoming dangerous ice. Just about anything in water can lower the freezing temperature to something lower than 32°F, but certain chemicals are more cost effective to do the job.

It is also true that certain chemicals are more appropriate for certain applications. You obviously don’t want to dump a lot of salt on an airplane to remove snow and ice from wings. Your local restaurant will also continue to use alcohol, and not salt, to make their tasty, freezing cold drink or spiked slush. Rock salt is the primary chemical used on roads because it is easy to spread over large areas and is about the cheapest product available for eliminating ice.

Do all Deicing Chemicals Perform the Same?

There is about a 40°F difference in lowest working temperature between rock salt (15°F) and calcium chloride (-25°F), which is a huge gap when it comes to winter temperatures. When you get to temperatures below -25°F, there are not any chemicals that are really cost effective as a deicing chemical for roads and sidewalks.

Airplane deicers can go to even colder temperatures. For example, Dow UCAR PG ADF Aqueous Solutions properly prepared can melt ice to about -63°F (though because of required buffers, it doesn’t actually get used that low).

So that, in a nutshell, are what we call deicing chemicals.

Ice Melt Comparison Chart

ComboTherm Calcium Chloride Ice Melt

We created a handy ice melt comparison chart of the most popular ice melts (see below).  Descriptions of the characteristics are below the chart.

We did not add “blends” on the chart.  Blends are rock salt mixed with another ice melt chemical.  Blends retain the characteristics of the chemical mixed with rock salt, just in a less potent form, usually at a substantial cost savings.

Ice Melt Comparison Chart

Minimum Effective Temperature = This is the minimum temperature the chemical will work at.  Any colder, and the ice melt won’t melt the ice.

Exothermic = Some ice melt chemicals produce heat (exothermic) when they come in contact with the ice.  Exothermic ice melts work fast, often melting ice twice as fast or more compared to rock salt (using a 20°F temperature for the baseline).

Contains Chlorine = Chlorine tends to be more caustic on concrete than non-chlorine chemicals.

Corrosiveness = This is a relative measure of how much this chemical degrades concrete (creating pitting, spalling, and general degradation of your concrete).

Environmental Friendliness = This is a relative measure of how friendly to the environment the ice melt chemical is.  There is disagreement about what makes an ice melt “friendly,” but some chemicals are less harmful in higher concentrations.  Please note, small amounts of any of our chemicals are “friendly” and not harmful, while too much of any chemical can negatively affect plant and animal life.

Dust Inhibitor = Some chemicals are more ideal for dirt or gravel roads.  They are “hygroscopic” (they attract moisture from the air) which helps keep dust out of the air.  These chemicals also help improve compaction, keeping dirt roads firmer and less prone to degradation.

Residual Effect = Some chemicals like to “stick around.”  Rock salt will run off with the melted ice to the drain, while others do a better job of staying on the pavement, and therefore will often still be there for the next snow or ice fall.  These chemicals are particularly good for pre-treatment and use near entryways.

Calcium Chloride vs Calcium Magnesium Acetate

snow & ice salt treatment

Two popular ice melting products are Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) and Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA).  These products can be used instead of rock salt for your ice removal needs and we wanted to compare the two. 

Which one is better?  They both have some strengths and which one to use will largely depend on what your specific needs are.  The best place to start is with their similarities. 

What do Calcium Chloride and Calcium Magnesium Acetate have in Common?

  • They are both are less caustic to concrete and asphalt than rock salt. In other words, they don’t destroy your concrete as quickly as rock salt will.
  • They are both pet friendly
  • They are both plant friendly
  • They both work well as a pavement pre-treatment, adhering to concrete or asphalt and preventing snow or ice from bonding to the pavement. This makes clearing snow easier and, with adequate amounts, should prevent ice from forming in the first place.
  • They don’t create a “runoff brine” that leaves with the melting snow. One application can sit on the pavement through more than one light snow.
  • They both can be mixed with rock salt or sand for spreading.
  • They both can be used in a brine solution to treat surfaces (brine is a salt-water solution that ice management teams sometimes spray on instead of spreading the product dry)
Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLC

What is Great About Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)?

