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?
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.