If you are looking for information on the Best Ice Melt, you have come to the right place since ice melt is what we know! We not only sell it by the ton, we use it in our own snow and ice removal business!
Unfortunately, the telling you “best ice melt” is not an easy straightforward answer. The variety of ice melts are more like the variety of tools in your toolbox. You don’t use a hammer to take out a screw and you don’t use rock salt on glare ice at night when the temp has fallen to -10°.
So rather than telling you “the best ice melt,” we will tell you which one is best for which situations.
Best All-Around Ice Melt
If you are looking for a jack-of-all trades ice melt that will work in most situations without breaking the bank, we recommend Safe N’ Sure Ice Melt. 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.
Best Cold Weather Ice Melt
Calcium Chloride like in Peladow Calcium Chloride Pelletspenetrates ice 3 times faster than other ice melts because of its exothermic action (it creates heat when interacting with the ice). While Safe N’ Sure has a little calcium chloride in it, Peladow is 90% calcium chloride.
Nothing comes close to straight up calcium chloride when it comes to knocking 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
Best Low Corrosion Ice Melt
One of the least corrosive ice melts would be Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA). If you have concrete or iron surfaces you would like to preserve from the harsh effects of chloride-based ice melts, this is a great option. It works down to -15°and cuts through ice really well.
CMA is generally considered safe for plants and petsunless it is overused. 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 is no more harmful than if your pet stepped in glycerin.
Best Cheap Ice Melt
You can’t beat rock saltfor being cheap! 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 is corrosive to your concrete and asphalt, harmful in larger quantities to your plants and animals, and only works to about +15°. 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.
There are a lot of blog posts out there that tell you they have the “silver bullet” deicer that will melt snow and ice at low temperatures while at the same time be healthy for the environment. Sorry to tell you, there are no perfect deicers. Every single type of deicer currently on the market in large enough quantities will negatively impact the environment in one way or another.
Beyond the environmental impact, they all have the potential to corrode our roads (more so with the chloride-based products and not so much with the carbohydrate deicers) and they also don’t all work the same in very cold temperatures (sorry, but nothing beats out Calcium Chloride for breaking up ice in frigid weather).
There are three basic types of deicers out there, and each type has their own strengths and weaknesses. The three categories we will cover are chloride-based deicers, acetate-based deicers, and carbohydrate-based deicers.
Before we cover those, we should stress that the best way to protect the environment is to not over-salt. By reducing the amount of salt, you reduce how much of the deicer gets into our soil and into our waterways. You want to put down just enough deicer (or preventative anti-icing agent) to keep people safe without an ounce more.
Chloride based deicers are the most common deicers used in the United States and throughout the world with rock salt leading the way. Rock salt is the same thing as table salt, only in larger grains. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are also popular chloride-based deicers.
All chloride-based products are highly corrosive to metals and moderately corrosive to concrete. More importantly, chloride-based deicers are harmful to plants, moderately harmful to soil and waterways, yet they at least have little impact on air quality.
In other words, if you put enough salt on your plants, they are going to die. A little salt in the river won’t hurt anything, but after years of use, salinity starts adding up which can be toxic for aquatic life.
We can say that calcium chloride and magnesium chloride appear to be less harmful to the environment because they can help soil in lower doses by improving soil structure plus you need less of these two than rock salt to break-up ice. So we can say they are more “environmentally friendly” than other deicers to your soil and they introduce less chlorine into the environment because it takes less volume of either of these two deicers to do the same work as others, allowing you to use less deicing product overall.
Generally, most people do not spread calcium chloride or magnesium chloride by themselves because of the cost as compared to rock salt. Instead, most people will use them in blends with rock salt allowing for maximum impact while keeping costs reasonable.
Acetate-based deicers do not poison the ground and waterways with chlorine and in small amounts they can act as fertilizer. The key point is “small amounts.” Deicers like Calcium Magnesium Acetate (one of our favorites), Potassium Acetate, and Sodium Acetate are moderately corrosive, don’t hurt soil or the air in moderation, but in larger quantities they can be devastating to plants and aquatic life.
What happens is they create osmotic stress (water is pulled out of the cells) when found in larger concentrations in plants and they set off microscopic organism growth which steals oxygen and other resources from affected plant and aquatic life. This second issue is a similar to what happens when too much farm runoff gets into streams where you see a lot of algae growth, yet the fish may be oxygen starved.
Carbohydrate-based deicers are friendlier to metals and concrete but they do not have a whole lot of power to melt ice in cold temperatures. Carbohydrate-based deicers are made from beets or other fruits or vegetables and can be pricey for how little work they actually do to remove ice. Because these deicers have not yet shown a lot of value in cost versus the benefit, most people just avoid them altogether (which is also why we do not stock them). You are more likely to see these types of deicers as part of a blend then by themselves if you see them in the stores.
