BUNZL Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies Blog

How to Use Ice Melts: Dos and Don’ts

As the weather gets colder, ice melt is a great way of ensuring that pavements and roads are accessible and free from ice. Ice melts work by turning ice or snow into a liquid solution (brine), ultimately breaking the bond between the ice/snow and the surface area.

How to Use Ice Melts: Dos and Don’ts

Endothermic ice melts like rock salt lowers the freezing point of the surface area, and exothermic ice melts like calcium chloride, sodium chloride or magnesium chloride react with the moisture in the ice to create heat. Ice melt is particularly good at preventing slip and fall accidents in winter weather conditions.

Taking responsibility for de-icing your paths and pavements is a good idea to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to avoid anyone slipping and injuring themselves. However, almost all ice melt products contain salts, and particularly abrasive salts can also cause damage to surfaces, potentially be harmful to the environment, resulting in burnt vegetation and corroded hardscapes.  

To avoid any accidental damage while still maintaining top winter safety practices, we’ve written a guide to use ice melt effectively and safely.

How does ice melt work?

Ice melt works by reducing the freezing point of water on the ground, meaning that ice will either melt, or that water won’t freeze in the first place. The chemicals inside ice melt are primarily chlorides, which means that they can be corrosive to concrete or metals.

Although some variations of ice melt are labelled as ‘environmentally safe’ or ‘non-corrosive’, these claims are not regulated. They may contain inhibitors, but they still contain the same amount of corrosive ingredients. If sodium chloride gets into the water supply, it can permanently affect freshwater, and there is no way to remove it.

Rapid Ice Melt

How to use ice melt

1.     Mix ice melt with sand

Mixing ice melt with sand or another abrasive will ensure that your supply will last longer when it’s applied directly to a pavement or path. The sand will also provide traction, meaning shoes and wheels have something to grip to.

2.     Clean it up

To make sure no harm comes to the environment around where you use the ice melt, be sure to brush it up off the floor and dispose of it safely in the bin. This will also prevent damage to shoes and driveways, as well as the plants and water.

3.     Keep it away from kids and pets

If sodium chloride is ingested or makes contact with skin, animals, children and adults can become ill or face irritation from the corrosive elements that are inside it. Because of this, we would warn pet owners and parents to use ice melt carefully. Even when using ice melt in playgrounds and schoolyards, exercise caution.

4.     Don’t use too much

When you use excessive salt, it doesn’t make the product work any better and the impact on the environment (and your purse strings) is a negative one. In order to make sure you’re using the correct amount, refer to the recommended dose on the packing labels or the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). You should only use ice melt when it is absolutely necessary – on cold days when the temperature will drop below freezing. In other cases, rock salt will work just fine.

White De-Icing Salt