Calcium Chloride (CaCl) is a very common ice melter product that is known for its fast melting power down to very low temperatures. It is also will known for having some major drawbacks. Calcium Chloride is caustic in nature which will burn the skin of humans and pets. Mis use will also harm vegetation. When Calcium Chloride dissolves it leaves behind an oily residue. This residue often gets complaints of staining carpets and leaves a very slippery residue on smooth surfaces. So why do people use so much of it? Since Calcium Chloride is exothermic, it works fast as it creates heat. The down side to this is that it tends to cool down quickly which requires additional applications of product to get the job done. This can cause additional wear on concrete as more freeze-thaw cycles tend to happen when using calcium Chloride.
This past winter was record setting in many areas of North America which caused a shortage of Calcium Chloride to be available. The demand was so great that going into next winter, most manufacturers have already notified customers that there will not be enough products available to meet fulfill orders.
This shortage will force many to look for alternate ice melt products. The harmful impact of using rock salt is well known so many will be on the look out for effective ice melters that are also safe on the environment, concrete, people, and pets. Fertilizer based products are a good option as long as they are not blended with salt. Products like Mountain Organic Natural™ Icemelter and GroundWorks Natural™ Icemelter are made from pure potassium which is a required nutrient for plant life. Not only are they safe on vegetation but studies have shown that potassium will actually repair the damage to soil caused by salt use. Studies also show that the right mixture of potassium can work as low as -8°F which covers most winter climates in North America. Cost wise, the required usage for products like this (1/4 cup per sq yard) are half that of Calcium (1/2 cup per sq. yard) so there is an instant cost savings. Plus these products are not heat based so they work longer allowing more melting to happen. Its nice to know there are better options that are not only environmentally friendly but will also protect people and animals.