Calcium Chloride vs. Rock Salt: Which Is Better for Snow and Ice Removal?
Every year, freezing temperatures, along with snow and ice, cause road hazards for drivers. When the snow melts and freezes into ice, it leaves a dangerous layer of black ice on road surfaces.
This is often the fault of ill-prepared winter roads.
Knowing proper road maintenance, and tips to stay safe on roads, allows clear roads for travelers and gives people safety when driving.
When examining Calcium Chloride vs. rock salt there are a few items to consider.
You need the key information that we are about to give you to stay safe on winter roads.
Rock Salt Snow Removal
Sodium Chloride, or rock salt, is beneficial to treat roads only after the snow has stopped falling. Rock salt works by raising the temperature of the ice and lowering the freezing point of water.
In the morning, after a heavy snowfall, you may notice that large snowplows scrape the roads and then cover them with salt. The salt helps the ice thaw and creates a gritty texture that helps vehicles gain traction. The tire traction of rock salt makes vehicle tires more steady on the road and less likely to collide with another driver.
If snow continues to fall after road treatment with rock salt, the layer of salt is covered and does not protect as well against road ice.
During mild winter storms, melting ice with rock salt can be effective. The best temperature to use rock salt is north of 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the temperature dips below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, rock salt is not effective at keeping the roads in driveable conditions as the roads will ice over again.
Calcium Chloride vs. Rock Salt
Calcium Chloride is another chemical compound used to melt snow and ice in below-freezing temperatures. The temperatures that calcium chloride works in are as low as negative 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melting ice with Calcium Chloride is more effective in colder temperatures or in areas where the snow refreezes after melting. Calcium Chloride works by raising the melting point of water. While water usually freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, Calcium Chloride creates a thermal reaction.
This thermal reaction is caused by the high concentration of salt in the compound that, when mixed with water, stops water from freezing until it reaches negative temperatures.
In areas where the colder season lasts longer and reaches far more chilling temperatures, Calcium Chloride is a must to keep roads and drivers safe.
However, proper use of Calcium Chloride will ensure that it is effective in clearing the roads. Applying this to roads before heavy snowfall is what makes it work. Preparing roads ahead of bad snow, with calcium chloride, helps the snow and ice to melt faster than using rock salt by itself.
Are These Chemicals Damaging?
Both of these snow and ice clearing methods have dangerous side effects for those who spread the substances on the road and those who drive on the road.
Rock salt on the roads often ricochets onto the bottoms of vehicles. Over time, the exposure and layering of salt can cause vehicle parts to rust. Rusted parts lead to broken vehicles, which is expensive for drivers.
Salt can also damage concrete, leading roads and driveways to have surface damage far sooner than a road that does not get cleared with rock salt.
The best method to ensure you are not overusing the salt is to remove a large amount of snow manually and add a smaller amount of rock salt after manual removal.
Calcium Chloride, on the other hand, also has dangers. The compound itself can lead to burns on the skin. Additionally, as the temperature of it rises, the gases it produces are toxic chemicals to inhale and can burn inside the lungs.
Many people using Calcium Chloride do not know the safest method for ice removal. These mistakes have caused and can lead to health problems.
However, using CaCL2 safely is possible if people take the proper steps to maintain hazardous solutions.
Cost-Effective Snow Removal
Buying these ingredients in bulk can help minimize the cost.
Calcium Chloride is more expensive, but when compared to rock salt it melts twice the amount of snow at a lower temperature.
The upfront cost is higher, but the Calcium Chloride works better to melt road ice while keeping vehicles and roads in good condition.
Rock Salt is also shipped around the world; the accessibility of the material drives down the cost.
Using Both Calcium Chloride and Rock Salt
To see the full effects of both rock salt and calcium chloride, look at how they work together. The best way to melt ice would be to use calcium chloride as a surface preparation technique, before heavy snow. This protective layer will stop roads from freezing over.
As the snowfall comes to a halt, and temperatures rise throughout the day, add rock salt to the top of the roads to provide extra melting and traction for drivers. Even if the ice is melting at a faster pace, if the roads have no traction then they are still unsafe for drivers.
Therefore when used together, calcium chloride and rock salt can provide great conditions to keep roads safe. Although, this is not always necessary.
What Should You Do?
As you can see, there are many factors such as temperature, cost, and safety to consider when choosing Calcium Chloride vs. rock salt.
Winter road safety starts with knowing your options and choosing the best one for your climate.
Let us help you make sure you are using CaCL2 safely. The most important thing you can do is be safe.