Top 5 Deicers: Salt Causes Damaged Pitted Concrete

salt vs snowLet’s face it, deicers used to melt the snow and ice every winter in Utah, may damage your perfect concrete. First, the use of de-icing chemicals actually increases the amount of freeze-thaw cycles of your concrete sidewalks and driveway. Also, deicing chemicals cause damage to concrete that has not been formulated, mixed, installed and/or finished by a professional company like Ryan Kartchner Concrete Construction.

It is possible to have the strongest concrete when it is moist cured and air en-trained. It also needs a minimum drying time of at least 30 days before it is subjected to the first winter freeze-thaw cycle and especially so in the Salt Lake Valley. That is why it is important to hire an experienced, professional concrete contractor like Kartchner Concrete before winter weather descends.

There are four primary salts used for de-icing with different characteristics. Rock salt is HYGROSCOPIC, meaning that it actually attracts extra water to it. So when ice is melted by salt, changing it into a salt-water mix, it seeps into the concrete with about 10% more water expanding causing hygroscopic salt damage.

Most melting formulas include chloride. Beware, chloride is a pollutant to streams, rivers and lakes. Chloride even causes metal to corrode. In certain combinations it will also disintegrate your concrete. If your Wasatch Front city uses a lot of salt on the roads make sure the snow melt doesn’t wash across your concrete driveway and sidewalk flat work ruining them.

pitted concrete


1--Sodium chloride, the most common de-icing salt is regular rock salt or sodium chloride. It is widely available and can melt snow and ice until the temperature drops to between 16 and 20 F. Below those temperatures the rock salt stops melting snow and ice. Rock salt also releases the highest amount of ecology damaging chloride when it dissolves.

2--Calcium chloride is another de-icing salt formed in small rounded white pellets. Calcium Chloride is a fast acting. It can continue to melt snow and ice as temperatures fall well below 0 F and resists re-freezing to a temperature of –25 degrees. It can cause skin irritation if your hands are moist when using it. If you use it, do so sparingly, concentrations of calcium chloride chemically attack the smooth concrete flat work causing pitting.

3--Potassium chloride is a deicing salt that available in some areas. The advantage is that it is not a skin irritant and does not harm vegetation. But it only melts ice when the air temperature is above 15 F. It may be combined with other chemicals to melt ice at lower temperatures.

4--Magnesium chloride, is the newest de-icing salt and the best of them. This salt releases about 40 percent less chlorides into the environment than either rock salt or calcium chloride. It is also less damaging to concrete surfaces. Magnesium chloride is less toxic to plants, trees and shrubs. It also does not leave a powder residue that is tracked into your home and possibly damaging the floors.

snow melt

5--The most damaging of all de-icers contain ammonium nitrate and/or ammonium sulphate. NEVER use these as de-icers! Please make sure your snow removal company is not using this toxic option to melt your ice at your commercial property either.

Be informed. Find out what is in your snow melt formula! If you don’t want to damage the environment and/or salts are not available, you can use sand to stop from slipping and sliding. It is eco-friendly and will not harm your concrete finishes.

What does Ryan do at his house? Ryan removes the snow and water from his concrete as soon as possible. He takes the broom to sweep the stairs and porch and shovels the walks right away after each snow storm. This is what Ryan Kartchner Concrete recommends for your concrete surfaces too!