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DE-ICERS & SNOW MELTERS

  Winter weather conditions often create a need for the application of de-icers to slippery sidewalks and driveways. Safety concerns take priority over potential damage to paved surfaces, lawns and landscape plants, which may result from the use of a de-icing product.
The most common damage to concrete is called spalling, when the concrete surface becomes pitted. Some de-icing products cause less damage to pavement, and sealing concrete can help prevent damage from de-icers.
  
One defensive measure used by groundskeepers to minimize damage to lawns from de-icers is the application of gypsum (calcium sulfate) to lawn areas bordering sidewalks, driveways and streets. These applications are best made in the fall of the year, prior to the onset of winter weather and de-icer applications.
  
Below is some information about the most commonly used de-icers.

  

Calcium Chloride

Effective temperature Down to -25F to -50F
Fast-acting at all temps, since it gives off heat as it dissolves.
Concrete Doesn't attack concrete chemically.
Vegetation Won't harm vegetation at the recommended rate.
Residue No powdery residue.

Note: Sometimes used in roof gutters to melt ice dams.

     

  

Magnesium Chloride

Effective temperature Down to 5F
Concrete Increases the number of freeze-thaw cycles, which can damage concrete from freeze-induced expansion. Gradually attacks concrete chemically.
Vegetation Environmentally safer than Calcium Chloride and Sodium Chloride, but does contain more chloride than other salty de-icers.
Residue Tracks less than Calcium Chloride.

  

 

Potassium Chloride

Effective temperature Down to 12F
Concrete Increases the number of freeze-thaw cycles, which can damage concrete from freeze-induced expansion. Doesn't attack concrete chemically.
Vegetation One of the safer de-icers around vegetation. Considered environmentally safe.
Residue Some white residue.
Notes Requires higher application rate.

NOTE:
Some suppliers offer a product combining Potassium Chloride
with Magnesium Chloride. LESCO calls their combination
product 'Lesco Melt II' and proclaim that it "ensures a fast
acting melt with long term performance."
  

Sodium Chloride - Rock Salt

Effective temperature Down to 20F
Concrete Increases the number of freeze-thaw cycles, which can damage concrete from freeze-induced expansion. Doesn't attack concrete chemically.
Vegetation Sodium is harmful to vegetation. Most commonly used de-icer because of its lower cost. Loses its effectiveness below freezing temps.
Residue Leaves a white powdery residue.
Notes Mixed with calcium chloride to improve low-temp performance.

    

  

Urea - Nitrogen fertilizer

Effective temperature Down to 15F
Concrete Increases the number of freeze-thaw cycles, which can damage concrete from freeze-induced expansion. Doesn't attack concrete chemically.
Vegetation One of the safer de-icers around vegetation. Considered environmentally safe.
Residue Some white residue.
Notes Less corrosive to metals and rebar since it doesn't contain chloride. Requires higher application rate.

  

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