How to Use Salt to Melt Ice On Sidewalks

Winter is here again and for many of us in the United States, this means snowfall and the ice that accompanies. Salt can be used as a natural and safe way to aid in the removal of ice to create safer walking environments for everyone. Here we will discuss how to remove ice from walkways and other surfaces in a time efficient way using these salt products.

What You Need to Know About Salt

Ice on sidewalk

Ice on sidewalks can be a hazard for everyone.

There are actually many different salt products that can be used to melt ice and some are safer for you and the environment than others. The most used salt compositions are calcium chloride or potassium and magnesium chloride compounds. Calcium chloride can cause damage to environmental surroundings and irritation to human skin while potassium and magnesium chloride are considered safer as they release less chloride as they dissolve.

Melt Ice with Snow

The first step when using any ice melting product is to shovel away as much snow as possible to use as little ice melting salt as you can into mitigate its effects on your surroundings. Shoveling snow can be difficult but it is important to remove as much as you are able.

After you have shoveled snow from the designated area it is time to apply the melting salt. Depending on the ice melting product that you are using you may notice thin patches of ice begin to melt. The salt may need to sit for a period of time before another layer is applied or ice is removed. The ice should be removable with a shovel or sturdy brush. If there are layers of ice that cannot be removed, reapplication of the ice melting salt will be necessary.

There are some important things to remember when using ice melting salt and you will save money and time if you keep them in mind. Consider purchasing ice melting salt in the months leading up to winter so that you will have a large quantity on hand when the first ice begins to appear. Buying larger quantities ahead of time prevents costly trips to the store.

Remember to choose the right product for the job before purchasing as there are differences between different salt compositions. Magnesium chloride, for instance, can be used to melt ice at low temperatures while potassium chloride can only be used when the air temperature is above 17 degrees Fahrenheit.

You should be aware of the effect that ice melting salt can have on its surroundings. Keep the salt away from grass areas and any metal nearby; the metal can begin to corrode and this is especially common on vehicles.

Image Credit: CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=464119

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