  • There is absolutely no chlorine in CMA. Chlorine is the primary reason why deicers eat away at pavement and structures they come in contact with. CMA is about as corrosive as tap water. It has very low corrosive properties.
  • CMA has low toxicity to plants and animals and is completely biodegradable.

What Are the Cons of Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)?

  • CMA only melts down to about 15ºF, the same temperature as rock salt.
  • It is not great at melting snow (rock salt works much better for this purpose). You will still need to plow or shovel even light snows if you only use CMA.
  • CMA works best as a pretreatment on pavement to keep snow from sticking or for melting ice.
ComboTherm Calcium Chloride Ice Melt

What is Great About Calcium Chloride?

  • Calcium Chloride melts ice down to -25º, which is colder than the working temperature of any other commonly available ice melting product.
  • Calcium Chloride works fast. Twenty minutes after application at 20º, it can melt twice as much as rock salt.
  • Calcium Chloride tends not to leave residue, so it is great to use in front of building entryways (similar to Magnesium Chloride). This fact means, when the snow tracked in dries, you do not get that grey film sitting on top of the flooring like with rock salt.
  • Calcium Chloride helps make dirt roads more compact.
  • Calcium Chloride helps keep dust down and is used as a dust treatment on roads, at construction sites, and in horse arenas (though Magnesium Chloride is more popular for this purpose).

What Are the Cons of Calcium Chloride?

  • There is only about 1/3 the chloride in Calcium Chloride compared to rock salt, but it still contains chlorine. The small amount of Chloride means Calcium Chloride has a slightly caustic effect on pavement and other surfaces. While it is much less caustic than rock salt, it is still harder on surfaces than CMA.
  • Calcium Chloride costs significantly more.

Should I Use Calcium Chloride or CMA?

If you need the more environmentally friendly ice melt of the two options, then you will want to stick with CMA. CMA is completely biodegradable and less expensive than Calcium Chloride.

If you need to melt ice or snow in temperatures below 15ºF, Calcium Chloride is your obvious choice. You also want to stick with Calcium Chloride on dirt roads since it does help with dust control and soil compaction.

To be sure, we love both products. They are both environmentally friendly when used properly and they both have a good value for the money you spend when used as intended.

Is Calcium Chloride Safe?

Peladow Calcium Chloride Pellets from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLC

Calcium chloride is generally considered safe for human consumption and for environmental control, but there is more to the story.  With normal use, you will be perfectly safe.  Yet, there are dangers in using Calcium Chloride in high concentrations in medical settings.  Calcium chloride in pure form can also cause burns, so you need to practice safe handling when you come in contact with high concentrations of calcium chloride.

Calcium Chloride is Safe for Consumption

Calcium Chloride is used as a food additive to make foods taste saltier, keep color, and to keep some foods firm.  You will find it in things like pickles where it helps with all three things, providing a yummy salty flavor while keeping those pickles a healthy green color, and retaining firmness in your cucumbers.

You will also find calcium chloride in some bottled waters in order to add hardness for more of a spring water flavor than a purified water flavor. 

Of course, everything has its limits, and while normal consumption is fine, you should expect problems with mega-doses of calcium chloride.  Just like you can have too much water, you can overdo the calcium chloride.

You also want to avoid straight calcium chloride.  Pure calcium chloride can create burns because it reacts with moisture to create heat.  Occasionally, when calcium chloride is given intravenously, it sometimes causes other problems as well.  The lesson is to not “self-medicate” with calcium chloride since you normally would not experience harmful levels outside of mega-doses or direct exposure to pure calcium chloride.

Calcium Chloride is Safe for Environmental Control

Our expertise is in calcium chloride used for environmental control.  It is used on pavement for de-icing and on dirt roads for dust control.  Just like with consumption, when you use the right amount of calcium chloride, you are fine and calcium chloride is considered safe, but if you use too much calcium chloride, you can hurt the environment.

