You’ve unpacked your winter clothes and have changed out your furnace filter, but have you started planning on stocking up on rock salt yet? The past few NJ winters have been characterized by extremely cold temperatures and high levels of precipitation.
Now, we’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but forecasts for winter 2015-2016 are looking similar. Because of previous rock salt shortages in our area, it’s very important to start purchasing your ice melting materials sooner rather than later.
With this in mind, you may find that you have other questions about the process of buying rock salt. What are your options and what can you expect to spend? How much should you purchase? You’ll find the answers to all of your questions below.
Choosing Rock Salt
When you visit your rock salt supplier, you’ll notice a whole range of different products that all come with their own unique set of advantages. So, how can you be sure which is best for your needs? To help you make your decision, here’s a quick rundown of the most commonly purchased ice melting materials:
- Halite – Halite is just another name for sodium chloride, and it’s the original solution to melting snow and ice. The material is readily available and is extremely affordable. Nevertheless, be aware that Halite can be corrosive to concrete, so speak to a professional about other options if you have any concerns.
- Ice Patrol – Ice Patrol is one of the most well recognized and affordable types of rock salt on the market. For many home and business owners, it’s a staple for getting through the winter months as it has proven itself to be very efficient and good at its job. Ice Patrol will melt ice down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit and won’t promote tracking and residue.
- Safer Than Salt – For many homeowners and schools, the safety of children is a major concern when selecting ice melt. As children romp and play in the snow, the last thing you want is for them to become ill after accidentally ingesting rock salt, or developing a skin irritation after exposure to it. This is where Safer Than Salt comes in. The material is comprised of calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) and is specially formulated to be less toxic and safer for use around little ones. The pellets are colored so that they’re easier to spot and direct children away from, if desired. CMA is also extremely effective and will work down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just about as low as the temperature drops here in the northeast. The Breeder’s Preferred blend is another great option for those interested in protecting both children and pets.
- EnvironMelt – Concerned about the impact of rock salt on your landscape or on the environment? EnvironMelt is another CMA blend that has been formulated to have a less harmful impact on vegetation. At the same time, it is less corrosive to pavements like concrete and asphalt, while also preventing the damages presented to surfaces like this via the harsh freeze-and-thaw cycles that occur.
- Calcium Chloride – Calcium chloride is known for being one of the most powerful ice melting materials available. It works very quickly by attracting water and rapidly creating a brine solution that starts to melt snow and ice. At the same time, its exothermic properties release heat to speed up the process even further. Calcium chloride can work in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit so that you never have to worry about switching to a different product because of a freak drop in temperature. It is most frequently purchased in crystal or pellet form, but calcium chloride flakes are great for hospitals, nursing homes and other areas where slipping on the deicer is a concern.
- Magnesium Chloride – Like calcium chloride, magnesium chloride is also exothermic in nature, helping it to quickly start working on snow and ice. It’s a very effective and affordable solution, however it stops working effectively at 0 degrees as opposed to -25. One thing to keep in mind is that due to popular demand in recent winters, magnesium chloride is on strict allocation making supplies very limited. If you’re interested in working with this material, the time to buy is right now.
Calculating Your Rock Salt Needs
Knowing which type of rock salt to purchase for your property is only half the battle; you also need to know how much of it to buy. Savvy home and business owners will stock up on enough rock salt to get them through the entire season, as this will yield the highest savings and make the purchasing process much more convenient.
This requires you to perform some calculations. As a rule, we suggest that you multiply the square footage of your coverage area by 3.1 to get the total number of pounds of rock salt needed. Next, divide the pounds required by 50 to see how many bags of ice melt you will need to buy. This will give you an accurate estimate that you can discuss with your supplier before ordering your materials.
Storing Rock Salt
After you’ve invested in your rock salt stash, you need to have a way to keep it safe until you’re ready to use it. Ice melting materials can’t be stored just anywhere. Although you may be tempted to stack it outside of your house or shed, this could be a fatal mistake. Deicers absolutely must be kept in an area where it will not come into contact with moisture.
Should water from melted snow or ice penetrate your bags of rock salt, it will begin to dissolve and will be of no use to you. It’s best to keep the ice melt up off of the ground at all times, preferably in a sealed container. Remember, too, that rock salt will start to become clumped when exposed to very cold temperatures, so keep your storage area at or above freezing.
Applying Rock Salt
Don’t make the mistake of trying to guess how much rock salt to spread across your driveway, sidewalk, or parking lot as this is only a recipe for disaster. If you don’t apply enough, you will create safety and performance issues as the material will not work as efficiently or effectively as intended.
Going to the other extreme and overspreading your ice melt is equally problematic. Applying more rock salt than is necessary will not improve or speed up its ability to melt snow and ice and will only cause you to waste your money. To avoid issues like these, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Where to Buy Rock Salt in NJ
Braen Supply is the leading supplier of rock salt and other ice melting products in NJ. We are committed to helping our customers find the perfect ice melting solution for their needs. As a result, we carry a large inventory of different products and are happy to speak to you about the benefits and considerations associated with each.