Road salt is a necessary part of winter life in Ontario. It’s not just a matter of convenience, but one of safety. While there are no guarantees, correctly applying the right salt at the right time will lessen the chance of slipping, sliding or falling on the way to your car or mailbox. Choosing the right road salt to use can seem as tricky as navigating an icy walkway. How do you know which road salt is best? Here is a quick overview of the basic types of deicers and the advantages of each.
Treated salt as a deicer has a couple of advantages over regular rock salt (sodium chloride). While it is still sodium chloride based, it has been pre-wetted, which allows it to begin working more quickly. The additives also help to melt ice at much lower temperatures than rock salt. At the same time, treated salt is less corrosive than plain sodium chloride. Pre-mixed bags of treated salt are easy to use when you are expecting low temperatures and want something to work fast.
Treated sand is a mixture of sand with salt, typically sodium chloride. Other additives may be blended in. The sand provides instant traction for slippery surfaces; the salt keeps it working during freezing temperatures. In addition, salt assists with anchoring sand into the surface of the ice, making it more effective. Treated sand is good when you have concerns about traction or for places that are especially slippery. It will have to be reapplied if it is covered by new snow and ice.
Environmentally Friendly Ice Melters
Concerns about the environmental impact of deicers has led to them becoming more effective and safer. Recent research and technology has resulted in several varieties of eco-friendly ice melters. They tend to work well at very low temperatures and will have less impact on your landscape. Many of them are designed specifically to be safe around plants, animals and aquatic areas while also being less corrosive than regular salts.
One drawback with environmentally friendly deicers is they tend to be more expensive. However, if you live in an environmentally sensitive area, have animals roaming in the places you de-ice or want to be ecologically responsible in general, the extra cost is worth it.
For the typical homeowner, buying deicers in bags is the way to go. It’s convenient and allows you to easily try different deicers – for example, treated salt on your driveway and treated sand where you walk. For commercial properties or estates, you may want to consider buying in bulk to save money. Whatever your choice, it’s best to stock up on deicers before the first snowfall arrives. Plan ahead, and stay safe for the winter!