Salting pavement with calcium chloride requires less material than rock salt and it is less harmful to vegetation than rock salt.  Unless you have very large concentrations of calcium chloride, your plants will be just fine.  An added benefit of calcium chloride is that it is gentler on concrete than standard rock salt.

Calcium chloride also helps keep dust down on dirt roads and construction sites.  Dust can pollute the air and make breathing more difficult.  Calcium Chloride keeps the dust down and can be a real help in keeping the air clean in dry areas.

You can learn more about how calcium chloride stacks up against other environmentally friendly deicing treatments on our other blog post.

What is Calcium Chloride? What is Calcium Chloride used for? Here is an Easy to Understand Answer.

Dowflake Xtra Calcium Chloride Flakes from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLC

Calcium Chloride Definition:

Calcium Chloride is a salt made up of one calcium molecule for every two molecules of chlorine.  You think, “Great! Why should I care?” Well, we are glad you asked because Calcium Chloride does some cool stuff with ice removal, food preservation, generating heat, and more!

Before we get to the really fun information, here is some other housekeeping information about Calcium Chloride:

What is Calcium Chloride Used For?

snow & ice salt treatment

Ice Removal

Ice Removal is the primary use of Calcium Chloride in the United States.  Here is why we are big fans of Calcium Chloride.  It is the “strong man” of ice removal.  Calcium Chloride is effective at melting ice at temperatures as low as -25°F. 

Calcium Chloride is also exothermic, a fancy word that means it creates heat when it comes in contact with water, helping it melt ice faster than any other ice melting chemical. 

How fast, you ask?

In the first 20 minutes after application at 20°F (-7°C), Calcium Chloride melts approximately:

  • 30% more ice than magnesium chloride
  • 35% more ice than rock salt
  • 130% more ice than urea
  • 400% more ice than potassium chloride

Calcium Chloride is also gentler on vegetation and a little less corrosive than rock salt (the “salt” we generally think of when the roads and highways get salted).

mag flakes ice melt for dust control from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited
Calcium Chloride helps keep dust down on dirt roads and in horse arenas.

Road Surfacing

You can use Calcium Chloride for treating roads to keep dust down because Calcium Chloride is “hydroscopic” (meaning it attracts water and it will pull moisture out of the air).  The hydroscopic nature of Calcium Chloride, and its “cousin” magnesium chloride, makes it suitable to spray on roads or to use in horse arenas. 

Both compounds will not only keep dust down, but they also help keep a dirt road firmer creating more stability and adding longevity to a dirt road.  Calcium Chloride on roads may need 50% less grading and 80% less grading materials, which saves a lot, especially on labor and equipment costs. 

Keep Food Tasting and Looking Good

Calcium Chloride is used to help canned vegetables stay firm and helps with color retention.  You will find Calcium Chloride in pickles, beer, and cheese making as well as in some bottled waters you buy at the store.

You can buy food grade calcium chloride and make your own mineral water.  Some people will add it to purified water along with Epsom salts then add carbonation for their very own version of sparkling mineral water.

Self-Heating Devices

Calcium Chloride is used in self-heating food devices and self-heating warming pads.  If you want hot food, but don’t have a way to cook it, calcium chloride might just save your day. It can also be used in self-heating warming pads. Now that is pretty cool.

Keep Things Dry

You can use Calcium Chloride as a desiccant (meaning it keeps things dry). As mentioned earlier, it is a hydroscopic compound, meaning it attracts moisture including humidity out of the air.  Since Calcium Chloride is generally considered food safe in the US and the EU, it is a safe desiccant to use when packaging items you eat like dietary supplements. 

Fire Extinguisher's like this one sometimes use Calcium Chloride

Other Fun Uses for Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride is used in concrete mixes to accelerate the initial setting. You will find Calcium Chloride in many fire extinguishers, as a thinner in fabric softeners, and as a drainage aid for wastewater.  Who doesn’t love Calcium Chloride?  Well, there are some hazards to it, so be careful.

