As the winter season is upon us, you will want to be prepared by having a product on hand to help keep ice at bay. Everyone knows that keeping your walkways free of ice and snow is an essential component of winter safety. Melting existing ice and preventing water from freezing on your property is one of the most important things that you can do to maintain your home’s property during the winter months. With so many different types of ice melting products on the market, you may find yourself wondering which type is best for your needs? What’s the difference between traditional rock salt and other de-icers like ice melt?

There are three main types of ice melting products: rock salt, ice melt and calcium chloride. While these products all achieve the same goal of melted ice, they each have unique advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of which type you choose, remember to use it sparingly. Too much of any ice melting product can damage your walkway and surrounding vegetation.  By taking a closer look at the characteristics of each, we can help you can make the best decision for your needs.


*Contains sodium chloride

*Harmful to vegetation

*Leaves a white residue

*Can be used on blacktop, wood and gravel

*May be more corrosive to concrete than other options (do not use on poured driveways less than a year old)

*Requires sun or heat to start melting process

*Generally the most cost effective option

*Melts down to 20 degrees


*Contains a blend of calcium chloride and magnesium chloride (often referred to as blended)

*Concentrated formula will not leave white residue

*Safer for plants and vegetation than rock salt

*Works 4 times faster than rock salt

*Melts down to -15 degrees

*Most popular and best value


*Concentrated formula will not leave white residue

*Requires fewer applications than rock salt or ice melt

*Safer for plants and vegetation than rock salt

*Fast action (2-5 times faster than ice melt or rock salt)

*Melts down to -25 degrees


Helpful hints for using de-icing products:

*Use shovel or snow blower to clear any snow accumulation

*Apply it in a thin, even layer using a salt spreader. If you don’t have a salt spreader, sprinkle it on using a cup or wear gloves and apply it by hand. If you apply too much, thin it out with a broom.

*Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use on the package


Still have questions about which type of ice melting product is right for you? Please visit Gemmen’s Home and Hardware and speak to any of our knowledgeable associates. We carry all three types of de-icing product. We’re always happy to help and answer any additional questions you may have!