Salt Truck

Repairing Salt Damage To Lawns And Concrete

Road salt can damage lawns, concrete and sidewalks. The Handyguys answer a question about rock salt and lawns then discuss different types of de-icers.

De-icing salts and your lawn

The Handyguys answer the following question from Mike:

I live in Michigan and the snow plows push the snow (AND SALT) up on my yard. What can I do to negate the effects the salt will have on my newly planted grass, once the snow leaves?

Salt Truck

Great question, Mike. The bottom line is that road salt raises the PH in the soil. You need to neutralize it. Neutralize the damage with an application of dolopril style limestone or granular gypsum. Spread thinly and water. Follow the instructions and safety precautions on the package.

De-icing salt and concrete

There is a lot more research on the effects of de-icers and their effects on concrete. Brian and Paul make reference to a study performed by Iowa State University. The article has a lot of techno jargon in it that chemists may like. We gleaned that different types of de-icers had differing effects on the deterioration of concrete.

We will list the different de-icers used in the study and summarize the results.

NaCl – also known as rock salt or sodium chloride. This is the most common de-icer. Its effectiveness is good to about 15 or 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  It’s also usually the least expensive.

CaCl2 – also known as calcium chloride. Its effectiveness is good for below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Calcium chloride was the second most destructive de-icer in the Iowa State University tests.

MgCl2 – also known as magnesium chloride. Magnesium chloride will cut through ice at sub zero temperatures, will not damage lawns as much, reduces steel corrosion and groundwater chloride contamination. The downside is that magnesium chloride was found to be the MOST destructive to concrete, especially low quality concrete.

The Iowa State University article concludes:

There is considerable interest in new de-icers, especially magnesium chloride because of its anti-icing properties and its effectiveness at lower temperatures than rock salt, and calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) because it reduces steel corrosion and groundwater chloride contamination. Our experiments document that the substitution of magnesium and/or calcium deicers for rock salt may have unintended consequences in accelerating concrete deterioration. Long-term, carefully controlled field experiments with magnesium and calcium deicers are essential in order to fully determine the effects of long-term use of these deicers under highway conditions and to determine if they are suitable substitutes for rock salt.

The Handyguys conclusions
Minimize the use of de-icers as much a possible. Brian is going to use Rock Salt, if anything, mainly because it’s the cheapest.
Listen to the podcast for the full discussion.

10 thoughts on “Repairing Salt Damage To Lawns And Concrete

  1. The melting action of the salt allows water to enter the concrete. Being hygroscopic, it attracts water, which causes concrete to become more saturated with water, which become troublesome sometimes.

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  2. Need help. Our tractor tire leaked cloride through a defective valve and was on a new garage cement floor for many months before discovery. Have rinsed lots with water but not doing the job. Would baking soda or vinegar help neutralize??? What to apply, how often and how long before rinseing.

    1. I’m not sure there is anything you can do. If you have completely rinsed the chloride off of the concrete then you have likely stopped additional staining.

      To others reading this – Calcium chloride mixed with water is sometimes used in tractor tires to add additional weight. The added weight allows the tractor to better pull its implements. The Calcium chloride prevents the water from freezing.

  3. Hey there-
    just wanted to chip in with a product idea that will definitely address the problems stated here. No matter what salt you use to de-ice, the concrete is going to suffer. There is a product that will not only permanently protect your concrete from salt and freeze thaw damage, it will also restore your concrete’s ph! Please check out to find out more.

    Good luck!

  4. Is granular gypsum an effective way for corrosion prevention of road salt on a car?will it have any adverse effects on metal or rubber?Thanks

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