Local 4 puts ice melters to the test

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:18:31 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 07 2013 06:21:01 AM EST

We know it can be pretty expensive and time-consuming to clear ice from your driveway and sidewalks. So we put some popular de-icers to the test. 

We tested:

Rock Salt – the old standby.
PROS: It’s cheap.
CONS: It loses effectiveness quickly and, below 20 degrees, it is not very effective.
Rock salt is also corrosive and damaging to plants and your lawn.

Calcium Chloride
PROS: Works fast, effective below zero
CONS: 2.5 times more expensive than rock salt
Highly corrosive and damaging to plants.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate
PROS: Effective in low temperatures
Least corrosive and harmful to plants
CONS: 60% more expensive than rock salt.


Rock salt works fine on mild days, but loses effectiveness quickly once you drop below 25 degrees. Magnesium chloride is effective to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

 “That’s the stuff”, said Robert Conrad, Wayne County Road Commission, “it melts ice to -59 degrees.”


All ice melters can damage the edges of your lawn, landscaping, or even your concrete.

 The damage can occur days after you throw down the product.

“The one thing to be cautious of is not to throw salted snow on plants”, said Elizabeth Isler, Wayne County Parks Designer. “Be aware of drainage patterns.”

Isler recommends wrapping plants in areas to be treated with salt with burlap. Or, mulch them heavily to protect them. Then, in the spring, or during a thaw, flush the salt spray away by watering them heavily.

The bottom line on plants: In areas where you are concerned about vegetation, use products with Magnesium. They will cause less damage to sensitive areas.


 ll salt and de-icers can be hard on the paws of our pets.  They can burn the feet or cause discomfort.

 There is also the danger your pet will lick their paws and ingest the material.

 Our experts suggest you train your pet to use a specific area as a path and use gravel or sand in that area. 

 There are pet-friendly de-icers, but they are not nearly as effective as other products.

They can also be expensive.


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