Winter is upon us and now is the time to start gathering your winter preparation tools, such as ice melt. Need help figuring it all out? This post will tell you everything you need to know about ice melters!

There are 2 basic classes of ice melter chemicals: sodium chloride based or calcium/ magnesium chloride based. Sodium chloride based ice melt, also known as rock salt, is the least expensive, but also the least effective at very cold temperatures. Rock salt loses its melting ability below 20 F. It is safe for use on asphalt, but can be very damaging to concrete surfaces, either poured or pavers. Rock salt can also damage plants or lawns that are near to the application sites.

Calcium chloride based ice melt are very effective at colder temperatures, are much safer to use on concrete, and cause much less plant damage. They are also more expensive per pound than sodium chloride based ice melt but because it’s more effective, you will actually use less of it.

Everything You Need to Know About Ice Melt - Patuxent Nursery

Now that you know what kind of ice melt to buy, here are some helpful tips for using and storing it:

Be Prepared
The best time to think about ice melt is BEFORE you need it. Buy your supplies ahead of time so that you have it when the bad weather begins.

Be Proactive
Ice melt is more effective if the surfaces are pre-treated before icing occurs.

Be Safe
Wear appropriate protective eyewear and gloves and only use the recommended amount.

Be Effective
The proper amount of any ice melt product to use is just enough to melt the ice. The single biggest cause of problems with ice melt chemicals is over application. Overuse is harmful to your walkways and it’s unnecessarily expensive. If you’re treating narrow pathways and walks, drop spreaders are most effective. Use a spreader with guards to prevent ice melt from going into areas that can be damaged.

Storing Ice Melt
Open bags should be stored in airtight containers and kept away from moisture, air and sunlight as this will eliminate clumping and hardening. Unopened bags are fine to store as is.

Remember, if you have asphalt, use rock salt (sodium chloride based) and if you have concrete, use calcium chloride based ice melt. Follow the simple tips above to have a safe and slip-free winter.

Patuxent Nursery carries both types of ice melt. Ask for it next time you visit! We also have shovels, spreaders and everything else you need for winter preparation!

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