With winter just a few short months away, now is the time that many homeowners to stock up on deicer to protect themselves from any potential injury and to protect key areas of the garden from harsh frosts.
Unfortunately, many of you may have made the mistake of investing your hard-earned money in rock salt or sodium chloride to give it it's chemical name. While there's no doubt that it does work as a deicing product, it suffers from several limitations that perhaps aren't as well-publicized as they should be.
You see, calcium chloride ice melt actually outperforms conventional rock salt almost every way. Yet consumers still rely on sodium chloride and suffer the consequences. Better yet, calcium chloride doesn't inflict any of the associated damage that rock salt does (such as damaging plant life).
But we'll cover the numerous benefits of using calcium chloride over rock salt and other similar products in more detail later, first let's discuss precisely what it is.
What is Calcium Chloride?
Calcium chloride is a compound with the chemical formula CaCl2. At room temperature, it is a white crystalline solid that is highly soluble in water. The compound is exothermic, which means that it produces heat when mixed with moisture, making it a perfect fit for the task of melting ice and snow.
It is the most widely used deicing alternative to the sodium-based rock salt. In fact, despite that the fact that it has many other uses such as within road surfacing and the manufacture of processed foods, deicing accounts for by far and away the most significant volume of calcium chloride produced each year.
It's increasingly prevalent use as a deicer is thanks to its superior performance to the previously-favored sodium chloride (rock salt). However, today it's widely accepted that calcium chloride outperforms rock salt in almost every measurable attribute, bar perhaps cost.
So let's take a closer look at why this is the case. Why should you be using calcium chloride ice melt this winter instead of rock salt?
1. Better Performance at Lower Temperatures
One of the principal reasons calcium chloride ice melt continues to rise in popularity is its performance at the lowest temperatures. In fact, calcium chloride outperforms all over deicing compounds in cold weather.
Taking rock salt as an example, while it can technically work until it reaches its eutectic temperature (lowest possible ice-melting point) of -6°F, it's practical working temperature (the temperature at which it melts ice effectively) is 20°F. By contrast, the practical working temperature of calcium chloride goes beyond -25°F. To give that figure some context, that's more than 25 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the temperature of the next best-performing solution, magnesium chloride.
Given how cold winters can get in Northern America and Canada, you need to use a product that you can be sure will work at lower temperatures. The issue with commonly-used products such as rock salt is that it stops working at lower temperatures and becomes re-frozen when temperatures plummet overnight.
This makes driveways, lawns, and other pathways around the home dangerous under cover of darkness when spotting patches of ice becomes almost impossible. By purchasing calcium chloride ice melt, you can rest assured that even during the coldest mornings or evenings, the solution is still hard at work melting the ice rather than exacerbating the problem.
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2. Lower Application Rate to Achieve Results
One of the most significant advantages of using calcium chloride as a deicer is that you only need a small amount of product to cover a large surface area. How many times have you continuously shoveled rock salt over your driveway, barely noticing any difference? It's only once you've spread several pounds of salt that you begin to enjoy the deicing effect. But calcium chloride only requires a small amount, which is thanks to the way it works chemically.
Calcium chloride is a compound that attracts moisture such as snow and ice, and it's highly soluble in water. This combination facilitates the creation of a brine solution within seconds of contact with the surface of ice or snow. The brine solution then begins to melt everything it comes into contact with, increasing in mass as it comes into contact with the ice surrounding it, in a domino-style effect.
As you can imagine, that means, thanks to the chemical reactions taking place, spreading even a small amount of calcium chloride can clear an extensive area of ice thanks to its ability to penetrate and assimilate into a brine mixture. Calcium chloride not only melts the ice it comes into contact with, but it also causes a secondary melt through the continued spread of the brine.
For many homeowners and gardeners who are aware of calcium chloride as a deicing solution, they sight cost as a reason for continuing to use rock salt. While it's true that, pound-for-pound, calcium chloride is more expensive; it's actually the best-value solution when you take into account how much less you need to use to clear the same surface area of ice.
3. Calcium Chloride Helps to Improve Soil Structure
The biggest problem with rock salt is its sodium content. Sodium is very damaging to plant life, and your lawn in particular, for several reasons. Firstly, once sodium chloride mixes with water, the salt ions separate (sodium and chloride) and replace beneficial nutrients in the soil, making them unavailable to plants and reducing their ability to produce chlorophyll.
Unfortunately, that's not where the problems end with regards to rock salt. Once inside the soil, the salt absorbs water that would typically be available to roots, causing them to dry out. Suppose you have a garden or fence line directly parallel to the road. In that case, you will also discover that the salty slush kicked up from the road will land on leaves and branches, causing them to dehydrate and diminish their ability to withstand freezing winter temperatures.
