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Break the Ice: A Guide to Winter Ice Melt
February 1, 2022
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As flurries start to build into serious winter weather, many businesses scramble to purchase ice melt – any ice melt. But here’s a tip, not all ice melts were made equal. While all ice melts work by lowering the freezing point of water, some have additional factors to consider. In general, there are five types of ice melts that you’ll see on the market, and which one is right for you depends entirely on what you are looking for as a business.

1. Sodium Chloride

This is the ice melt that most people use. It is usually sold as rock salt. Because it is the most popular type of melt, it is usually not very expensive. However, sodium chloride melt is not environmentally friendly and often the culprit of leaving behind “salt stains.” It works best in temperatures up to 20°F.

2. Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride melt works faster than sodium because when it is combined with water, calcium chloride releases its own heat. With all this double time, calcium chloride is usually twice as expensive as sodium. While calcium chloride is not nearly as bad for the environment as sodium, it is still not environmentally friendly. However, it is typically the best to melt ice up to -20°F, if that is your only concern.

3. Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride melt works by absorbing moisture. It typically works best when you apply a lot of it in large amounts. While it is still not entirely environmentally friendly, it is considered the “better” option then sodium or calcium melts. However, it does not work as well in lower temperatures like a calcium chloride melt would, working best in temperatures up to -5°F.

4. Potassium Chloride

Potassium chloride has one of the lowest impacts on environment. To give this perspective, potassium is one of the main ingredients in fertilizer. However, while being considered environmentally friendly, it does not melt ice as effectively in temperatures lower than 12°F. It is also somewhat expensive, depending on the price and demand of fertilizer.

5. Acetates

Acetates ice melt works similar to calcium chloride. It gives off heat as it melts. However, it does not have any of the chloride-induced corrosion. To back its effectiveness, it typically is the ice melts that is used on airport runways. This melt works up to -20°F and is still eco-friendly. It is considered much more expensive than other melt methods.


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