Road salt is the most tried and true method to tackle snow and ice. However, various strategies and solutions are implemented depending on the weather conditions and temperature. Today we will look at a few key differences between the two leading players in snow management: road salt and ice melt.
De-icing salt (also known as road salt) is used as a preventative measure before ice or snow falls onto the surface. It is also used as an immediate treatment after the fallen snow has been removed. It is essential to understand that salt does not melt ice or snow. Salt decreases the temperature of the water and keeps it in a liquid state. Therefore, inhibiting winters elements from freezing our paved surfaces. Salt also has the ability to break the molecular bond between the ice and the surface it has formed on. Therefore, allowing easy snow removal. Salt is cost-effective, can be purchased in bulk, is readily available, can be stored for future use, and is manageable to work with.
Ice melt is a blended product that creates a brine solution or heat. Ice melts are fast-acting and long-lasting, making them a valuable solution when immediate snow or ice removal is needed. It is also used as a preventative method. At FSI Landscape Supply, the top two best ice melt products we offer are Lake Effect Ice Melter and Sifto Xtreme Ice Melter. Lake Effect Ice Melter is excellent for large areas, easy to manage, does not cake, works in the lowest temperatures, and creates traction. Sifto Xtreme Ice Melter is an exothermic product and works well against -31°C temperatures.
Difference between composition
The first difference we would like to bring your attention to is composition. Salt comes in various forms, including sea salt, rock salt, and vacuum salt. Rock salt is the kind we see applied on our roadways, sidewalks, pathways, parking lots, and other paved surfaces. It is composed of minerals such as sodium chloride, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Ice melt contains sodium chloride and can include calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. Why is it important to understand the composition? The variety of compounds in salt or an ice melt blend will guide you to what temperature it can withstand and which will be most valuable or efficient.
The speed of melting action
Two main determining factors contribute to the speed of ice melting action. The amount of snow or ice needing to be cleared and the temperature. To assist you in determining which snow management method is best, follow this guide: water freezes at 0°C, salt begins to slow down its effectiveness at -9°C, and saltwater freezes at -18°C. Therefore, the colder it gets, de-icing salt will need to be combined with other snow management solutions. Ice melt will lower the freezing point of water as well. The difference is that once applied, the chemical reaction begins. Ice melt breaks the bond between the ice and concrete, preventing further build-up and allowing easy removal. Therefore, salt works efficiently and provides immediate traction. As the temperature drops lower than -9°C, ice melt may be used in combination and will work much quicker.
The last difference we would like to highlight is the difference between application methods. Dry road salt usually needs a liquid to dissolve and produce brine. Depending on weather conditions, snow removal crews will pre-wet the salt ahead of time to speed up the process. Pre-wetting the salt will also help control the bounce rate and keep the product in place. Ice melt is available in both liquid and solid forms. Solid form ice melt can be applied with your typical salt spreader, while liquid ice melt is used with a sprayer or tank.
At FSI Landscape Supply, we believe that de-icing salt is a staple product that all snow management professionals should maintain in bulk supply. Ice melt works differently and will help get the job done through the most challenging temperatures. Need more advice? Contact FSI Landscape Supply today. Our team will gladly assist you in choosing the best solution for ice and snow management.