During winter, perhaps no product is more valuable than ice melt or rock salt. People stock up on bulk ice melting products just to make sure their driveways and walkways are hazardless. At our landscape supply store in Norton, Massachusetts, we have a huge variety of rock salts and ice melts. But sometimes variety can be confusing. Standing in front of a wall of 50-pound bags of ice melting supplies can be intimidating. Which works best? What’s the difference between sodium chloride and calcium chloride? Are these ice melts safe for pets?
Don’t worry! Today, we’re going to discuss the difference between some common snow melt products so you’ll know exactly what you want when you come into our landscaping supply store. And if you still have questions, give us a call! Sometimes talking to a real person can offer more peace of mind than scouring the internet.
What’s The Difference Between Rock Salt And Ice Melt?
The technical difference between these two products is in the chemicals that make them up. Rock salt, also commonly called halite, is simply sodium chloride – the same chemical compound that makes up table salt. Ice melt, on the other hand, is most often a blend of calcium chloride, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, and other elements.
How Do Ice Melt and Rock Salt Work?
When rock salt or ice melt is spread over an icy patch, it penetrates the surface of that ice and forms a salt and water solution, also called brine. Brine has a lower freezing point than water, so it will slowly help to melt the ice underneath, creating more brine and working more quickly as time goes on. How low that freezing point is will depend on whether you are using ice melt or rock salt. Ice melt can drop the freezing point drastically, while rock salt will only drop it a few degrees.
Are Ice Melting Products Safe For Dogs?
Even though ice melt seems to have more chemicals than rock salt, ice melt products are generally considered safer for pets than rock salt, though none are guaranteed to be safe if ingested. If small amounts are ingested, your pet might experience some intestinal discomfort. However, if large amounts are ingested, the product can cause an imbalance of electrolytes and result in lethargy and even seizures or death. While it’s not good if your dog eats rock salt, the biggest problem with pets and ice melt isn’t what gets in their stomach, but what gets on their paws. Rock salt is very drying, and the grainy salt crystals can be irritating to your dog’s paws leaving them cracked and dry.
While you can use pet-safe ice melt on your own property, you can’t control what your neighbors use. If you’re one who takes your dog out for a long walk every day, you may want to consider getting a pair of pet booties or looking up home remedies to keep their paws safe from ice melting products – and protect their stomachs when they inevitably lick their paws after a walk.
If They Both Melt Ice, How Do I Know Which To Choose?
Just as with most good things in life, there is always a ‘but.’ We’ve compiled some good things about ice melt and rock salt below, along with the ‘but’ that you should consider.
- Rock salt is only effective down to 25 degrees
- BUT rock salt usually contains a gravely material that will still help provide traction on ice
- Ice melt is effective down to -15 degrees, and some products will melt ice at -25 degrees
- BUT ice melt is more expensive than rock salt
- Rock salt is more economical per pound
- BUT you need more rock salt to accomplish what less ice melt will
- Ice melt may be safer for pets and children than rock salt
- BUT a smiling kid or a cute puppy on a bag of ice melt doesn’t guarantee it is safe
Our Landscape Supply Store Carries All The Major Ice Melt And Rock Salt Brands In Bulk
To make sure you have all the ice melting products you need to get through winter, be sure to stop by our landscape supply store in Norton, Massachusetts! And as always, we’d love to hear from you if you have any questions. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at (508) 622-1698!