With snow falling in the Cincinnati area for the first time in December 2017, Tri-Staters are running to Kroger, Walmart and their local hardware stores to grab ice melter.
But if you have the choice of a $12 jug of "safer" crystals or a $4 bag of rock salt, do you buy the more expensive melter or just the cheapest stuff you can find?
We put melters to the test
I have done several tests over the years, comparing different types of ice melter on the same snowy and icy sidewalk, with roughly the same results each time.
This is one case where products claiming they are "tough" really do live up to their claims.
The problem is that salt, which is cheap and fairly effective, loses its effectiveness once the temperature drops much below 20 degrees. And that's where you really need it.
The winner is...
So based on results of three separate "Don't Waste Your Money" comparisons since 2007, here is what we found:
- 1st Place: Chemical Pellets ("Prestone Driveway Heat," "Fire and Ice," others)
- 2nd Place: Environmentally Safe Melters ("Safe Step," "Morton Pet Safe,"others)
- 3rd Place: Rock Salt, a great value but simply not effective below 15 degrees
This is why road crews add calcium chloride to the salt they spread on roads. Many of the chemical pellets contain calcium chloride or similar additives.
You might think chemical melters could be hazardous to your sidewalk, but most of them are safe for concrete and asphalt. It's actually rock salt that causes the most harm to concrete and metal.
If you are concerned about pets, plants and your lawn, however, the environmentally friendly melters are the way to go.
They break down, causing no damage to plants or animals, and in many cases will work down to zero degrees.
That way, you don't waste your money.
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