Home Inspection Insights

Lawrence M. Watkins, Specsure Property Inspections

Choosing the right ice melt

ice melt 2

While snow and ice may look gorgeous cascaded on the elements throughout your Western New York yard, snow and ice are not so great when they’re built up on your driveway and sidewalks. Not only do they present a slipping hazard, but they can also have an impact on the structural integrity of the pavement.


Ice melt products are an ideal way to keep your driveway and walkways free of ice and snow, but not just any ice melt will do. You need a product that’s effective in the extremely cold temperatures we get in the Buffalo area, and one that won’t wreck asphalt or similar paving materials.


Most Effective Ice Melt Products for Western New York


While traditional rock salt, or halite, is one of the most popular ice melts, it generally doesn’t work below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. When it stops working, the water freezes, and then thaws when it starts working again. This freeze/thaw process can result in water entering the fissures in the pavement, and then freezing and hardening, eventually resulting in cracks or worse potholes.


You want an ice melt product that continues to work even in the coldest temperatures. Good choices include:


  • Calcium Chloride: Available in flakes, pellet or crystals, calcium chloride works quickly by attracting water and forming a brine. It also releases heat and is effective in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Magnesium Chloride: These pellets also release heat, and they continue to work in temperatures as low as 0 degrees.
  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate: Calcium magnesium acetate, or CMA, is used in a number of ice melt products. It works in temperatures as low as -25 degrees and is approved for use around pets and children.


Tips for Buying Ice Melt Products


Whenever possible, it pays to buy your ice melt products in advance. Waiting until the first major storm hits the Buffalo area means you’re unlikely to get a good deal, or even find any left in stock at all. You can typically get the best prices on ice melt products before the season begins.


Buying ice melts based on the amount and the level of performance you need is another wise move. Take measurements of the area so you don’t fall short or end up with an overload. Also avoid purchasing an ice melt that promises all kinds of benefits that go above and beyond your needs. You’ll just pay more without reaping the benefits.


Keep in mind that using more than the recommended amount of ice melt will not make the product work faster or better. It’s important to follow manufacturer instructions on whatever product you choose.


Remember to also keep an eye on the ingredients before you buy your ice melt product to ensure it contains the components you want. As a leading home inspection company in Western New York, we know the importance of safety and protecting your investment, and the right ice melt product can provide both for you and your family.