Tricks of the Trade

How to choose the best ice melt

Heather Mahr, a Ferguson author

by Heather Mahr


Winter weather in cold climates brings snow, sleet and freezing rain. When temperatures drop, this winter precipitation can quickly turn into ice on sidewalks and walkways. That’s why it’s critical for property managers and facility maintenance professionals to minimize the risk of slip and fall injuries by using the proper ice melt. Because some ice melt is better suited for certain climates and surfaces, picking the right ice melt for your facility can be challenging. Find out what you should consider when buying ice melt, and use the chart below to help you choose the best ice melt for your facility.

3 questions to consider when buying ice melt

  1. Is endothermic or exothermic ice melt better suited for my facility? The answer depends on the climate in which your facility is located. The chemical composition is what makes ice melt either exothermic or endothermic.
    • Exothermic ice melt contains calcium chloride, which releases heat when it comes in contact with water.Exothermic ice melt is effective down to -25 F, making it ideal for extremely cold climates.
    • Endothermic ice melt contains sodium chloride, which absorbs heat in the atmosphere. This ice melt is better suited for climates that have milder winters.
  2. What type of surface will the ice melt be used on? Ice melt is available in a wide range of chemical compounds, making some ice melt better suited for specific surfaces over others. Consider what your building’s exterior walkways are made of to prevent corrosion from ice melt. Surfaces that can be damaged by ice melt if used improperly include:
    • Wood
    • Metal
    • Asphalt
    • Concrete
      • While you should exercise caution when applying ice melt to concrete in general, it is not recommended to use ice melt on concrete less than two years old at all.
  3. What are the unique needs of my facility? When choosing which ice melt to buy, consider the specific needs or features of your facility. For example, if you manage a multifamily property that is occupied by small children and pets then it’s best to use ice melt that is labeled as nontoxic. If you want to protect you facility’s landscaping, pick an ice melt that is safe to use around vegetation. Ice melt that is labeled as environmentally preferred is suitable for any facility that is concerned with having a low impact on the earth.

Ice melt varieties and qualities

Heather Mahr, a Ferguson author

Heather Mahr

As a writer, Heather is dedicated to providing readers with valuable information. She is passionate about helping people find the answers they need to make their life easier with her words.