The sale of ice melt products continues to be big business each winter and with these sales come many questions. In this article, the top 20 ice melt buyer questions are answered by a small business that sells ice melt over the Internet.
1) Why should I use ice melt? ANS: Safety is the primary reason. Other reasons include damage prevention from heavy ice buildup and just plain convenience to keep traffic areas clean.
2) Why does ice melt contain chemicals other than salt? ANS: The added chemicals keep the ice melt from getting hard and adjust the minimum temperature at which the product works effectively.
3) Which ice melt product should I use? ANS: The customer is the best person to make that decision based on their unique needs. Cost, environmental friendliness, weather pattern and area where the ice melt is to be applied all play a role in the decision.
4) What are my ice melt choices? ANS: You have two choices; Urea or Salt (contains chloride). Urea is used in lawn fertilizers, but as an ice melt it is sold in much higher concentrations so do not buy the comment that it “will not burn your lawn.” Salt can be Sodium Chloride (rock salt is 95 98.5% pure), Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride and/or Calcium Chloride. The different ice melt brand names often mix these salts in patented blends along with the added chemicals.
5) What is the least expensive ice melt? ANS: Rock Salt is least expensive but many companies offer various “economical blends” that will work well on your driveway and will be friendlier to the environment.
6) Why is the ice melt minimum effective temperature (MET) important? ANS: If you live in a climate where sub zero temperatures rarely occur, you might be wasting money buying an ice melt that works down to -25 degrees F.
7) What are the ice melts “METs”? ANS: Potassium Chloride +25F, Urea +20F, Rock Salt +10F, Magnesium Chloride -22F and Calcium Chloride at -25F. However, with the additional chemicals many manufactures can vary these temperatures somewhat for their patented blends.
8) Is a fast acting ice melt product always better? ANS: No. In areas where slips and falls is a greater concern, a fast acting product may be your best choice. These products often require a greater frequency of application, which can increase cost and risk of damage.
9) Which ice melt products are safe? ANS: All products on the market are generally safe when used per instructions. Both urea and salt will burn a lawn and may irritate the bottom of your pet’s paws. You should store the ice melt is a sealed area out of reach from pet’s and children.
10) Do ice melts contain any form of poison? ANS: No. However, if ingested by a person or animal it is recommended that you contact your physician (or veterinarian).
11) Which ice melt products are better for the environment? ANS: Blends with less Chloride are better for the environment but will be more expensive, especially if you want them to work at the sub zero temperatures.
12) What other concerns for safety and property damage should I be aware when using ice melt? ANS: Exceeding the recommended usage and/or heavy traffic which moves the ice melt to areas not intended can damage concrete, carpet, floors, wood decks in addition to vegetation.
13) What can I do to protect vegetation from ice melt applications? ANS: Follow package instructions and use the environmentally friendly products (more expensive) where the vegetation is a concern.
14) What can I do to protect carpets/wood floors from ice melt traffic? ANS: Vacuum and/or wipe up with a damp sponge any residue tracked on to your carpet/wood floor. Use rubberized mats in areas of high traffic during bad weather.
15) What can I do to protect my wood deck? ANS: Ice melt salts can penetrate the wood pores and cause early degradation as it re crystallizes. Therefore, it is not the best product for a wood deck. Sand and/or matting are better solutions. Wood sealers do offer some protection.
16) What can I do to protect my concrete surfaces from ice melt damage? ANS: Ice melt usage will increase the number of freeze thaw cycles, which increase the risk of concrete scaling on the surface. Never use ice melt on concrete less than one year old. Clean off slush as soon as possible. Use of concrete sealers will help also.
17) Can I use ice melt on my roof? ANS: Although ice melt is one option for roofs it is often not the best option. Ice built up on roofs is caused by excess heat loss. Correcting the heat loss or installing heating elements to prevent the ice buildup is a better preventative measure. Consult a professional roofer for guidance when removing ice from a roof.
18) Can I use ice melt on my brick surface? ANS: Ice melt products are not recommended on these surfaces.
19) Can I use left over ice melt for other purposes such as a water softener? ANS: This is not recommended. Ice melt will keep for the next year usage, it is less suitable for other purposes and it will require more clean up of the brine tank in softeners.
20) How can I best make my ice melt purchase? ANS: Individuals needing less than 100 bags (50 lbs each) per year should consider their local hardware store or shopping market. When the usage is greater, consider using the Internet to research the available ice melt products based on your needs.