Hazards of Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride can act as an irritant by drying out your skin, and it can even burn your skin (remember, it creates heat when it comes in contact with water). You can severely damage your body if you ingest high concentrations of Calcium Chloride, plus, if you consume too much, you can suffer from hypercalcemia or too much calcium.

As long as you take proper precautions to keep high concentrations off of your skin, and as long as you don’t ingest a lot of Calcium Chloride, you will be alright. 

We Love Calcium Chloride

Peladow Calcium Chloride Pellets from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLC

Our specialty is snow and ice removal products, so we love Calcium Chloride.  We see (literally) tons of Calcium Chloride used to keep people safe every winter, and it doesn’t have all of the drawbacks of regular old rock salt.  If you want more information on Calcium Chloride options for ice removal or dust control, check out our ice melt products page where we have several different options.

Ice Melting Products

Dowflake Xtra Calcium Chloride Flakes from Snow & Ice Sale & Chemicals Unlimited, LLC

If you are looking for information on ice melting products, you have come to the right place since ice melt products is our specialty!  We not only sell it by the ton, we use it for our sister company that handles snow and ice removal in the winter!

We are not going to cover all of our ice melting products here, but we wanted you to know what are some of your best options for different situations.  Like in the rest of life, each situation has a “best tool for the job,” and ice melting products are no different.

Even if you are here just to get familiar with ice melting options, you will find reading this page worth your time, so let’s get started!

Safe N Sure Ice Melt Blend from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLCBest All-Around Ice Melt

If you are looking for the “jack-of-all trades” of ice melt, look no further than Safe N’ Sure Ice Melt.  It will work well in most situations without breaking the bank.  If you are going to buy only one to two 25 pound bags and you can reasonable expect to encounter temperatures below 15°F, Safe N’ Sure is your answer.

Safe N’ Sure is primarily rock-salt which keeps the price down, yet it mixes in some of the other ice melt chemicals to allow ice melting down to -25°.  If you only wanted to buy one ice melt, this is the one to choose.  You pay just a bit more than plain rock salt, but you will be ready to attack your ice even in some really cold temperatures.

Peladow Calcium Chloride Pellets from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLCBest Cold Weather Ice Melt

Calcium Chloride, like in Peladow Calcium Chloride Pellets, penetrates ice 3 times faster than other ice melts because it creates heat when interacting with the ice (what we call exothermic action).  While Safe N’ Sure has a little calcium chloride in it, Peladow is 90% calcium chloride.

You will need less Peladow in the 0°F to -25°F temps than what you need of the Safe N’ Sure product in those frigid temperatures.  That means Peladow is a must for people who need to remove ice in very cold temperatures because nothing comes close to straight up calcium chloride when it is time to knock out ice at really cold temperatures.

A bonus of calcium chloride is it likes to stay in place to keep ice and snow from freezing on payment during the next storm.  Sometimes we will use it as a pre-treatment for one snow fall and find it is still working during the next snow fall.  It also tends to create less dirty footprints when you use it instead of rock salt near entrances.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate Ice Melt from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLCBest Low Corrosion Ice Melt

Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) is one of the least corrosive ice melts.  Did you notice there is no “chloride” in the name of this product?  CMA works to as low as -15°F and cuts through ice really well.  CMA is a better choice if you have concrete or iron surfaces to protect because it is gentler than what we see with the chloride-based ice melts.

CMA is generally considered safe for pets and plants unless you overdo how much you spread.  Just like ordinary fertilizer, if you use WAY too much you will burn your plants.  Like calcium chloride, it also likes to stay in place and acts like a pre-treatment for your next storm.

Best Pet Friendly Ice Melt

Many pet owners love PESTELL Paw Thaw Ice Melt, which is made of a sugar based, non-toxic anti-freeze called propylene glycol.  It cuts through the ice yet it is no more harmful than if your pet stepped in glycerin.

