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Four tips on using ice melt

According to a 2012-2013 Snow and Ice Management Association study, the average claim due to snow and ice-related slip-and-falls was $33,000. And if it was a worker’s compensation claim, the figure was $48,000!

When winter weather approaches, that’s the time to brush-up on your snow and ice treatment procedures.

Here are four ice melt tips, which may help.

#1 Choose the right type

There are two primary types of ice melt, based on whether they absorb or release heat on contact.

  • Exothermic deicers release heat to melt ice, work the fastest, and over a wider temperature range. Examples are Calcium and Magnesium Chloride. But Calcium Chloride releases more heat than Magnesium Chloride


EnviroThaw is a colored Exothermic deicer

  • Endothermic deicers work more slowly and over a narrower temperature range. They draw heat from their surroundings to melt ice. Examples are Potassium and Sodium Chloride (Rock salt). Yet Sodium Chloride works faster than Potassium Chloride

Typically, deicers that work faster and at lower temperatures, cost more. Ideally, buy the type that’s best suited for your normal temperature range.

Apply ice melt before precipitation starts or freezes.

#2 When to apply

  • Spread a light layer of ice melt on the ground before a storm hits, not atop piles of snow
  • If that’s not possible, apply it before precipitation freezes, as quickly as you can thereafter, or right after clearing pathways

Some experts recommend mixing ice melt with an abrasive like sand to increase traction and reduce the amount used.

#3 How much to spread

Applying ice melt with scoops or shovels almost always leads to wasteful excess and messy tracking into facilities.

Some types can burn and interfere with the feeding of plants and lawns. Some are not environmentally friendly as run off.

So follow package label application instructions and use a:

  • Walk-behind or hand-crank spreader
  • Colored deicer so it’s easier to judge the proper amount to apply

If the package is not available, apply ice melt in thin layers.

Too much ice melt, spread incorrectly.

One of the right ways to apply ice melt is with a walk behind spreader.

#4 Importance of clean up

Sweep up and throw out ice melt after use. At entrances, inside and out, use track mats and vacuum or mop them throughout a stormy period.

  • Depending on the chemical make-up of your ice melt, it could either leave a white powdery residue that eventually dulls floors – if not cleaned up – or an unsafe oily residue that can damage waxed or urethane wood floor finishes
  • Left on concrete and some asphalts, it can cause deterioration and cracking
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