Seven Alternatives to Rock Salt

  August 11, 2011

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is seven alternatives to rock salt.

As grounds managers fine-tune their deicing and anti-icing programs, they are seeking alternatives to rock salt, or sodium chloride. Here are seven alternatives:

Calcium chloride. Calcium chloride, or CaCl, is a byproduct of some chemical manufacturing processes. Proper storage is imperative — in plastic or metal bins with lids — because CaCl absorbs water easily.

Magnesium chloride. This deicer comes in a granular form blended with other chlorides or in a liquid solution. It is safe to use around vegetation, but crews should not apply it too heavily because it can become slippery.

Potassium chloride. A good all-around deicer for pedestrian areas, potassium chloride shares the chemical makeup of some fertilizers. As a result, it is safe for use around vegetation and causes minimal impact on soil and water sources.

Urea. This product, which is also a fertilizer, comes in a granular form. When applied in recommended amounts, urea should not harm vegetation and, in fact, can promote growth.

Calcium-magnesium acetate. Calcium-magnesium acetate has limited melting capabilities but is a biodegradable product primarily used to prevent ice formation on concrete, bridges and roads, which are sensitive to corrosion.

Liquid potassium acetate. This environmentally responsible liquid solution is another pre-treatment option that prevents snow and ice from forming on and adhering to paved surfaces. It is biodegradable and available in liquid form, and crews should apply it before a snowstorm to achieve maximum effectiveness.

M-50. This anti-icing product causes minimal environmental impact, is biodegradable, and is less corrosive than distilled water.


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