Baltimore, MD- Does salt really hurt the concrete around your home?

The short answer, yes. The old fashioned rock salt is cheap and plentiful but in most cases can damage your concrete driveway, patio and sidewalk. Concrete is porous and when salt is applied it can be absorbed, freezes, etc.- causing flaking and cracking. If the concrete was done properly, the chances of this happening are reduced however in our estimation (based on gut feelings and not facts), 90% of the concrete that we see may be subject to salt degradation!

There are also cases where too much salt can be applied to correctly cured concrete so therefore no sidewalk is immune- we recommend avoiding rock salt in any case where concrete (or pets) are present.

As an alternative, you want to find a product which contains Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium Chloride or (the more expensive) Glycols as the main ingredient. There are several “hybrids” that may contain a mixture of all these materials with some Sodium (salt). They are effective at lower temperatures, reduce the risk of concrete flaking and help reduce the cost vs. pure Calcium Chloride. We recommend testing these hybrid products before broadly applying to concrete areas.

Finally, if you really want to test the limits and choose an environmentally friendly option try: Sugar Beet Juice, Vodka, Vinegar/ water.

Of course don’t forget, sand or kitty litter don’t melt ice but provide traction and are worth considering. It’s what they do in snowier climates and it works just fine!

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