How Is Ice Melt Affecting Your House?

man shoveling snowWinter is right around the corner with snow and ice. Ice melt is a great way to get rid of snow and ice in unwanted places, but do you know how it is affecting the surfaces around your house?


The most commonly used surface for ice melt is concrete--your driveway, sidewalk, etc. There are many different kinds of ice melt and each will affect concrete differently. Sodium chloride will attack the metal rebar within concrete when it is soaked up. Calcium chloride usually leaves an oily residue and will discolor concrete. Ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate can attack and disintegrate concrete. Urea, a less common ice melt, will not chemically damage concrete.

Most damage to concrete during the winter happens because of freezing and thawing. There is no way of stopping it, but there are a few things you can do with your ice melt to help it.

    • Apply ice melt and once the ice has turned into a slush promptly remove it from the concrete. This will reduce the amount of water that will be absorbed and will reduce the pressure buildup in the concrete.
    • Use an ice melt that will keep melted ice in a liquid state for a longer period of time. Calcium chloride tends to re-freeze more quickly compared to ice melt that contains potassium chloride.

Carpet and Wood Floors

Ice melt tracked in from outside can potentially damage your carpet and wood floors.

Some ice melts leave a white powdery residue that can dull the finish if left to sit too long. Others leave an oily residue that can damage wood floor finishes, create slippery floors, and attract dirt. If ice melt is left on a wood floor, it can draw out the natural moisture and cause splintering. In carpets and wood floors, unremoved ice melt can cause dry rot issues.

There are a few ways you can help prevent damage to carpet and wood floors from ice melt:

    • If ice melt has been tracked in, try to clean it up as soon as possible. For ice melt with sodium chloride, vacuuming or mopping should clean it well. For ice melt with calcium chloride or magnesium chloride try mopping up with a good detergent.
    • To prevent ice melt from being tracked in on indoor surfaces, use track mats. Place mats both outside and inside entrances and clean them with a mop or vacuum throughout the day.

Grass and Plant Life

Many ingredients in the common ice melts are also found in traditional fertilizers. Unfortunately, when these ingredients are applied over and over throughout the winter and piled up along the edge of your lawn or landscape beds, they can have a serious, negative effect.

To protect your lawn and plants you can do the following three things:

    • Don’t over-apply ice melt. Make sure you are following directions on your ice melt and not overdoing it.
    • Carefully apply ice melt along the edges of the lawn and landscape beds. Try to avoid piling up on the edges or getting ice melt into the landscape beds.
    • If you notice signs of damage, try watering the area to neutralize the problem.

There have been many advances in ice melt and there are ice melt products available that are won’t pit or discolor concrete, won’t leave messy residues to be tracked indoors, are harmless to grass and plants, and colored to help monitor application. Find yours at Brody Chemical.