There are three basic types of deicers out there, and each type has their own strengths and weaknesses: chloride-based deicers, acetate-based deicers, and carbohydrate-based deicers. The objective of all ice melt products is to reduce the freezing point of water and form brine. Deicers reach this goal in different ways and to varying degrees of success.
While there are no perfect eco-friendly deicers, there are better choices you can make. If you are concerned about our environment, it is crucial to remember the importance of only applying as much deicer as is necessary to keep people and pets safe! By reducing the amount of ice melt product, you reduce how much of the harmful chemicals get into our soil and into our waterways.
When considering the purchase options, it can be difficult to accurately weigh your choices. Unfortunately, you cannot expect similar performance and benefits from all types of ice melts. Learning the pros and cons will help set you up with the best means to get ahead in the snow and ice battle ahead.
CHLORIDE-BASED DEICERS: Chloride based deicers are the most common deicers used in the US with low-cost Rock Salt leading the way. Calcium Chloride and Magnesium Chloride are also popular chloride-based ice melts and are less harmful to the environment than rock salt because they require less product to do the same work. In larger concentrations, chloride-based deicers are harmful to plants, moderately harmful to soil and waterways, yet have little impact on air quality. All chloride-based products are highly corrosive to metals and moderately corrosive to concrete. Keep in mind, if you put too much salt on your plants, they are going to die.
ACETATE-BASED DEICERS: Acetate-based deicers do not poison the ground and waterways with chlorine and in moderate amounts they can act as fertilizer. Ice melts like Calcium Magnesium Acetate, Potassium Acetate, and Sodium Acetate are only somewhat corrosive to pavement, hardscaping and metal. With overuse, they can be very harmful by creating osmotic stress which pulls essential water from the cells of affected grass, plants and aquatic life.
CARBOHYDRATE-BASED DEICERS: Carb-based deicers are much friendlier to the environment but they do not have a whole lot of power to melt ice in cold temps. Carb-based deicers are primarily made from beet juice, molasses or corn syrup and can be pricey. They are more often found as part of an ice melt blend than by themselves. In larger concentrations, carb-based deicers can spur the growth of micro-organisms which steal necessary resources from plants, grasses and aquatic life.
Wondering Which Ice Melt Product to Choose?
There is no one right answer since there are pros and cons to every product. 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 are your best options because they can work in very cold temperatures, yet it takes a lot less product to get the job done.
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