TIPS + TOOLS

Amsted’s Winter Weather Tips

February 23, 2015

Winter is in full force! And while milder days are a great reprieve from the cold, followed up with a return to the freezing cold can create dangerous slip hazards not only on city sidewalks and roads, but also on personal driveways and walkways. The last thing anyone wants is to slip and fall or worse yet, a family member or friend injures themselves on your ill-maintained driveway or walkway.

But what do you use? Salt? Or maybe sand? What if you used both? And will these products affect your pets? Here are the answers to all your questions!

The most commonly used product is Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride, NaCl). However, rock salt is endothermic. It must draw heat from the surroundings to form an ice-melting brine. With a lowest effective temperature of +20°F (-7°C), rock salt is a relatively slow and ineffective in colder temperatures. On the colder winter days you might want to add some sand to the mix to give you some extra grip.

  • Relatively cheap in cost
  • Can cause damage to concrete and stone
  • Can cause problems for your pets (paws )
  • Not very effective in cold temperatures
  • Mix with sand on cold days

Calcium chloride products on the other hand have a lowest effective temperature of -25°F (-32°C). Calcium chloride is a hygroscopic material that attracts moisture from its surroundings, speeding the creation of brine to give melting action a fast start. Calcium chloride is also exothermic. When temperatures are lower than its effective melting temperatures add a bit of sand to the mix for some extra grip

  • Slightly more costly than Rock salt
  • Faster melting in cold temperatures
  • Gentle on concrete, grass, and pets (follow directions)
  • Mix with sand on very cold days

Now that we have a little bit more information about these product you can safely ask for these products at your local hardware store. (Click here for a few ideas.) If you are also experiencing ice build-up on your roof as well, ask for the puck version of this green and pet-friendly product to help avoid ice-damming.

But! Let’s not forget home owner maintenance has a big part to play in all of this. De-icing products are there to help speed up ice melting and this is why sand is a good addition in both scenarios. What’s even more effective to reduce the amount of ice in your driveways and walk ways is when you keep on top of clearing away snow and chipping away at the ice after the de-icer has done its thing. Unfortunately this is something you will have to do all winter long but if you do, you’ll make it to the spring with a spring in your step, having avoided the pitfalls of another icy Canadian winter.