What’s in your Ice Melt?
Ice melt products are not created equal. They are blended using numerous de-icing granules that work together to provide optimal melting performance. Each is formulated by manufacturers using 4 different chlorides: sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These salt components have positive and negative attributes. The percentage of each ingredient in any given ice melt blend dictating its quality, performance, and price.
The Difference in Salts
The base for the majority de-icing products on the market begins with sodium chloride. It has been the standard in the industry, the base for which all others are formulated because of its low production cost and is readily available. Sodium chloride works by absorbing heat and does not generate heat by itself. It performs well to relatively low temperatures and it activated by friction from tires and heavy foot traffic.
The lower temperature and quicker activating ice melt blends are associated with calcium and magnesium chlorides. They react faster, and at much lower temperatures than sodium and potassium chlorides. They draw in moisture from the surrounding air to create heat. The higher the percentage of calcium and magnesium, the faster they go to work, of course with the increase in percentages comes a higher cost.
There are three other components that can be found in many of the ice melt mixes on the market None of them offer very little in the way of melting performance but do offer other functions. While limestone has no melting qualities, it has been included for traction. It is slow to breakdown and mild on vegetation. Both urea and CMA (calcium magnesium acetate) have anti-icing products. They are typically used prior to a snowfall to inhibit the bond between snow, ice, and the surface.
The selection of ice melt products is highly varied and vast in choice. But you should ask yourself, what are you looking for in a product? Is it highly corrosive to metals? Will it harm my concrete? What about being safe for pets? None of the de-icing products will do all three equally. You have to decide which is more important to you. Ask your Beisswenger’s expert about which is the best product for your situation.
There are many de-icing products labeled as being pet friendly. But, the best way to ensure your pets safety is to use products responsibly. It is important to use as little of product as necessary, monitor your pet’s activities around the area of use, and minimize their exposure to the product.
Ingestion and exposure to large amounts of any chemical can be detrimental to the health of your pet. Many of these ice melt products are considered hygroscopic, because they draw in moisture from the air and surrounding environment. Prolonged exposure of the salts to your pet’s paws can dry them out and cause irritation. This can be easily be treated by cleaning off their paws with soap and water after walks and time spent outdoors.
And, while it is doubtful that your pet will continually ingest any de-icing product to the point of becoming ill, we suggest that you keep the container tightly closed and stored in a location where they do not have access to the product.