Green Ice Melting

Magnesium Chloride – Why Take the Risk?

The article, The Case Against Magnesium Chloride talks about how the use of Magnesium Chloride, also sometimes referred to as MAG, as an icemelter to melt the ice on concrete sidewalks, driveways or roads can be deadly.  MAG was once thought to be a safe and powerful ice melting solution, but today there is much scientific information and evidence on the concrete damaging effects of Magnesium Chloride.  With many manufacturers still using Magnesium Chloride in their icemelter, one must pose the question; WHY TAKE THE RISK?
Due this overwhelming amount of scientific evidence, it is not surprising that XYNYTH Manufacturing Corp., a major North American manufacturer of icemelters, protects its customers by not using any magnesium chloride in its products.
The study, PCC Pavement Deterioration and Expansive Mineral Growth, undertaken by the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences at the Iowa State University, concluded that Magnesium Chloride produced significant concrete crumbling and fracturing. The study looked at different de-icers and found that Magnesium Chloride proved to be the most deleterious and will actually decrease the service life of concretes.
The question always asked is: “so how does the magnesium chloride actually damage the concrete”. According to his article, Magnesium Chloride as a Road Deicer: A Critical Review, Peter Snow, a concrete specialist from Burns Concrete in Idaho, states the problem begins as the magnesium chloride comes into contact with the now deiced concrete surface and remains contained in the melt water, and permeates into the concrete.  The magnesium ions accumulate and react with the cementitious compound calcium- silicate-hydrate converting it to magnesium-silicate-hydrate (or a mineral called brucite), which is non-cementitious in nature.
In other words, formation of magnesium-silicate hydrate breaks down the “glue” that binds aggregates together and concrete surfaces begin to deteriorate. The net effect is we now have a chemical and physical attack that concrete is not designed to withstand, nor be subjected to.
As you can see from these studies, it is strongly recommended by many to stay clear of Magnesium Chloride (MAG) based icemelters, or those blends that contain MAG.
So now the obvious question is, even though magnesium chloride may be an inexpensive and powerful icemelter, why would anyone take the risk of using it on a concrete surface, causing potentially costly damage?  There are many icemelters on the market today, like Mountain Organic NaturalTM Icemelter and GroundWorks NaturalTM Icemelter that can be safely used on concrete with no damaging side effects.