Snow and ice are a hazard of NJ winters. In order to keep roads, driveways and sidewalks safe, property owners must make use of a reliable ice melting product. While traditional sodium chloride (rock salt) has historically been the most popular option, many people are starting to question its usage on concrete surfaces. Is there a better, safer solution? This post will discuss why you might want to consider working with a rock salt alternative, and how to choose the right type of ice melt to use on your concrete pavement.

Problems Associated with Rock Salt on Concrete

Rock salt has long been considered a wintertime staple for those living in colder climates. When the sodium chloride combines with water, it creates a brine solution that has a freezing temperature much lower than that of water. As a result, it’s effective in its ability to melt snow and ice and prevent new problem spots from developing. Unfortunately, though, using rock salt on concrete can be problematic.

Throughout the years, some people began to notice problems with their roads, driveways and other surfaces after rock salt had been applied. In some cases, the concrete would seem to weaken, resulting in potholes and similar issues. In other instances, the concrete would become corroded or discolored. It was determined that the use of rock salt on concrete was the culprit.

But what was the cause? Concrete is somewhat porous, and can be prone to small fissures. When rock salt is applied to concrete, any existing snow or ice will melt. Some of this liquid will find its way into pores or fissures. Because sodium chloride will begin to freeze at 25 degrees Fahrenheit, the water will re-freeze in the cracks on especially cold days or nights. When this happens, the ice will expand and create larger gaps, holes, and weak points. In addition to everything else, the rock salt may react with the concrete, corroding the surface and leaving a residue.

Since discovering these issues, many folks have made the decision to seek out rock salt alternatives for their winter maintenance needs.

Top Alternatives for Rock Salt on Concrete

Just because rock salt on concrete can be problematic doesn’t mean that your property needs to be unsafe and unprotected throughout the winter months. There are numerous alternatives to traditional rock salt which are very affordable and highly effective.

  • Calcium Chloride – Because NJ and its neighboring areas are so prone to extremely low temperatures during the winter, we recommend that our customers look for products which contain a high percentage of calcium chloride. Calcium chloride has the lowest freezing point. This means any snow or ice it melts will remain in liquid form, even when temperatures plummet. The result is that your concrete surfaces will be free and clear of slippery spots and you won’t need to worry about the harmful impact of repeated freeze-and-thaw cycles on your concrete. The product with the highest concentration of calcium chloride is Peladow Calcium Chloride Pellets. This particular ice melt can be purchased by the bag or pallet, and is very easy to spread and use. It contains more than 90% calcium chloride and works to lower the freezing point of water and to heat snow and ice exothermically at the same time. This makes it possible for the product to melt snow and ice 2-5 times faster than traditional rock salt. If you’re unable to obtain Peladow Calcium Chloride Pellets, we would also recommend Dowflake Xtra. This product contains 83-87% calcium chloride and also works quickly and in a range of extreme temperatures. Dowflake Xtra is ideal for high traffic areas where pellets or crystals could be a tripping hazard.
  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate – Calcium Magnesium Acetate is another reliable and safe alternative to rock salt on concrete. It has incredible melting power and exothermic properties. Those who choose to work with CMA-based products will also be able to enjoy options in terms of providing safe ice melting materials for use around children, animals, and pets. Safer Than Salt and Safer Than Salt Breeder’s Preferred are designed to work in extremely low temperatures without posing a safety threat to the most precious members of your families. The flakes are tinted to make it easy to see where the ice melt has been spread, and the product is less toxic to children and animals, should they accidentally ingest snow that contains the ice melt. In addition to this, the ice melt will not cause chemical burning or irritation in the paws of dogs and cats. Those who have concerns about the environment might also choose to work with a CMA-based product called Environmelt. This type of ice melt will quickly and efficiently take care of snow and ice without posing a threat to the vegetation throughout your property or harming the groundwater supply.

Choosing the Best Ice Melt

So which is the best alternative to rock salt on concrete for your property? Both calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate are excellent options in terms of sheer melting power. These two rock salt alternatives are capable of breaking down snow and ice quickly and will make sure that it stays melted. The liquid won’t re-freeze and create cracks or fissures on your concrete even on the coldest of winter days. Choosing between the two different types of ice melt, then, will ultimately come down to your personal needs and preferences.

If you need to create a flat surface for walking, we recommend that you work with a flakey ice melt like DowFlake Xtra. Those who have children will feel comforted by working with a product like Safer Than Salt which is intended to establish a safer environment for children to live and play around. Safer Than Salt Breeder’s Preferred offers the same benefit but is also suitable for those with pets and concerns about animals. If you take pride in living a “green” lifestyle, you’ll want to consider Environmelt. Narrowing down your unique needs and lifestyle objectives will help you to make the best decision for your home.

Once you’ve determined which type of alternative to rock salt on concrete is right for your home, we recommend that you plan on stocking up in advance. While rock salt is typically available throughout the winter season, more powerful ice melting products like calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate have been known to fly off the shelves and stores run out of stock when the winters are especially long or cold. We encourage you to talk with your rock salt supplier to discuss the size of your property and to determine how much material you’ll need to buy to get you safely through the winter.

Where to Buy Rock Salt Alternatives in NJ

Braen Supply offers a massive inventory of alternatives to rock salt on concrete. We carry products that are comprised of both calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate to ensure that you find the best fit for your property. Our materials are safe for use on and around concrete so you never have to worry about damaged pavement. Our ice melting products can be picked up at your convenience or bulk delivered to areas throughout parts of NJ, NY, NYC and PA.
Rock Salt Buying Guide