By contrast, calcium chloride is a beneficial compound within the soil and actively helps to improve its structure. Calcium, to be more precise, is an essential macronutrient for healthy soil. If you're wondering precisely why calcium is so vital to the soil, then you need to know how calcium cations work.
With their double positive charge, calcium cations improve soil structure by bridging soil organic matter with clay particles, resulting in enhanced aggregation of soil particles. When the calcium chloride salt is dissolved into the soil, calcium ions are free to move within the soil matrix where they are either attached to the soil exchange sites, combined with other anions, or suspended in the soil water.
Those left suspended in the soil water are vital because calcium isn't just an essential nutrient for soil; plants depend on it too. Calcium is a crucial element in the structure and permeability of each plant's cell walls, and it's essential for cell division. But in order to absorb the calcium, it needs to be within soil water. As mentioned above, the excess calcium in soil water is absorbed by plants via transpiration.
When temperatures are so cold that plants struggle to get the water and nutrients they need to survive during the winter, studies have shown that adding calcium chloride improves their resistance to these challenging, drought-like conditions.
4. Calcium Chloride Releases Heat as It Melts
Calcium chloride ice melt has a significant advantage over its similar counterparts because it's an exothermic compound. In case you're unfamiliar with the term, exothermic means than during the process of the chemical reaction (for example, when it is exposed to moisture), heat is generated. This heat helps to create the ice-melting brine mentioned above, kick-starting the whole domino effect when clearing ice from surfaces.
This feature is one of the critical differentiating factors between calcium chloride ice melt and other similar ice-melting compounds. You see, almost all other deicers depend on their surroundings for heat. Whereas calcium chloride actually provides a heat source, creating the ice-melting brine.
To give you an idea of just how much heat that calcium chloride can produce, a pound of calcium chloride can raise the temperature of a gallon of water by over 30°F! When in the depths of winter, it's this specific chemical feature of calcium chloride that explains its ability to maintain a practical working temperature far below any other conventional deicer.
It also explains the speed at which calcium chloride gets to work. While you could be waiting several minutes, or even more than an hour for rock salt to make a noticeable difference to a surface, calcium chloride produces immediate results because it generates and disseminates heat across the contact surface within a matter of seconds. That explains why it can clear large surface areas in minutes.
5. Safer for Pet's Paws
One of the biggest complaints from homeowners that use rock salt (sodium chloride) to clear driveways and other crucial access areas around the property is the damage that it does to our four-legged friends' paws. The lacerations and abrasions that often scar cats and dogs are caused by the small, sharp, and jagged edges of the rock salt substance.
These particles often become lodged between toes or caught up in the fur surrounding the footpads, which prolongs contact and increases the potential for irritation. However, with our calcium chloride-based deicer Eco Garden Calcium Chloride Ice Melt, there's no such problem. As explained in great detail above, the calcium chloride almost immediately dissolves into a liquid brine, removing any elements that could potentially get stuck in between fur or toes.
What also helps is that the round-shaped prills (tiny balls that make up the room temperature product) wouldn't cause any issues if stepped on by a cat or a dog. The experience would be similar to stepping on a tiny pea. Better yet, the round shape of the prills is another feature that enhances performance.
Flat or crystal-shaped ice melters (such as rock salt) lie on top of the ice's surface as they dissolve, increasing the time it takes to break up the ice. By contrast, our round-shaped prills concentrate their melting action on a targeted area of the ice's surface. By focusing contact on a small contact area, the prills bore through ice up to three times faster than traditional counterparts.
Not only does this enable the calcium chloride to penetrate more quickly and break ice's bond with the underlying surface, but it significantly decreases the chance of a pet stepping on a prill, since it will be fully dissolved in a matter of minutes.
Melt Ice Faster, Safer, and More Effectively with Eco Garden Calcium Chloride Ice Melt
With winter just around the corner, now is the best time for you to stock up on your deicer supplies. However, this year, it's time you moved away from traditional rock salt and tried the more effective calcium chloride. If you've been wondering where to buy calcium chloride, then we've got the perfect product for you.
With heat-generating properties that work at temperatures far lower than any other competing solution on the market, our Eco Garden organic calcium chloride ice melt allows you to protect yourself from potential injury and property damage.
Better yet, you won't be leaving a harmful environmental footprint as our product actually helps your garden see off the harsh winter months, and you only need to use a fraction of the amount due to its continuous melting abilities. Developed using organic and natural ingredients, our proprietary formula immediately springs into action upon application, melting ice and snow within seconds of contact.
With fast, free shipping available on orders over $35, there's no time to waste. Grab yours before they're all gone!
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