If you live in a cold climate and encounter heavy snowfalls, you will need solutions for melting ice in your yard and driveway. You can use a variety of chemicals other than the popular solution, salt. It’s important to choose a chemical that is suitable for the weather conditions and temperatures in your area and to use it properly. You should also be aware of the fact that certain chemicals may damage your plants or the concrete of the driveway. Other factors to consider when choosing an ice-melting product may include the environmental impact and the price.
1. Sodium Chloride
Sodium chloride is the scientific name for salt and is the least expensive ice melting chemical available. Salt may melt snow effectively, but it is only effective at temperatures higher than -9 degrees C, or 15 degrees F. This product has many disadvantages, including the fact that it will not be beneficial for the soil, causes damage to concrete driveways, and may destroy plants. Also, if you have pets and they ingest a high amount of deicing salt, they may get upset stomachs.
2. Calcium Chloride
Calcium chloride is more effective than sodium chloride when temperatures are below -10 degrees C. While calcium chloride is safer for soil and plants than salt, it may cause more damage to concrete. Unlike other ice melting chemicals, calcium chloride will attract moisture, so the surface will not be dry. However, this may also be an advantage, as the moisture will help to melt snow and ice instantly. Another downside of calcium chloride is the fact that it may have side effects, such as shortness of breath and coughing when inhaled.
3. Potassium Chloride
Potassium chloride is a more expensive product and will not be effective when the temperatures are extremely low. However, this chemical is more environmentally friendly and will cause less damage to concrete than all the other deicers.
4. Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)
Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is not very commonly used as a deicer, but has the advantage of being a safe chemical for soil and vegetation. This chemical will not work if the temperatures fall below -9 degrees C. Just like calcium chloride, CMA attracts moisture. Calcium magnesium acetate is safe for concrete, but may leave a slush after the snow melts, so many people avoid using this product.
CMA is more commonly used in conjunction with other deicers, to prevent refreezing.
5. Mixture of Chemicals
You may also find deicing products that contain a mixture of chemicals (e.g. amides, glycols plus chlorides), which may be applied in various conditions. When purchasing these, read the labels and see what the ingredients are, so that you learn about the possible plusses and minuses. You may also opt for corn based products that contain various chlorides, which may be safer for pets, soil and plants. Typically, the commercial products will be more expensive than the chemicals used for melting ice.