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Ice Melt: Full Service for Richmond, VA

Service Company of Virginia / Services  / Ice Melt: Full Service for Richmond, VA

Ice Melt: Full Service for Richmond, VA

Ice Melt in Richmond, VA

Let’s just own this, Richmonders lose our minds when it snows. At the first sign of icy conditions, we’re stampeding the grocery store, snatching up every loaf of bread and the last gallon of milk. But to be fair, we’re not completely irrational. We just want to be prepared for even a single snow flake because we’ve been, well, blind-sided by snow a few times.

Facilities managers, contractors and landlords can also get caught off guard since snow in Richmond tends to be a feast or famine event—either little to none at all or a blizzard that shuts us down for a week.

But facilities managers can offset winter’s uncertainty by making a planned effort to predict how much ice melt they will need based on previous winters and future forecasts. After all, clear and safe surfaces help facility managers and building service contractors prevent potentially costly slip-and-fall lawsuits and protect property.

The Service Company team created this Ice Melt Guide to help facilities managers, property managers and snow service providers understand the various ice melters that are part of a professional, quality snow management operation. Need more help with ice melt? Call us at 804-342-8086 or contact us online.

Ice Melt: The Basics

What is the science behind ice melt products? To put it simply, ice melters attract moisture to themselves to form a liquid brine, which generates heat and melts ice. The brine breaks the bond the ice has with the pavement so it can more easily be shoveled away.

There are four main types of ice melting products:

  1. Rock salt
  2. Ice melt
  3. Calcium chloride
  4. Pet friendly ice melter

While these products all achieve the same goal (melted ice), they each have unique advantages.

Regardless of which melter you choose, remember to use it sparingly: too much of any ice melter can damage your walkway and the surrounding vegetation. Sand and gravel can always be used in place of ice melter for traction, especially in situations where it is too cold for ice melter to work effectively.

Ice Melt Guide and Comparison Chart

Which type of ice melt is best for your needs?

Ice Melt Guide and Comparison Chart

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Rock Salt

  • 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
  • Requires sun or heat to start melting process
  • Generally the most cost effective option
  • Melts down to 20°F

Ice Melt

  • Contains a blend of calcium chloride and magnesium chloride
  • 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°F

Calcium Chloride

  • Concentrated formula will not leave white residue
  • Requires fewer applications than rock salt or ice melter
  • Safer for plants and vegetation than rock salt
  • Fast action (2-5 times faster than ice melter or rock salt)
  • Melts down to -25°F

Pet Friendly Ice Melt

  • Contains magnesium chloride pellets
  • More gentle on pet paws than rock salt
  • Safer for concrete and vegetation than rock salt
  • Varieties available that are free of sodium (safer if ingested by pets)
  • Melts down to -15°F

Which Ice Melt Works Quickest?

Steps, sidewalks and other common areas that are the responsibility of the site manager require rapid cleanup to help maintain a safe work environment. An effective, fast acting deicer naturally makes ice and snow removal easier which, in turn, saves time and reduces maintenance.

Calcium Chloride melts faster than most other common ice melters for several reasons:

  1. Unlike rock salt, calcium chloride absorbs moisture from its surroundings and actually releases heat as it changes from a solid to a liquid. This means calcium chloride forms a potent brine faster.
  2. At 15 degrees Fahrenheit, calcium chloride pellets melt about twice the volume of snow in 20 minutes as rock salt.
  3. Calcium chloride pellets also penetrate ice faster than other deicers, and the difference is even more dramatic at colder temperatures.

Which Ice Melt Is Safe For Concrete?

Most deicers do not chemically attack properly placed and cured concrete. Rather, damage to improperly constructed concrete is actually the result of the expansion pressure caused by the repeated freezing of trapped water. As the number of freeze/thaw cycles increases, it can contribute to damage.

Independent testing of commonly used deicers has shown that calcium chloride is the least harmful to concrete (excluding Sodium Acetate and Calcium Magnesium Acetate) after 500 freeze/thaw cycles. Incidentally, liquid calcium chloride is widely used in concrete to decrease the set time of concrete in the winter.

Concrete Deicer Tips

  1. Never use an ice melt on concrete that’s less than 12 months old because newly poured concrete needs time to cure and settle. Applying ice melt can weaken the concrete and make it more susceptible to future damage. Instead, choose sand or gravel to add traction.
  2. To minimize the impact on concrete, ice and snow should always be removed promptly. Any excess deicer should also be brushed away after the sidewalks have cleared.
  3. Before the winter season arrives, consider applying a penetrating silicate concrete sealer. This will completely block moisture from being absorbed into the concrete. If no water can penetrate the concrete, then no damage from freeze / thawing will occur.

Ice Melt Application Best Practices

Before any ice melt is applied, it’s important for facility managers to establish a policy for clearing new snow accumulations. Generally, snow accumulation of 1-inch or greater should be removed prior to any de-icing application. This will help prevent the overuse of ice melt products that typically occurs when staff attempt to “burn off” the snow with salt.

Efforts to clear snow include: plowing, blowing, shoveling and sweeping.

Snow Removal Tips

  1. Staff should be trained to relocate snow piles to areas that minimize the flow of water that may refreeze — warranting future de-icing applications of the refreeze.
  2. Managers should provide workers with documentation (i.e. Site Engineering Plan) of drainage and slope issues so they can properly place snow piles.
  3. Finally, make sure staff does not relocate or dump snow into bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, ocean, wetlands, storm water management ponds, etc.
  4. Most deicers dry to a white powdery residue. To help prevent tracking into buildings, walk-off mats are one of the simplest yet most effective solutions. We recommend at least four feet of mat with six to ten feet for higher traffic areas.

Once snow is properly removed, ice melt products can be applied.

Just as important as it is to have a policy for removing snow, facility managers should have a policy for ice melt.

First, make sure to train staff on where to apply ice melt products. They must avoid salt-sensitive areas or zones that are protected by local, state or federal regulations.

The ice melt policy should also include the proactive prevention of snow and ice bonding on driving and walking surfaces as a standard practice. This is known as anti-icing. When implementing anti-icing techniques, it’s important to know the specific weather scenarios that exist where and when anti-icing may be ineffective (i.e. heavy rain, specific temperature conditions, etc.).

An effective ice melt program should also include spot-treatment of problem areas.

Facility managers should train staff to be aware of north-facing areas or areas where water and ice are known to build up. Spot-treating these areas should be standard practice rather than “blanket treating” the entire exterior space every time, which can be costly for departments.

Finally, an ice melt policy should include an ice monitoring process, which would insure proactive and effective spot treatment, sometimes referred to as an “ice watch.”

This means ongoing monitoring and documentation of any refreeze-related risks caused by damaged or faulty infrastructure (i.e. broken downspout, clogged drain, etc.), with a focus on reducing the need for additional de-icing applications.

Ice Melt From The Service Company Of Virginia

During the coldest months of the year, the best way to reduce the chances of someone slipping on icy surfaces is with treated rock salt and premium ice melt products from The Service Company of Virginia.

The Service Company of Virginia is a leading supplier of Ice Melt: bulk and bag rock salt, magnesium chloride pellets, and calcium chloride pellets in Richmond, VA.

Our full-service snow and ice management services include:

  • Fast delivery of the highest quality ice melt salt available at competitive prices
  • Application of ice melt products at your facility
  • Develop customized snow and ice management plan for your business

Our products are designed for commercial and industrial customers concerned about safety measures, so call us to discuss the options available to best meet your needs.

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