There are many different solutions to clear paved surfaces of ice throughout winter. Wisconsin residents are no strangers to ice, but did you know that some of these products and techniques can cause major damages to your pavement? You should be aware of the type of pavement you have (asphalt or concrete) as well as the forecast! Here are some common ways to remove ice and whether or not they are actually hurting your pavement!

Salt/Ice Melt

There are a lot of different types of salt and ice melt to discuss. While some can be extremely beneficial, some can wear down your asphalt and cause corrosion over time. 

  • Sodium Chloride. Typically used as basic table salt, sodium chloride is the cheapest option and safe for sealed asphalt, but can cause major issues for concrete. It is only effective up to 15 degrees fahrenheit and, despite the fact that it is a naturally occuring mineral, it is very harsh on the environment. It should not be used in extreme temperatures as it will thaw and then immediately refreeze causing damage to the surface underneath. 
  • Calcium Chloride. Though it is pricier than sodium chloride, calcium chloride is a much better option for both asphalt and concrete. It is effective as low as -50 degrees fahrenheit making it great for extreme Wisconsin temperatures. When used in moderation it will not harm the landscaping around it, however it is not safe for use around pets as it can harm delicate paw pads. 
  • Magnesium Chloride. Despite being the newest addition to the ice melt team, magnesium chloride is a strong option for melting ice in colder temperatures. Effective as low as -13 degrees fahrenheit, magnesium chloride is an efficient choice for Wisconsin winters. It is safe and effective when used in moderation for both asphalt and concrete and should not cause issues for landscaping if used correctly. 
  • Potassium Chloride. Although it is considered relatively safe for both pets and the environment, potassium chloride isn’t a great option for extreme temperatures as it is only effective as low as 25 degrees fahrenheit. It is also significantly more expensive than other options. 

Alternative Materials

There are quite a few alternatives to salt or other common ice melts, although they may not be the best for extreme Wisconsin winters. 

  • Sand. While sand itself doesn’t actually melt snow, it absorbs sunlight to assist melting and adds a gritty texture to prevent slips and falls. Sand works well as traction behind tires that are stuck in the snow as well!
  • Kitty Litter. Litter does not aid in melting snow, but does add a layer of traction if in a pinch and you need a quick fix. Keeping a box of litter in your trunk is a great idea during snow storms if your vehicle ever gets stuck in the snow. 
  • Alcohol. Using alcohol to melt ice seems like an easy and safe idea, however if done wrong it can make things worse. If you are in a pinch and need a quick fix, mix a half gallon of boiling water, a few drops of dish soap, and ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. Pour the solution over the effective areas and use a shovel to scrape away the remaining ice. This is not a long term solution and should only be used as a last resort. 
  • Vinegar. Much like alcohol, vinegar is a great option when you’re in a pinch but doesn’t provide a long term replacement for ice melt. Mix equal parts vinegar and hot water and pour over the affected pavement. Immediately clear the remaining ice and water to prevent refreezing. 

When using a traditional ice melt, apply a layer before precipitation to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with removing ice and snow. It is extremely important to remove the snow and slush as soon as the ice melt is done doing it’s job. Always read the instructions and recommendations on the specific brand that you are using! You should also make sure your asphalt is properly sealed and that there aren’t any major damages in your pavement. If you’re not sure whether or not your asphalt is ready for winter, contact Armored Asphalt and we will come inspect your driveway or parking lot! We are the go to for all asphalt services in SE Wisconsin!