The leaves have turned from green to the many varied shades of fall colors, the excitement of Halloween has passed and there’s frost in the air. As the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop below freezing keeping sidewalks and driveways clear of ice makes good safety sense.
Using a chemical deicer can help to minimize the battle with snow and ice. But deciding on which product to use can be confusing. Here are some pro’s and con’s of the common deicers:
Sodium Chloride (rock salt or halite) is the most widely used. It is inexpensive and readily available in large quantities. However it is not effective at temperatures below -9°C (15°F), and can cause corrosion to vehicles, damage to concrete, as well being the most harmful to the environment by contaminating the soil and harming plants and animals.
Other salts, such as Calcium Chloride and Magnesium Chloride, are not as damaging to the soil or vegetation and work better at lower temperatures. They are somewhat safer for concrete sidewalks. Some deicers are mixtures of different salts, so that you get some of the advantages and disadvantages of each chemical, but the best deicer is the good old snow shovel.