Any business owner familiar with the chaos that slippery roads and pavements can cause will know at least a little about the deicing agents commonly used on the roads and sidewalks in winter. Calcium Chloride and Sodium Chloride (or rock salt) are easily the most widely used, and both have their own unique properties.
Deciding which deicing agent - calcium chloride vs rock salt - is right for you depends entirely on your circumstances, and the weather you experience. Sometimes one will vastly outperform the other, and sometimes a combination of both is the perfect solution.
At Earth Development, we consider your exact circumstances and the weather you’re facing before making the right decision. We’re also in the business of making sure all of our customers are fully informed about the products we use.
Let’s take a look at the differences between these two popular deicers.
Which Is Cheaper?
The cheaper and more accessible option is Sodium Chloride or rock salt. This is an abundant substance found all over the world, meaning high shipping costs typically aren’t tacked onto the price. For most people, rock salt is an ideal solution because it is affordable, accessible, and effectively lowers the freezing point of water.
It’s easily the most affordable deicing agent out there.
Ice Penetration Rate and Temperature Considerations
Beyond price, ice penetration rate and the temperatures at which the deicing agents work are extremely important. Calcium chloride has the edge here with its ability to melt ice at temperatures as low as -20°F.
Rock salt can only melt ice and snow at temperatures above 20°F, meaning it’s ideal for mild winter weather but not for extremely cold temperatures experienced in some states each winter. Given that most states in the north and Midwest drop below this temperature in the winter, Calcium Chloride has a real edge here – but only needs to be broken out when the temperatures get that low.
What About the Environment?
Rock salt can cause some problems for businesses that have flower beds and lawns immediately next to their parking lots and pavements. Large quantities of Sodium Chloride may impact plant life and change the pH levels of the soil.
Calcium Chloride also has the edge over rock salt on this one, having less of an impact on soil and plants. It’s also easier on concrete. For pavements and parking lots not surrounded by wildlife or plants, however, Sodium Chloride is perfectly fine.
On the speed of melting, Calcium Chloride wins this one too. Rock salt offers a gradual melt, mixing with ice water to form a brine that spreads and continually makes it difficult for ice to bond with the ground. Calcium Chloride, however, quickly absorbs water and changes its melting point, making it a much quicker-acting agent.
Summing it Up — Pros and Cons of Calcium Chloride vs. Rock Salt
Both compounds are always under consideration. In summary, here are the pros and cons of each:
Rock Salt Pros and Cons
- Rock salt is a cheap, tried-and-tested mineral used to melt snow and ice.
- It’s effective between 15 and 20 °F, making it suitable for areas that experience less severe cold.
- The cheapest forms of rock salt will kill plants and lawns. They also alter the pH level of soil, making it difficult to replace dead gardens.
- Rock salt can erode parts of your vehicle, especially the underside, which people tend to neglect.
- It can damage concrete, asphalt, stone, and brick when used over long periods of time.
- Rock salt can also contaminate water and is harmful to pets.
Calcium Chloride Pros and Cons
- Calcium chloride melts at much lower temperatures than rock salt, i.e., 20°F
- It doesn’t damage plants, vegetation, and lawn as severely.
- Calcium chloride is less damaging to pavements than sodium chloride.
- It is more expensive than rock salt.
- It eats away at wood and concrete because it leaches out moisture and other chemicals.
- When dissolved with water, its complex molecules can cause more damage to a vehicle’s sheet metal than rock salt.
- Calcium Chloride can contaminate water as well and is also harmful to pets.
How Much Do You Need?
Sodium Chloride needs to be applied regularly throughout a weather event – as does Calcium Chloride – but will typically need to be applied in larger quantities. This often isn’t a problem owing to the affordability of this agent, but Calcium Chloride is definitely more efficient.
By melting water in lower concentrations, Calcium Chloride doesn’t need to be applied in quantities quite as substantial.
How About Using Both?
Sometimes this is absolutely the best idea. Combining these two agents reduces your expenditure and reduces the chance of ice bonding with outdoor surfaces at a wide variety of temperatures.
The cheap nature of Sodium Chloride, combined with its effectiveness and the unique benefits of Calcium Chloride makes combining these two solutions ideal for many kinds of businesses.
What Is the Best Choice?
Still wondering if calcium chloride is better than sodium chloride? Businesses that don’t often experience temperatures below 20°F and which are not concerned about impacting soil in lawns or flower beds will be well served by regular Sodium Chloride. However, for businesses looking to minimize the impact of freezing temperatures, either Calcium Chloride or a combination of both will provide a reliable deicing effect that you need.
Solely on a matter of price, a combination of both agents is always a good choice.
Why Not Leave It to the Experts?
The easiest way to make sure that the right deicing agent is used on your property is to leave it to the experts!
At Earth Development, we have professional, local contractors across the Midwestern United States. With all their own equipment and years of experience, our contractors will ensure that your property is prepared for the winter months ahead.
For more information or even a free quote, don’t hesitate to reach out today!