Alternatives to Ice Melting Rock Salt

De-icing material is critical to keep on hand to prevent unwanted injuries. However, using the wrong type of de-icer could injure more things than you would suspect.

First of all, common salt can ruin your new or old concrete driveway or the walkway. What it does is pit the cement, and the pits get larger and larger until water collected in those pits freezes and cracks the cement. I saw a new cement patio deck last year get completely ruined by using calcium chloride, or common rock salt, to melt ice.

There are better choices than rock salt, including Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, and better yet, Calcium Chloride. All of these have great ice melting abilities and won't injure the concrete surface. Again, avoid using sodium chloride.

There is an added benefit of purchasing anything other than rock salt. Plants and rock salt don't get along. Salt will injure most landscape plants, whereas the Magnesium, Calcium and even the Potassium form of salt will actually benefit plants because they all add needed plant nutrients.

One more thing to remember is that when the temperature goes below around 15 degrees, most salt melters stop working. So then, you need some type of grit on the ice to keep the pathways safe. Sand works great, but you might want to consider limestone grit. It can be bought at your local feed store, as growers grit used to fed chickens. That's called growers grit.

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