Carbohydrate-based deicers have a similar effect upon plants and aquatic life as acetate-based deicers. The sugars are going to spur the growth of micro-organisms which steal necessary resource for growth from plant and aquatic life. If you have every mixed in compost into your soil without having let the compost “cook thoroughly” or break down all the way, you may have seen plants you put in that soil struggle or even die. These carbohydrate deicers can have the same effect in larger concentrations. While bacteria break down the deicer, they use up nitrogen and oxygen, and if there is too much carb-based deicer in an area, plant or aquatic life can be killed.
You Wonder “What Deicer Should I Choose?”
There is no one right answer since there are pros and cons to every product. Again, the first step in protecting our environment is generally to just use less deicer. Apply only as much deicer as is necessary for safety. If you can, one option is to prevent traffic from certain areas, so you don’t have to apply deicer in those spots at all. Another option is to use deicer that has a bright color to it, so you will be able to accurately see how much salt you have actually spread.
In the end, the deicer for you will be what fits your personal choice and yet still removes the ice. One of our personal favorites is Calcium Magnesium Acetate for when temperatures are above 15 degrees. It is one of the friendliest deicing products available that is commonly found in the market.
When you have colder weather, then Calcium Chloride or a Calcium Chloride blend like Hot Melt are your best options because they can work in very cold temperatures yet it takes a lot less to get the job done (like 2-7 times less depending on the product you are comparing it to).
Commercial Ice Melt is essential for any serious contractor. You know that rock salt is great, but it just does not do the trick in all situations. Like when you get an ice storm followed by really cold temperatures, you need something that can cut through the ice today, not when the weather warms back up. This is where a large arsenal of commercial ice melts come in really handy.
Some of the best ice-melts are considered “hot melt.” The difference with hot melt is that it is exothermic, rather than needing heat to melt ice, it creates its own energy. This means that the hot melt works at much lower temperatures and can be really effective against ice.
Rock-salt is not going away any time soon. The inexpensive cost to get rock-salt in bulk makes rock salt the primary weapon of choice for melting ice and helping tackle snow. When the temperatures get really cold, most ice melts use a blend that is about 80% rock salt and 20% something else like magnesium chloride. The blend helps keep the cost down while the magnesium chloride starts the melting process and the rock salt finishes off the job.
If you are a contractor, you likely already knew all that. The problem becomes, where do you get commercial quantities of ice melt? Should you pay way too much at a big box store? Should you get it from a chemical supply company that primary sells cleaning agents and knows little about which ice melt to use when?
How would you like to buy your commercial ice melt from guys who started a company dedicated to commercial ice melt, guys that have experience pushing snow themselves?
At Snow and Ice Salt and Chemicals, Unlimited, you get the price you need and support from people who have experience doing your job. We always keep plenty of inventory in stock and during winter weather events, we keep the doors open and the lights on so you can keep serving your customers. We have several locations in Maryland and we ship to your location as well.
So if you need commercial ice melt or any other snow and ice removal products, give us a call or stop by today. We would be happy to serve your needs.
It is hard to think of winter in the Northeast without thinking of our friends: snow, ice, salt. Snow falls on a regular basis. Ice comes from ice storms or from melting snow. Salt follows the other two to keep us safe. The frustration for some people is, with other alternatives, why is spreading rock salt still the primary method for attacking snow and ice. We are glad you asked.
Rock Salt is “Dirt Cheap”
At about $50/ton for bulk rock salt for deicing, it is hard to come close to the cost of rock salt when it comes to fighting ice and snow. Some other products costs more than 10 times as much to produce compared to what it costs to mine and prepare rock salt for spreading. Don’t get us wrong, many contractors would be happy to spread the more environmentally friendly products, but their customers want the cheaper product. So in the end, it is the clients that say price is an important factor in which deicing product is chosen.
Brine Doesn’t “Cut-It”
Brine is great as a pre-treatment or on ice, but when you are dealing with a lot of snow, brine solutions and even some of the dry rock salt alternatives don’t seem to cut through the snow like a good spread of rock salt. When you have to load your salt spreader with one ingredient to work in the changing situations of a large winter weather event, rock salt continues to be a great, versatile product.
What About Rock Salt’s Bad Reputation?
Rock Salt gets a bad reputation not because it is evil, but usually because it is over-applied. Contractors that learn to apply the proper amount of salt save money, the environment, roadways, and the properties of clients when they use just the right amount of salt instead of going with the “more is better” theory. Rock Salt can be combined with other products to be less corrosive and to work in lower temperatures than it does when applied with no treatments. Leveraging the strengths of rock salt while adding the strengths of other products creates a real benefit where everyone can win.
SIMA has been doing a lot in the industry in order to help contractors know the best spreading methods to minimize use of deicing products, but also to explore how we can do even better in reducing any negative effects of rock salt. You can learn more about SIMA’s sustainable salt initiative here!
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