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Post an Article - MoreBlog Articles > De-Icer

Sodium chloride and related salts are the standard chemical de-icers.

Font Size:big - mid - smallnbyongshang   Release time 09-03-19 14:01     view:1188   coomment:0   source:

Some of us grew up with the widespread use of salt to melt roadway ice. Some of us didn’t. Salting and plowing of highways became common just in the 1960’s. Salt (rock salt, sodium chloride, NaCl, halite) is the cheapest of the ice melting chemicals. It works because it dissolves in any free moisture and makes a saltwater solution, which stays liquid at a lower temperature than plain water. Rock salt is effective on roads, where friction from the traffic adds heat. Salt works well on sidewalk ice too, as long as the temperature isn’t too far below the freezing point of water.

Concern over the safety and effectiveness of sodium chloride has led to the development of alternatives. Related chemical salts (calcium, magnesium, and potassium) work the same way sodium salt does. These products are often sold for the home market in handy 12 pound plastic jugs with exciting labels touting their benefits. They’ll cost a little more than salt, but pound for pound they melt more ice. You’ll have to examine the label to figure out just which salt is in the jug. Some of these advanced de-icers are mixtures of salts.

These four salt compounds are chemically very much alike. They react with ice, and the resulting salty solution drains away from paved surfaces. That’s good for pedestrian safety but can be bad for hard surfaces, plant material in the immediate area, local natural waters and your pets. The sodium and the chloride ions are the chemical bad guys in these compounds; calcium, magnesium and potassium are considered minor or major plant nutrients. You can minimize the damage of chemical salt de-icers by using them sparingly. Let the chemical melt down through the ice layer, where it will flow and release the ice from the pavement. Use enough de-icer to make the ice easy to remove by scraping or shoveling. Scatter or spread the removed slush to dilute the salts.

One important difference between chemical salts is the temperature range at which they can work. Product labels and literature can be misleading in stating effective temperatures. Sodium and potassium salts do not work well below 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, because they can’t find free water to begin dissolving. Magnesium chloride works better, down to about five degrees F. Calcium chloride is the best ice-melter of the group. It actually gives off heat as it reacts, making it effective down to 20 degrees F below zero.

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