Rock Salt - Bulk Salt - Solar and Mined Rock SaltBest Cheap Ice Melt

If you live in snow country, you likely already know you can’t beat the price of rock salt!  You can normally buy rock salt for a small fraction of the cost of the other deicers.

Yet, you get what you pay for.  Rock salt only works to about +15°F, is corrosive to concrete and asphalt, and is harmful to plants and animals in larger quantities.  You often have to use more rock salt than the other ice melt products, so in the end, you are saving less money than you may hope, but it is still extremely inexpensive.

Rock salt is definitely ideal where winters are milder and where you do not need to use a lot of salt during the winter.  If you go through a lot of ice melt products, you likely will want rock salt for when it is warmer and to mix with other products when the temperatures dip below 15°F.

Are There More Ice Melt Products to Choose From?

You bet there are more ice melt products to choose from.  Not only are there products with different chemical make-ups, there are some types where you can choose the shape like flake, pastille, or pellets.  If you need help and you are in Maryland or D.C., or you are interested in buying pallets of material from us, be sure to give us a call and we can walk you through what the best option is for you.

How Many Snow Stakes Do I Need?

Driveway Markers Snow Stakes from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited, LLC

The short answer is, “You need enough to prevent damage to your plow and your property.”  Well, how many stakes is that?  Here is a list of all the places it is helpful to out your snow stakes and driveway markers.

Places to put Snow Stakes:

  1. Drive Entryways
  2. Edges of drives or parking lots
  3. At the edges of islands in your parking lot
  4. Curb and sidewalk locations
  5. Fire Hydrants
  6. Items to keep clear of snow such as safety equipment.
  7. Retaining walls short enough to be covered by snow
  8. Objects sticking above the pavement
  9. Utility connection boxes
  10. Catch and drain basins
  11. Drop-offs near the pavement like for drainage ditches and culverts
  12. Sensitive plants that don’t respond well to getting buried under snow or that don’t do well with salt in the soil

The common theme of the list are items you do not want damages and items that can damage your plow of vehicle, but let’s be clear on one thing.   You can stake anywhere you want as long as you are CONSISTENT, and the stakes help you PREVENT DAMAGE

Stakes are just a communication tool to let people know where things are at that can get hidden under snow, things such as the edge of a driveway.  As long as you know what the snow stakes mean and you put enough to prevent damage, you will do alright.

Snow Staking Guidelines:

  1. Use enough stakes to communicate where dangers can be hidden under the snow.
  2. Know your local laws regarding markers used at the end of a driveway.  As an example, Minnesota law dictates you put reflectors 12 feet in from the edge of a roadway’s shoulder.  Minnesota also recommends you avoid red or yellow reflectors next to the road.
  3. Use two stakes next to sensitive items.  Put one stake about two feet before the sensitive object and the other about two feet after the sensitive object, so the snowplow operator has a little wiggle room as they work to keep the snow away.
  4. Put markers in about a foot from the edge of the pavement giving the snow room to pile up without burying or bending the stakes.
  5. Use stakes as “goal posts” where you want the snow to be piled as an easy indicator of a snow pile safe zone without worrying about burying or damaging the stakes.  You can just “shoot for the goal” with all the snow.
  6. Snow removal companies should use different colors to signify different things.  When a person is on a site for the first time, they will have a color indicator as to what the specific hazard is while removing snow.
  7. Install stakes before the ground frost layer is thicker than 1/4 inch and before the first chance of a significant snow storm.  Some areas of the country may start staking as early as October.  If you have ever tried to stake late in the season, you will know it is not fun.
  8. Leave stakes in until the trees have pushed out their leaves.  Removing stakes too early could mean you get caught without them during a late season snow storm.
  9. It is better to use a stake (a fiberglass rod with 360-degree reflective tape) than a marker (a stick with a reflector on it) because a reflector can spin and if the reflector gets sideways, it can become hard to see.  Stakes are generally cheaper anyway.
  10. Resist the urge of engineering your own stake like a piece of wood with paint on it.  If someone has to remove snow for you, they will not recognize it as a safety marker for snow removal.  Snow stakes are so inexpensive you are better off just buying the fiberglass rods than creating your own.
  11. Get 5/16″ thick fiberglass snow stakes.  Thinner snow stakes are more likely to break on you.  Thicker stakes will be harder to insert into the ground and will leave more of a noticeable hole in the ground.
  12. Make sure your stakes are high enough above the ground to show above the highest likely snow accumulation.  You will never see snow get near your total winter snowfall as it compacts and, in most areas, there will be times of thawing, but you DO need them visible through the entire winter!
  13. Take note of where you wished you put a snow stake this winter for next year.  Whenever you have a new property, especially a large property, you will always find a place you wished you had staked this year.  Make a map of where the stakes should go for next year BEFORE you pull them out.
  14. Put stakes at radiuses or curves in at least three places.  Place the stakes at the beginning, end, and zenith of the curve.  You may want more stakes for a large curve.
  15. If you have a lot of stakes, get a stake installation tool to create a proper size hole using your feet and body weight to do a majority of the work.  In the long run, you will save a lot of time and energy by using a tool to create “pilot holes” for your stakes.
  16. For hard surfaces, such as concrete, you can drill or bore a hole and install a stake sleeve that will keep the hole open and ready for the stake from year to year.
  17. Buy your snow stakes in bulk from Snow & Ice Salt & Chemicals Unlimited LLC!  Yes, we couldn’t resist the urge to put in that plug.  We have several colors to choose from, and we can ship them to your door.

