What Rock Salt is Safe for Concrete?

Although we all know that snow and ice can create dangerous conditions throughout our properties, we also don’t want to create even bigger issues by using the wrong ice melting product.

In recent years, a growing number of home and business owners have become increasingly concerned about the effects of rock salt on concrete. But what problems can rock salt actually present to concrete, and what are some best practices for preventing ice while protecting your pavement?

This post will answer these and other questions so that you can make rock salt safe for concrete within your property lines.

What problems do people have with rock salt and concrete?

People began to question whether or not rock salt is safe for concrete when they started linking spalling with the use of the de-icer. After applying sodium chloride across concrete surfaces like driveways, sidewalks and parking lots, property owners would notice breakages and the appearance of small holes.

Through time, these damages were capable of leading to larger cracks and potholes that rendered the pavement unstable, and called for expensive repairs.

As a result, some experts began to proclaim that rock salt should not be used on concrete. This, unfortunately, left many home and business owners confused about how to keep their properties safe and clear from snow and ice without harming their pavement.

Why do these problems occur?

In order to understand why people have had trouble with rock salt, you must first know the basics of concrete composition and the chemistry of rock salt. When looking at concrete, it appears to be a solid and impermeable mass.

In reality, though, the pavement is actually quite porous in nature. This allows moisture to be absorbed into the concrete. Even though ice and snow cannot be absorbed in their frozen form, they can enter into the concrete after being introduced to an ice melting material. This is where problems can begin to arise.

Different de-icers have different freezing temperatures. Standard rock salt, for example, tends to work best in temperatures between 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit. Magnesium chloride, on the other hand, may be effective down to 0 degrees and below, whereas calcium chloride has been known to melt ice down to -25 degrees.

This is important to know because once the temperatures drop below the ice melt’s capabilities, the solution of water and ice melt that has been absorbed by the driveway will re-freeze. When the pressure of re-freezing exceeds the concrete’s compression strength, spalling is very likely to occur.

Is any type of rock salt safe for concrete?

Before you can determine if an ice melting product is safe for your concrete surfaces, you need to be aware of the typical weather patterns in your area. For regions where the temperatures don’t usually drop very far below freezing, sodium chloride can be used without any risk of damages.

Here in the northeastern states, though, we’re used to temperatures approaching zero and even dipping below that point. For home and business owners in this area, it’s usually better to consider other options. If the average lows in your area are at or above 0 degrees Fahrenheit, you could benefit from using a product that contains magnesium chloride.

Because many locales throughout the Tri-State area are subject to negative temperatures, though, calcium chloride is generally considered to be the rock salt safe for concrete in our region.

How can I further minimize the risk of damages?

Many home and business owners in the northeast may choose to utilize calcium chloride for melting ice, but that doesn’t mean that sodium chloride can’t be used at all.

Because rock salt is less costly than other options, some people are still interested in how it can be used safely. One of the best things that you can do is to have the driveway treated with a clear coating that can protect against the introduction of moisture into the pavement while still allowing the concrete to breathe.

Keep in mind that low strength and freshly poured concrete are typically the most vulnerable to the effects of rock salt, so plan accordingly for your specific needs. Finally, avoid overusing rock salt to minimize risk.

Another great way to ensure that the ice melt you use is completely safe for concrete is to discuss your concerns with a professional.

Our team of experts here at Braen Supply are very familiar with a wide range of de-icers, enabling us to make helpful recommendations, based upon your specific needs. We’re happy to set you up with a rock salt safe for concrete and for your pets, children and vegetation. We offer the lowest prices on all of our products. Our rock salt and other ice melting materials are available for pickup for bulk delivery to locations throughout NJ, NY and PA.