Winter ice melters rated: sand, salt, calcium chloride

Most of the damage done to concrete in the winter is due to the freeze/thaw of water.

During the day often the weaker ice melters, the daily high, and the sunshine will melt snow into water. Then late in the night temps will go into the low teens and that water will freeze and expand causing all kinds of damage to your concrete.

When comparing the prices and performances on the products below remember this tip, Calcium Chloride is the most expensive per pound but when used properly (sparingly) melts more ice per dollar. And when used sparingly will bother very few pets and not the lawn or flowers. It is also the safest for preventing damage to concrete.

Here are some popular products used to reduce the dangers of slippery ice:

SAND, the anti-slip product that is by far the safest for cement. Enough sand can make those icy spots safe without any damage to your new concrete. Its drawback is that it can be messy and it does not have any melting properties. About $4 for 50# pounds.

SALT (sodium chloride) is the cheapest of the ice melters and moderately used will provide the best bang for the buck if temperatures don’t go below 20 degrees. Its main drawback is its damage to plants and grass. About $7 for 50#.

FERTILIZER (ammonium sulfate) is a high nitrogen fertilizer. It is one of the harshest ice melters for concrete. Its benefit is fertilizing the lawn and adjacent greenery rather than killing it. However, due to the damage it has caused to concrete it is no longer ready available.

BLENDS (using potassium chloride, magnesium chloride and others) are all mid-temperature melters. They will melt ice from 10 to 20 degrees or so depending on the blend. There are many to chose from, look for ones with calcium chloride in the ingredients. About $7 to $12 for #50

CALCIUM CHLORIDE is by far one of the best of the ice melters. It melts ice down below zero degrees and is gentle to cement and carpeting. However, it is one of the most expensive of all the products available but the most economical when spread properly. About $17 for #50

PET GUARD for us pet owners is a urea based ice melter with no salt. It is safe for children, pets, lawn and flowers. About $18 for #20. We have a small Labradoodle and I haven’t had any issues using calcium chloride sparingly yet. We do have a jug of Paw Pal at home for my wife to use.

All products available in-season at Gilbert’s Pro Hardware in St. Clair Shores.