Is it Safe to Use Salt on Concrete?

Frigid air, snowstorms, and ice 15winter in Northeast Ohio can be brutal. When ice and snow melt, the water soaks into the concrete, leaving it vulnerable to refreeze when the temperature drops back down again. 

When the water inside of your concrete freezes, it can expand and exert internal pressure throughout the concrete, causing tiny cracks to form.  When this process is repeated through multiple cycles of snowfall and melting, small pieces of the concrete surface can flake off and leave unsightly marks on your sidewalk and driveway. 

While no one wants to chance slipping on a sidewalk or driveway and winding up in the ER, you don’t want to create more issues by using the wrong ice melting product. Salt can be a popular and cost-effective choice as a concrete deicer; however, many home and business owners are concerned about the effects of salt on concrete. Understand what salt does to concrete and how to safely deice your walkways this winter.

Handful of salt to deice concrete sidewalk.

What Does Salt Do to Concrete?

While salt has long been considered a wintertime staple to combatting ice, the Michigan Concrete Association says it can cause serious damage to your concrete, particularly new concrete. 

Concrete is a porous material, so even though it’s solid and strong, liquids and gases can still pass through it. Because rock salt (sodium chloride) will begin to freeze at 25 70F, the water will refreeze in the cracks on cold days and nights. When the acidic properties of the salt seep through the concrete, it can attack the bonds that hold the concrete together. This causes your concrete to deteriorate faster and cause cracks, voids, and trip hazards. In addition, salt can leave a residue and discolor the surface of your concrete.

How to Safely Melt Ice on Your Concrete

If you can’t use rock salt or other deicing chemicals on your concrete, you’ll still need a way to safely melt ice to prevent slip and fall hazards. Consider using products that contain calcium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate instead, as it has lower freezing temperatures compared to sodium chloride. 

You can also use regular table salt, instead of rock salt, for older concrete. If you’re feeling adventurous, some recommend using pickle brine or even sugar beet juice to safely melt ice on concrete.

Protect Your Concrete During the Winter

To ensure a safe, flat surface for walking during the winter, Mr. Level recommends that you treat your driveway and sidewalk with a clear coating that can protect against moisture seeping into the pavement, while still allowing the concrete to breathe.

Polyurethane, while commonly used for concrete leveling and void filling, can also act as a sealant to protect your concrete investment from damages during the winter. Contact Mr. Level today to learn more about our concrete solutions or to request a free estimate.

Posted by Mr. Level in Concrete

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