Most of us use ice melt throughout the winter but don’t pay too much attention to what is actually in it and the effects it can have on our sidewalks, stairs and driveways. Concrete can be a major expense and fixing it is one of the most requested repairs I see after home inspections. So it pays to keep yours it in good shape.
There are a ton of products out there with different chemical compositions and different claims as to what they do and how safe they are. Ultimately it will depend on what the store you are shopping in has in stock and what your needs are. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which chemicals you put down, but regardless of what you choose there are some things to be aware of when you use almost any ice melt:
- Don’t use ice melts on concrete if it is less than a year old. Concrete needs to go through at least 1 freeze thaw cycle to cure correctly before you can use ice melts on it. Unless your mason tells you something different only use sand or kitty litter on new concrete the first year.
- Shovel any loose snow or ice off before applying the ice melt.
- Spread only a thin layer. Most damage is caused by using too much. If you have a hand spreader this will help.
- Do not use rock salt. It is very harsh on concrete and geared towards commercial purposes especially ones that come in big chunks.
- Ice melts only work down to certain temperatures. Check the packaging.
- You can keep your concrete safer by sweeping the excess ice melt/ice off of the concrete once it melts the ice enough.
- If you don’t want to use ice melt at all you can use sand or kitty litter for traction.
- Keep most ice melts away from the base of your metal railings because they can corrode the metal.
- Most ice melts are toxic to plants. Keep them out of vegetation
- Keep ice melt out of reach of pets and children.There is pet safe ice melt for your dog’s paws, however you should still wipe their paws off after they come in contact with it. It can still irritate them and make them sick if they ingest it.
When you’re at the store read the labels or ask for help so you buy the product that is best for you. Ultimately you want to be safe when its icy but you also want to cause as minimal damage to your concrete as possible.