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Ultimate Guide to Salt & De-Icers: Expert Advice on Choosing and Using Ice Melters  

Published January 24, 2024 by Hamilton Builders' Supply

Winter brings a full set of challenges, with one of the most pressing being ice on driveways, sidewalks, and roads. That's why understanding the right way to use de-icers like driveway salt is important for those travelling to and from your home or business.  

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore various aspects of de-icing, from choosing the right product to best application practices. Whether you're a homeowner, a business owner, or just looking to stay safe during the cold months, this guide has got you covered with expert advice and tips.  

What Are De-Icers and How Do They Work? 

De-icers are chemical agents that melt ice or prevent its formation by lowering the freezing point of water. Common ingredients include salts like sodium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride. They work by disrupting the molecular structure of ice, making it easier to break and clear away. 

What Types of De-Icers Are Available? 

You'll find a range of de-icers, including rock salt, which is affordable but less effective at lower temperatures; calcium chloride, known for its quick action and effectiveness in extreme cold; magnesium chloride, which is less corrosive and safer for plants and pets, and environmentally friendly options like ProMelt which is natural and fast-acting.  

How do I Choose the Right De-Icer for My Needs? 

Consider the average winter temperatures in your area, the type of surfaces you're treating (concrete, asphalt, etc.), environmental and pet safety, and the specific challenges you face (heavy snowfall, frequent ice, etc.). 

When and How Should I Apply De-Icers? 

Apply de-icers before snowfall to prevent ice formation and after snowfall to melt existing ice. It's crucial to spread the de-icer evenly and not overuse it, as excess can be ineffective and environmentally damaging. 

Can De-Icers Damage My Driveway, Landscape or Car? 

De-icers, while effective, can sometimes be harsh on concrete surfaces, potentially causing minor damage like cracking or pitting. Additionally, they may impact nearby plants if you spread them too far. If not cleaned off, these chemicals can also affect the paint and other finishes on a vehicle. 

To reduce these risks, it's advisable to select less corrosive de-icing products and clean your car regularly during the winter months to remove any residue. As always, use de-icers judiciously to balance effectiveness and safety. 

Are Pet-Friendly De-Icers Available? 

Yes, there are specially formulated de-icers that are safe for pets. These are typically free from harmful chemicals like chlorides and are a better choice for pet owners. 

How Much De-Icer Should I Use? 

The amount varies based on the product and the severity of ice accumulation. Always start with the minimum recommended amount and increase only as necessary. 

Can I Mix Different Types of De-Icers? 

Mixing different types of de-icers isn't recommended as their chemical compositions may interact negatively, reducing their effectiveness and potentially causing damage to surfaces or the environment. Be sure to check the ingredients of the package or talk to a trusted supplier.  

How do I Store De-Icers Properly? 

Keep them in airtight containers in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture absorption and clumping. Also, ensure they're stored away from children and pets. 

Are De-Icers Safe for the Environment? 

While de-icers are essential for safety, they can pose environmental risks. Salt-based de-icers can lead to increased salinity in water bodies and soil, but overall, they aren't highly toxic. If you are worried due to a large driveway or a long winter season, choose eco-friendly options when possible. 

What Precautions Should I Take When Handling De-Icers? 

Wear gloves and eye protection, especially when handling chemical de-icers. Avoid direct contact with skin, and follow the manufacturer's safety guidelines. 

Can De-Icers Expire or Lose Effectiveness? 

Most de-icers have a long shelf life if stored properly. However, exposure to air and moisture can reduce their effectiveness over time. 

How do You Clean Up After Using De-Icers? 

After the ice melts, it's a good idea to sweep up any remaining de-icer residue to prevent it from being washed into waterways and to protect surfaces and vegetation. 

What Services Do Professional De-Icing Companies Offer? 

Professional companies offer a range of services, including supplying various types of de-icers, providing equipment for large-scale de-icing, and offering expert advice on the best practices for application and storage. 

Choose Hamilton Builders' Supply for Your De-Icing Needs 

If you're looking for reliable and effective de-icing solutions, come to Hamilton Builders' Supply. Our extensive knowledge and diverse product range have consistently met my winter safety needs across the region. Whether you need advice on the best de-icer for your driveway or are looking for professional ice-melting services, our team is equipped to assist. Come visit us at one of our locations to learn more and enjoy a worry-free winter.