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Choosing the Best Ice Melt: Liquid vs Salt De-Icing

Semi Service November 28, 2018

Snow isn’t the only challenge that you deal with during the frigid winter season – you also have to worry about ice. Even the most veteran snow plow drivers know ice can’t be underestimated. When you hit the road to keep them safe for everyone else, you need the best ice melt available. But what is the best ice melt: salt or liquid alternatives?

Learn the pros and cons of these two major de-icing solutions to discover which may be better for your snow plowing business.

Salt (And Other Granular/Solid De-Icers)

Easily the most commonly known ice melt is rock salt. Solid de-icers like rock salt and calcium chloride are scattered across roads and pathways to help remove ice. Businesses and homeowners alike have used them for decades to melt ice or prevent it from forming.

Pros of Granular Ice Melts:

Fast-Acting – Salts and similar ice melts work quickly to remove ice build-up. During the worst days of the icy season, roads can be dangerous. The faster your ice melt works, the fewer risks your client and the public will have to worry about.

Works on Tough Ice – Thick ice can be difficult to remove, but salt melts are uniquely effectively against them. Where liquid melts might not be able to clear through an entire layer of dense ice, salt can handle it.

Long Lasting – Solids slowly dilute over time, allowing for applications to continue protecting the surfaces they’re on for hours. When snow starts falling early and continues throughout the day, this can be a huge benefit.

Cons of Granular Ice Melts:

Salt is Damaging – Excessive salt can be wildly damaging to the area. It can negatively effect trees, bushes and grass. More importantly, it will slowly weaken even the tough surfaces it’s intended to protect. When tracked inside via shoes, it can even damage the interior of your clients’ buildings!

It Can Be Displaced – The physical pellets of salt are extremely light and often subjected to outside forces like traffic. As more traffic disperses them, they may become less effective at melting ice consistently across busy roads.

Liquid De-icers

While less popular, partially due to being newer, liquid ice melt has continued to gain popularity over the years as an alternative to road salt. It primarily functions in the same way that solid de-icers do, both preventing new ice formation as well as removing existing ice. It has unique benefits and drawbacks versus traditional solid salts.

Pros of Liquid Ice Melts:

Safer for Spreading – Liquid ice melts are more easily applied on the surfaces you want without risk of being displaced by traffic. This means fewer issues with damaging nearby vegetation. In the long-term, it can save businesses expensive landscaping costs from replacing trees or grass damaged by excessive salt.

Potentially Less Expensive – Salt spreading is often done through saturation, spreading a large amount of salt to help cover as much area as possible. Liquid ice melt spreads more accurately, allowing for far less being used on the same surfaces. Despite liquid de-icers costing more upfront, this could save you money through cost-effectiveness per square foot covered.

Lower Labor Expenses – Liquid ice melt is typically easier to spread over large areas than bags of salt. You can potentially save yourself from needing to hire more seasonal labor, saving yourself labor costs too!

Cons of Liquid Ice Melts:

Not Effective on Thick Ice – Salt remains king when it comes to cutting through thick sheets of ice. Liquid de-icers aren’t as effective, making them ill-suited for certain conditions.

Higher Upfront Costs – If you plan to use liquid ice melt, the cost is initially higher. Liquid ice melt itself costs more than bulk salt, and you need special storage containers to hold it. This can be off-putting for smaller snow plowing operations.

Which is the Best Ice Melt for Your Needs?

It depends! Certain small business owners will find that their contracts involve plowing and de-icing in areas that would be better suited for one type of ice melt over the next. In these cases, it’s not necessarily the case of looking for the best ice melt, but rather the best fit to remove the snow and ice!

If you plan to de-ice areas with heavy landscaping or are concerned about the longevity of the lots, liquid ice melt may be the better option! However, if your area is in constant battle with thick sheets of ice, you may need salt to get the job done.

If your fleet can manage it, it never hurts to be prepared to use both! You’ll need different equipment to do so, but it can increase your versatility – giving you the edge when it comes to getting new customers.

The most important thing is to do you research before you buy any equipment for your snow plow vehicle! If you have questions, we can answer them!

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