Have you had to shovel your driveway yet? Maybe not, but snow days are coming. Before long you will have your shoveling station ready to go near the door – boots, scarves, gloves, hats, and a heavy-duty shovel. But should your shoveling station include a de-icer? There are a variety of different de-icers that are available for purchase to keep you from slipping on your sidewalk or driveway, but it’s important to be aware of risks and damage they can cause before making your decision.
What is Ice Melt?
Ice Melt or de-icers are products used to melt ice from driveways, stairs, and sidewalks. Not only can they melt ice, but they can also provide added traction for walking or driving when necessary. Ice melt can make your winter safer and more manageable. In fact, ice removal is sometimes required for rentals or public properties.
There has been concern that de-icers can damage the concrete due to the chemicals that melt the ice. Most de-icers for concrete are chloride combinations, usually sodium (rock salt) or magnesium. Sodium Chloride is rock salt, and it can cause damage to plants and metals – it’s salt. Rock salt can be particularly corrosive. Magnesium chloride is a more modern and advanced compound for de-icing, and releases much less chloride than other formulas while also working at extreme temperatures.
Many contractors and homeowners worried that de-icers were harsh chemicals that would wear down and damage the surface of the concrete. In addition to the chemicals, the de-icers are often abrasive and could grind down the surface of the concrete. However, if your concrete is high quality mix then it should handle the chemicals of most de-icers without damage. You really only need to be concerned if your concrete is from a below average mix or completed by an amateur.
Preventing De-Ice Damage
De-icers may be generally safe for quality concrete, but that doesn’t mean that your concrete is immune to any de-ice problems. The first thing you need to do is look for damage on your concrete that will need to be repaired before harsh winter snow and ice arrive. Then find a recommended de-icer from any home supply store. Scatter it on your driveway to melt the ice and snow. Take time to avoid your grass or plants. Once the ice is melted, remove the salt from the surface of the concrete to minimize any damage or abrasions. You can shovel or sweep it from the driveway or sidewalk.