The Difference Between Rock Salt and Ice Melt

The Difference Between Rock Salt and Ice Melt

The Difference Between Rock Salt and Ice Melt


The current winter weather trend in the northeast has been wet and icy for the past few years. With this trend, we have seen an uptick in customers coming in and asking what the difference between rock salt and ice melt is. Property managers, homeowners, and business owners should all have a decent supply in stock to prevent the inevitable slips and falls that come with winter snow and ice storms. We carry both ice melt and rock salt at all of our store locations. With winter less than a month away, our article this week will focus on the difference between rock salt and ice melt.

Rock salt is also known as halite. It is the mineral form of sodium chloride. Rock salt lowers the freezing point of water and partially melts the ice while forming a brine. This solution seeps under the ice and breaks down the bond between ice and pavement. It works down to a temperature of 5 degrees Fahrenheit and can provide instant traction on snow and ice. If an adequate amount of salt is used, the ice will not form again. Rock salt is often used on driveways, walkways, and even stairs.

Rock salt is also cheaper than ice melt. It is more readily available than ice melt. It is often a back up when ice melt is in shortage due to inclement weather. Despite being low cost and effective, consumers should take into account that some types of rock salt can be harmful to plants and pets. When utilizing rock salt, be cautious where you spread it. Don’t let pets near the area and don’t let it accumulate on grass and greenery.

Ice melt, on the other hand, is made of magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, or sodium chloride. Experts say that ice melt made from calcium chloride is the most effective and the most popular amongst consumers. Most types of ice melt are also more plant and pet friendly. Some ice melt is even coated with calcium magnesium acetate to make it even safer.

The main ingredient of calcium chloride has the ability to lower the freezing point of water. Ice melt forms brine as well as generating chemical heat. This combination makes ice melt very effective at melting ice faster than most other products. Different types of ice melt serve different purposes. Picking the type you want depends on your specific needs.

When spreading either of these products, you’ll want to thoroughly read the safety data sheet and application instructions. Don’t assume that a brand of ice melt is safe to spread around liberally just because it has a picture of a dog and child happily playing on the label. If you do have pets and are spreading rock or ice melt. it is still a good idea to wipe off their paws when they have stepped on it. This is especially important for ice melt as it can cause irritation to paws and can cause gastrointestinal issues if the dog licks it.


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