Homeowners have a lot of choices when it comes to products they can use to melt ice on sidewalks and driveways: calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride (rock salt) to name a few. While all are sold as ice-melt products, they differ in price, the temperature at which they are effective, and the relative damage they can do to asphalt and concrete.
Sodium chloride (rock salt) is the most economical but is effective only to 20 degrees F. Calcium chloride is usually more expensive than rock salt but works faster and at lower temperatures (-25 degrees F). Both pose a minimal to moderate threat of damage to asphalt and concrete.
The size of the treatment area, anticipated frequency of use, budget, and the temperature range at which you want the product to work will help you determine which product to buy. No matter which one you select, make sure you apply it only in your targeted area and only after the snow has been removed. This will help keep your grass and other landscaping from being damaged or killed from excess salt and will allow the product to work faster.
As ice-melt products do their job, the resulting melted ice (water) mixed with the ice-melt product drains into storm drains and/or drainage ditches. To minimize the negative impact this can cause on water quality and all life in the water, apply only at the recommended rate.