4 Types of Ice Melters and How to Select the Right One for You

Winter is no longer the dreaded thing coming. It’s here. With the on-going pandemic, many people are taking advantage of delivery services from fresh restaurant food to Christmas shopping. You need to make sure your porch, driveway, and sidewalks are safe for yourself, your family, and those heroic delivery drivers braving the cold. Check out our guide on ice melters and learn which one is the best choice for your home.

Types of Ice Melt Forms

You may be most familiar with the rock salt found on the side of the road in Michigan’s winter season. This is just one form of ice melt. You can also purchase pellets and liquid forms of the product. There are pros and cons to each.


About the size and shape of peas, the pellet ice melt is great for penetrating deep below the ice surface. It builds up a brine, making it difficult for new ice and snow to form. Additionally, it makes shoveling easier since the bond between ice and cement is broken up quickly. As you might have guessed, however, the roundness of the pellets makes it easy for them to roll, so if your driveway has a steep slope, this may not be the ice melt product for you.


This is the traditional rock salt form you’re probably most familiar with. These particles are irregularly shaped and, therefore, don’t roll as easily down driveways. In fact, they provide quite a bit of traction, so this is a good product for steep driveways or areas with extra foot traffic like the front porch.


Usually, a pet and concrete safe option. This form of ice melt often comes with a sprayer attachment for easy application.

Different Types of Ice Melt Products

They may look extremely similar, but there are actually five common salt compounds to choose from when you need to de-ice your concrete. Ice melt is often sold as a blend of the following four salts. Knowing how each ingredient affects your concrete and your pets’ lives empower you to make the best decision. And different ice melters perform better at more extreme temperatures.

Sodium Chloride (NaCl)

If the outside temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheit or above,  sodium chloride would be the best bet. More commonly referred to as “rock salt,” this product is so effective because it lowers the water’s freezing point. (Yes, really!) Which means your driveway won’t ice over until it’s nearly 5 degrees. As such, it is remarkably good at keeping your driveway and sidewalk dry. If you’ve ever noticed that someone’s driveway looks so clean and dry after shoveling snow and ice, they likely used this product. It’s also one of the most affordable options out there, and it provides great traction. There is a downside, though: it is corrosive and may damage concrete, wood, or even plants, so keep that in mind when making your selection.

Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2)

Magnesium chloride is one of the more pet-safe ice melt options. Like calcium chloride, it is far less corrosive than rock salt. However, you will need to use more of the product than calcium chloride.

Calcium Chloride (CaCl2)

Calcium chloride is the go-to ice melter if you need to take care of things quickly. It absorbs moisture from the environment as it melts, heating up as it turns to liquid. It gets the job done faster than rock salt, and it won’t corrode the concrete. It’s also much better for extremely low temperatures – think 15 degrees or below. There is one major con: because it gives off heat as it works, it can burn skin. Keep this in mind if you have dogs or small children.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)

Like calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, this ice melt won’t corrode as drastically as sodium chloride, making it a better choice for preserving concrete. It’s usually sold in liquid form and is biodegradable.

Get Bulk Ice Melt Delivered to Your Door – Call PPM Landscape Contractors

When the weather’s bad, there’s nothing worse than realizing you forgot to buy rock salt. We’re proud to offer our customers a selection of bulk ice melts in 50 lbs. bags delivered right to your door! Call (877) 454-8733 or contact us online to learn about our product offerings and delivery timetables. Be sure to check our blog for more information on lawn care tips!

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