Snow typically starts falling across the U.S. in November, according to the National Weather Service. In 2010 more than one-third of the country was covered with powdery flakes by Thanksgiving. It’s during this time people flock to the store to pick up shovels and snow blowers. Yet, one of the most versatile snow safety tools consumers have in their winter arsenal is ice melt.
It’s easy to believe that all melters are the same, but much like you use one cleaning product for the bathtub and another for the countertop, you should also use specialty melters designed specifically for your environmental and safety needs. Choosing the wrong melter can not only waste time and money, it can cause unnecessary harm to sidewalks, driveways, pets and vegetation. Getting educated about how ice melt works and how to select the right one can be instrumental in having a fun and safe season.
Facts about freezing
Although many people believe ice melters damage concrete, the true culprit is the temperature. When ice melts naturally, it turns into liquid which runs down into the pores, or small holes, in concrete. When this liquid refreezes, it expands (similar to water in an ice cube tray that freezes) which may push apart the concrete and cause damage. The more times the temperature goes above and below freezing, the more times ice melts and freezes, leading to a greater risk of damage to concrete.
If protecting concrete is your number one safety priority this season, try Morton Safe-T-Plus. It contains hydroxyl ethyl cellulose (HEC for short) which actually helps form a protective seal to prevent melted ice from seeping into concrete pores, which can prevent costly damage to concrete walkways, driveways and steps.
Protect people, plants and pets
“Many consumers mistakenly believe all ice melt products are salt-free because sodium isn’t listed as an ingredient. The truth is, any chloride is actually a form of salt,” says Sara Matuszak, brand manager at Morton Salt. Sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride are all common ice melt ingredients which can be irritating to pets’ paws. For pet parents, Morton Safe-T-Pet provides a salt- and chloride-free solution that’s veterinarian-recommended to be safer for pet paws, skin and eyes than traditional melting salt.
Not one size fits all
Even in America’s snow belt, average monthly temperatures don’t typically fall below zero degrees Fahrenheit. A recent ice melt study from Michigan Technological University, a leading authority on snow removal and melter testing, found using only extreme temperature melters like calcium chloride was not necessary in most conditions. For smart melting, experts recommend having two types of melters on hand, one for normal winter conditions and one for extreme temperature drops.
In normal winter temperatures (5 F and above), an “everyday” melter that contains milder ingredients like urea and potassium chloride are best. These melters clear ice and snow but are safer for plants, pets and people than traditional melting salt. For the few occasions when temperatures drop drastically (below zero F) use an “extreme” melter that contains calcium chloride. These products can be less safe than the milder ingredients listed above, but they can be necessary to keep driveways and walkways clear and safe in extreme conditions.
No matter whether you expect to see one inch of snow this season or 100, read the label before you buy and seek out products with third-party performance validation to ensure the ice melt you bring home is up for the job. For more information, visit www.mortonmelters.com.