Snow and ice on roads, driveways and walks are some of the worst hazards of winter in the north. Manually removing all snow and ice is a lot of work and in some situations just isn’t practical. One thin layer of ice is all it takes to slip and twist an ankle, crack a rib or worse. The use of salt or liquid deicers is a virtual necessity in order to keep paved surfaces safe for walking and driving. Deicing fluids are newer products, and knowing whether to choose rock salt or liquids can be confusing if you have not looked into the pros and cons of each.
Bagged Salt Products
For the average homeowner, bagged rock salt is the most convenient, common and readily available ice removal product. For small to medium size walks and drives, it is easy enough to open a bag, scoop out some salt and spread it by hand. Salt – which is usually sodium chloride or table salt – is also the lowest cost deicer and, in most situations, works well to melt ice.
As the old standby, rock salt gets the job done efficiently and inexpensively. There are several varieties of salt and mixtures of products on the market. In addition to sodium chloride, potassium chloride is also commonly used. It is somewhat more expensive, but extends the time that melted ice stays liquid. To make it more cost effective, potassium chloride is often blended with sodium chloride.
Deicing fluids and liquid deicers are the new kids on the block; many homeowners are not familiar with them. That is OK, because in most situations, liquid deicers are more practical for large scale ice removal. Liquid deicing products are efficient and cost effective for commercial properties and roadways. They work particularly well if applied just before or during snowfall. As with bagged salt products, there are different liquid deicers available.
Some of the most common liquid deicers are sodium chloride based, with other chemicals added to maintain a liquid form. Other liquid products may use non-chloride salts and additives. Some of these mixtures are designed to be environmentally friendly and to reduce corrosion.
Though liquid deicers are usually applied with large mechanical equipment, for smaller scale properties they can be used with hand-held sprayers. If you like the accuracy of spray application and don’t mind paying a little more, you can use a liquid product around your home.
Deicer Product Quality
With many different brands and deicing mixtures on the market, quality and effectiveness can vary. Read labels carefully to make sure the ingredients are what you expect them to be. Also check application rates compared to the cost of the product. If you are not sure what product is best for your situation, talk to your local landscape supply company.
Given the importance of salt and deicer products, it makes sense to do a little bit of research and cost comparison. Get the best deicer for your home or property and stay safe this winter!