One way to reduce the amount of money an end user has to spend on a product, while also improving their environmental footprint, is to coach them on how to properly apply ice melt. That way, they can even choose a less expensive chloride-based ice melt and still do a better job of protecting grass, pavement, metal and animals.

The sloppy nature to which ice melt is distributed is a big issue, says Pannell. Rather than switching to an ice melt that is too expensive for their budget, he says the customer could become more accurate with the application and stop over spreading or double spreading the product.

The intent of a deicer isn’t to melt all of the ice off of pavement, but to penetrate the surfaces so the ice can be scraped off the parking lot or sidewalk. If too much ice melt is left on the pavement for too long, it will cause problems. That’s why end users must be taught to be strategic of where and when they’re placing ice melt.

Getting ahead of the storm with ice melt and then re-applying more as needed is always a smart plan, says Rick Jensen, vice president and chief operating officer at Morgro, Millcreek, Utah. That way, excess product isn’t used, reducing the chances of ice melt burning the environment and budget.

Jensen says it’s sometimes a good idea to pre-treat with ice melt depending on the severity of the weather. That ice melt can then be reapplied later as directed.

“Just make sure to cut short of over-applying,” he says.

Whenever someone is melting snow and ice with ice melt, it’s ultimately going to result in water, if not cured properly. In some areas this will create puddling and possible refreezing. That’s why Jensen recommends not over applying ice melt and taking that water off of surfaces with a squeegee as often as possible.

He also opposes using any ice melt on concrete that’s less than a year old because there’s a risk the concrete is not dried and sealed properly — meaning that the salt has an even easier way to get into the pavement. However, he realizes that it’s hard not to apply anything at all because of liability concerns. So, if ice melt must go down, he recommends proceeding with caution or contacting a concrete contractor.

Getting strategic with ice melt and eliminating the practice of using it too liberally also helps to reduce tracking, which experts say is a serious issue.

“Some of the chlorides — when they come inside of buildings — they collect moisture,” says Clemmer. “[Magnesium chloride and calcium chloride] are really good ice melters, but when tracked into buildings they will attract moisture and create any oily surface on floors due to their hygroscopic nature. This can create a significant slip hazard, particularly on high finish flooring surfaces. To minimize tracking and maximize performance, we only recommend using magnesium and calcium chloride in extreme cold temperatures to break through thick layers of ice and snowpack."

To reduce tracking, experts recommend using an ice melt that is residue free. If the end user is going to use a granular product, then sell them a bag where all the pellets are the same size. That’s because the people who are applying the ice melt will move the ice melt spreader they’re using to a setting that accommodates bigger pellets. As a result, the smaller ones will fall out, creating wasteful over application that could ultimately result in tracking.

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