Salt is salt, right? Well, not exactly — at least in the snow and ice management world. Many of our clients want to know what type of ice-melting products are most effective.
You might have read about different types of salt: Calcium chloride and sodium chloride are the two biggies for melting ice. But what does that mean for your commercial property here in Chicagoland? What’s the best ice melt product to use in each situation?
There's a nationwide ice shortage heading into this winter, and that will affect how you prepare your property. But we know that safety is the first priority for our property managers—that’s the whole purpose of hiring a snow contractor, to make sure the grounds do not pose a hazard during inclement weather. That’s why the type of salt used on your property matters.
We hope this article will provide you with the knowledge to ask informed questions of your snow and ice management company so you can be sure that your property stays safe this winter and uses the best ice melt product.
Choosing The Best Ice Melt Product: Calcium Chloride Vs Sodium Chloride
Sodium chloride is bulk, natural rock salt that is mined and applied onto pavement using truck-mounted spreaders. Sodium chloride is a dry product, and the ideal temperature for use is 12° F or warmer. Rock salt is “activated” by moisture, so when temperatures drop below that threshold, the product is ineffective.
Calcium chloride is a liquid material that is sprayed on pavement and can be used at temperatures as low as -13° F (and it can melt down to -25° F). Calcium chloride gets very hot, very fast — for a short period of time. It’s an instant melting solution, but it does not provide a long-term melt.
On the other hand, while sodium chloride takes longer to kick in, but it also lasts longer. Once it activates, it continues to melt ice for a longer period of time than calcium chloride. How much longer? Rock salt can take up to 25 minutes to melt snow in 25° F conditions. Calcium chloride works instantly.
When Is Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt) The Best Ice Melt Product?
Sebert Landscaping uses rock salt all the time in our snow and ice management program because of its long-acting character. If the temperature is warm enough, then rock salt is a solution.
That said, we like to pre-treat bulk rock salt at our facility with calcium chloride to improve its melting capabilities and improve the efficiency of the product. We can use 50 percent less rock salt and do the same ice-removal job when we pretreat bulk salt with calcium chloride.
When Is Calcium Chloride The Best Ice Melt?
Your commercial property might require the use of calcium chloride in certain areas, such as north-facing expanses of pavement. The ground will stay cooler because of less exposure to sunlight, and so calcium chloride will do a better job of melting these cold spaces.
Aside from use in low temperatures, calcium chloride is also ideal for pretreating pavement prior to a snow event. The product creates a barrier so that snow can be more easily plowed without snow pack. As snow is cleared from the property, the ice is already melting. We can use less ice-melting product to get bare pavement after plowing is done.
"Calcium chloride vs sodium chloride?" can be a vexing question for property managers, but we find that by using a combination of salt products available on the market, we can keep our clients’ properties safe and clear during even the most severe storm conditions.
Wondering what type of snow and ice removal program your commercial property needs this winter? Let’s talk more. Call us any time at (630) 497-1000, or fill out this simple contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.