TO MELT OR NOT TO MELT! – Homeowner Rx

This winter a big question coming in our front door has been, should I use ice melt or not use ice melt? Just what should you do? What kind of ice melter is safe for you, your pets, your grass and your concrete? Well, let’s find out!

Ice melter comes in many different strengths, with many different ingredients, with many different results available. Probably the biggest question we get from our customers is “Is it safe for my concrete?” And the answer is, well kinda, sometimes, it depends! Let me explain:

The rule of thumb is that if your concrete is less than 1 year old, don’t use ANY ice melter of any kind! Newly poured concrete needs plenty of time to cure. Applying an ice melter can weaken the concrete and make it more susceptible to future damage. We suggest brown sand to at least give a little traction to that slippery ice. And if the sun is out a bit that day, the dark sand can absorb a little bit of the sun’s warmth and maybe melt that icy glaze a little bit. It’s also a fact that you should be careful about putting ice melter on asphalt driveways that you have recently sealed. Some products can actually break the bond between the asphalt and that nice new black coating that you put down in the fall.

But here is a little ice melter education so you can figure out what is best for you.

All ice melters have some version of salt, also known as “chloride”, as an ingredient. It could be a potassium-based chloride, magnesium-based, sodium-based, or a calcium-based chloride. And just like the best grass seed is one that is a blend of different kinds, the same goes for ice melters. Some chlorides in ice melters are great at working down to a very cold temperature. Some do little damage to plants. Others can really mess with concrete, asphalt or wood decks. Some are less dangerous if ingested by your pets. And, some are quite inexpensive. It’s important that you buy the best ice melter that fills your needs. And it sure helps if you get it from a store that has staff that is educated to help you make those important decisions…like your local hardware store!

Our favorite ice melter is our private label version that has magnesium chloride as one of its main ingredients. It can work down to -7°, it’s ok with pets, and safe in most situations on concrete and grass. All at a fair price. Always a good choice.

But a few years ago, we came across a new product that actually mixes a distilled agricultural by-product with magnesium chloride and produces an ice melter that works to -20°, very safe for pets and concrete, and you can use 20 – 30% less and still get great results. Stop on in and check out Ice B’ Gone Magic.

Whatever you choose to use, make sure that you use the least amount of ice melter that you can, if possible don’t get it on your plants or grass, remove undissolved ice melter granules off your concrete or asphalt once it is not needed, and don’t forget…don’t use any on your new concrete!

Be safe!

Dave Umber
Dave Umber

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