How Much Salt Do I Need to Spread on a Parking Lot?

Best Ice Melt Distributor - ice salt truck.jpg

So, you want to know how much salt you need for a parking lot.  We will give you the easy answer just below, but you need to know the correct answer is “it depends.”  So, look at the quick, baseline answer, then keep on reading.

Baseline Answer:

2.3 pounds or more per 1000 square feet at 30° pavement temperature for a light snow or icing.

Now that you have a baseline, you need to remember that weather conditions and the type of salt you use will change how much salt you need. 

The colder it is, the more salt you need.  Going from 31° to 16° can potentially TRIPPLE your salt usage.

The more precipitation you need to cut through, the more salt you need.  You need less for a ¼ inch of snow versus a ½ inch of ice.

If there is heavy icing, you will need more product.  How much more product depends on how much ice there is.

If you salt without plowing, you will need more than if you plow and then salt. 

Pretreating pavement with a brine solution can save you salt over pretreating by spreading rock salt.

Prewetting salt can reduce salt usage by as much as 30%.

Salt Truck Spreading Ice Melt

Treating pavement with brine is usually best for pre-treating and for ice.  Coarse salt usually cuts through snow compaction best and is often favored by contractors for knocking out snow. 

All other things being equal, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride will need less salt than straight rock salt.  Both magnesium chloride and calcium chloride have more melting power. For example, rock salt can only melt ice down to 15°F, but calcium chloride can work in temperatures as cold as -15°F.

In the end, you need to use your head.  As you get experience, you will get a better feeling for how much salt you need to spread for each situation.

A few other points to remember. 

Your biggest cost waster is overspreading by spreading more material than necessary or by placing material where it is not needed.  When you put too much salt down, not only do you waste money, but that salt has to go somewhere so you likely just tossed your money (salt) in the river.  Try to avoid overspreading. 

Some people find it helpful to buy salt that has color so that it is easier to see when you spread it to help minimize over-application.

Quality applicators will spread evenly saving you time and salt.  Don’t get a cheap spreader just so you can waste money on salt.  This rule applies to everything from V-box spreaders to small walk-behind spreaders.  Make sure you buy quality equipment.

Get your salt or deicing products from a good supplier.  If you buy salt from us, we can give you a great deal on products and we can answer some of your questions about using de-icing chemicals (like calcium chloride) or what to do in specific weather situations. 

The Wisconsin Salt Wise partnership has a handy little salt application calculator here.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the calculator. The state of Minnesota has a handy