In this video, Mason Mark McCullough walks Kevin O’Connor through how to choose the best ice melt for your driveway and walkways. There are basically two materials to make surfaces less slippery in the winter: salt and sand.
Salt has a lower freezing point than water, so when you put salt on ice, it lowers the ice’s freezing point to about zero degrees Fahrenheit, which forces the ice to revert back to water. Rock salt is the cheapest of the ice melters and works fast.
Calcium chloride is another melt that Mark likes, it can melt at lower temperatures but it is more expensive. Mark points out that these salts aren’t exactly nature friendly, they can damage plants and nearby waterways when it runs off the concrete as it melts. Rock salt and calcium chloride burn pets’ paws and can be toxic if ingested.
For a pet safe and environmentally friendly salt option, use magnesium chloride. Unfortunately, it is the most expensive of the ice melters.
Sand provides no melting, just friction. Sand is abrasive, so when it’s placed on top of the ice, it increases traction and makes it safer to walk on a slippery surface immediately. Sand is only effective when it’s on the surface of the ice, so if another snowstorm comes, you will need to reapply the sand.
Mark shows Kevin his third category of de-icers, a sand/salt combination. Mixes are usually a good go-to because you can minimize the amount of salt in the mix, which reduces damage to walkways and the environment, while still providing some ice melting ability and traction from the sand.
While you can use salt on asphalt, it is bad for concrete. Salt can corrode the integrity of the concrete over time by exacerbating the freeze-thaw cycle, which is how potholes and cracks form.
Mark discussed a few different types of driveway and walkway de-icers. Both the rock salt and the sand were generic products that can be found at any home center.