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The different types of sidewalk salt and when to use them

Posted by Megan Ringwell on Feb 19, 2019 1:22:35 PM

Types of sidewalk saltWith several weeks of winter left and the transition to spring, salt could still play a big part in keeping your property safe. Part of being prepared is knowing the specifics of the deicers you use on your driveway or sidewalk. Each type of deicer has different melting properties and uses. Consider all factors when choosing the product that is best for you.

The most common types of ice melt on the market today are chloride-based.

  • Sodium chloride. Most commonly known as rock salt, is the most frequently used type of salt, probably because it is inexpensive. Working in temperatures as low as 20 degrees, this isn’t the most effective, and it’s known to leave a white power behind.
  • Calcium chloride is the most effective salt-based product because it works up to -25 degrees. Be careful when using calcium chloride. It’s known to cause harm to plants and grass, and sometimes it even damages concrete if used excessively.
  • Potassium chloride has been deemed the safer chloride-based option, working in temperatures as low as 12 degrees. It doesn’t work as well as other melting products, but people pick this product because it doesn’t harm vegetation.

Looking for products that aren’t chloride-based?

  • Sodium acetate works well in colder temperatures, as low as zero degrees. Its most common use is on airplane runways.
  • Calcium magnesium acetate works in colder temperatures as well. Along with sodium acetate, this product is considered environmentally friendly and less likely to harm animals or vegetation.
  • Ethylene glycol works in extreme cold, up to -58 degrees. However, this product is incredibly harmful to people and animals. Use extreme caution with this product, it can be deadly if ingested.

A considerable concern when picking salt is knowing what is and isn’t safe for children and pets.

  • There isn’t an entirely “safe” salt choice; all salts are harmful if ingested and can cause skin irritation. Even if not ingested directly, salt can be ingested in other ways. Remember, as you’re spreading salt out, you may also get it in nearby snow, which your children or pets may decide to eat.
  • Many salts say they’re “pet friendly,” but that isn’t always true. It’s imperative to look at labels when selecting salt – try to find a product that doesn’t have any warning labels. If something isn’t safe for humans, it isn’t safe for pets. Propylene Glycol-based products are generally the safest products to have around pets.
  • If you’re concerned about your children or pets, look for products that don’t contain salt or chloride. These are less harmful.
  • Try mixing salt with some sand to decrease the amount of salt you’re using this winter. Although sand won’t melt ice like salt, the combination will help increase traction.

As always, it’s vital to read warning labels and follow manufacturer directions when using these products. When picking a deicer, consider all factors and choose the product best for you and your family. There’s no such thing as being too safe, always wash your hands after using deicers and keep a close eye on children and pets.

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Topics: Home Safety, Weather

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