As the winter season is upon us, you want to be prepared by having deicing product on hand such as rock salt or ice melt. Deicers can help keep you and your family safe from slips and falls. For residential use, generally you can either purchase a rock salt, such as Diamond Crystal Winter Melt OR ice melt, such as Road Runner. The difference is in their chemical composition and how they work to melt ice.

Rock Salt
rock salt

Rock salt, also known as Halite, is the mineral form of sodium chloride. Salt lowers the freezing point of water. Small amounts of salt partially melt the ice forming a brine (solution of salt and water). The solution flows under the ice and breaks the bond between the ice and the pavement. Rock salt works down to 5 F and helps provide instant traction on snow and ice. Here, it could be worth learning the difference between ice vs snow for a better understanding.

Ice Melt

Ice melt, typically, is a blend of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride pellets, and calcium chloride pellets. Calcium chloride is typically regarded as the best performing ice melt for fast melting and long lasting action. It melts to -15 F. Ice melt is sometimes presented in the form of flakes, such as Industrial Blue Ice Melt. It’s a fast acting blended ice melt with calcium chloride flakes for instant melting power. Industrial Blue is sprayed with a blue color indicator for easy and efficient application.

Raod Runner ice melt
Industrial Blue ice melt

Melts down to -10 F.

Pet-Friendly Ice Melt
pet-friendly ice melt

If you are concerned for the safety of your pet, you can choose a 100% organic, all natural, salt free ice melter, such as Safe Step “Sure Paws”. It is composed of magnesium chloride. It is non-toxic, safe for pets and skin, safe for the environment, and less harmful to plants and grass. While being safe, the pet friendly ice melt is also effective and fast acting. It melts down to -15 F.

Here are some helpful tips for using deicing products:

  1. Use shovel or snow blower to clear any snow accumulation.
  2. 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.
  3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use on the package.

For more information on winter supplies, please speak to one of our associates and visit our Winter Supplies Department.

11 Comments » for What Is the Difference Between Rock Salt & Ice Melt?
  1. Thanks for the post. Ice melt is the great alternative to the salt. Its eco friendly and very effective.

  2. Jim and Cathy Pope says:

    Can you use Ice Melt instead of rock salt to make ice cream? It seems like it’s the same function.

  3. Martha says:

    Will ice melt to kill roots in water lines

  4. Peggy says:

    Can you use Morton Rock salt /Ice Cream salt on sidewalks and driveways to help melt snow & ice? I have a box of ice cream salt that we only used once to make ice cream. We shipped the ice cream maker to family in FL…I will ship the salt to them unless I can use it to help melt ice/snow!

    • Weaver's Ace Hardware says:

      We recommended only using specific rock salt (not table salt or ice cream salt) to melt ice and snow. Table salt will still generate a chemical reaction, which lowers the freezing point of the water in the snow. But it is not designed as a rock salt. Rock salt is manufactured specifically to work as efficiently as possible at melting snow and ice and it is mixed with anti-caking agents and other additives to prevent clumping. Table salt/ice cream salt will not work exactly the same.

  5. Peggy says:

    Thank you for your reply!

  6. Terry Guire says:

    As the website link at the end of my comment from the manufacturer shows, Safe Step Sure Paws is actually magnesium chloride, not a crystalline amide with a special glycol as claimed above.

    Please correct the information.

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