Brandi Wright Logo

Back To Blog

Homeowner's Complete Guide to Preventing Slip & Falls and How to Properly Use Ice Melt










This winter has given Colorado its fair share of snowfall, even before Colorado's traditionally snowiest months. With almost guaranteed more on the way, how can you safeguard your sidewalk, driveway, and pedestrian traffic without incurring exorbitant costs for ice-melt damage repairs? Educate yourself on the different ice melt active ingredients and how to properly apply them for minimal to no damage for a stress-free winter and a repair-free summer every year!

Ice melt products fulfill dual roles: enhancing traction and deicing. Traction is improved by simply spreading any product on a surface, with coarser options typically offering superior traction.

Cost-Effective and Non-Damaging Alternative:

Consider using sand as a cost-effective and safe substitute for chemicals, especially for newly installed concrete.

Key Considerations for Ice Melt:

The temperature ratings on ice melt products signify the temperature at which they remain effective in melting ice. Below this threshold, the product primarily provides traction with limited melting capabilities.

Products containing calcium chloride generally have the lowest temperature ratings. Calcium chloride, known for its exothermic properties upon contact with moisture, generates heat to expedite melting. Its inclusion in ice melt products augments the effectiveness of other chemicals by accelerating melting and enhancing their interaction with moisture. While calcium chloride-based products are highly efficient in combating ice, they are usually pricier, offering substantial melting power.

When selecting ice melt products, prioritize those that are pet and landscape-friendly. While most products are deemed safe when used correctly, issues may arise from over-application or concentrated use during snow removal. To prevent overexposure and tracking, remove surplus ice melt from surfaces.

Concerned about potential damage to concrete or metal from ice melt?

Concrete damage linked to ice melt, known as spalling, is often exacerbated by poorly laid concrete. Ice melt can intensify freezing/thawing cycles, hastening spalling. Furthermore, ice melt can induce oxidation in metals, particularly ferrous ones. To mitigate these issues, ensure metal surfaces are well-coated and avert direct contact with ice melt.

For optimal results, adhere to the application instructions on ice melt containers, avoid excessive application, and monitor the accumulation of snow piles containing ice melt to prevent harm to landscaping or metal. Promptly clear away excess product after each snowfall.

Active Ingredients in Ice Melt:

  • Sodium Chloride (NaCl)
    • Commonly known as ice melt salt or rock salt
    • Reduces the freezing point of water, effectively melting ice and snow
    • Helps maintain dry surfaces
    • Economical
    • Enhances traction
    • Corrosive and may harm concrete, wood, and plants
  • Calcium Chloride (CaCl2)
    • Absorbs moisture
    • Generates heat as it transitions to liquid form
    • Melts snow more rapidly than sodium chloride (rock salt)
    • Safe for concrete
    • Effective in extreme cold
    • Caustic and potentially harmful to skin and pets
  • Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2)
    • Requires larger quantities for application compared to calcium chloride
    • Less corrosive than rock salt
    • Regarded as a pet-friendly ice melt option by many
    • Facilitates easy cleanup
  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA):
    • CMA is less corrosive compared to rock salt
    • It is biodegradable and considered to be safe for pet
    • Needs to be applied in the largest quantities compared to other alternatives

Ice melt products often consist of a combination of the mentioned ingredients. Typically, the efficacy of ice melt diminishes in colder temperatures. It is advisable to consult the product label to determine its suitability for your specific climate.

Impacts of Ice Melt:

  • Concrete Damage: After melting ice on concrete surfaces, water can seep into existing cracks, leading to their expansion. Prompt removal of melted ice or slush is essential to prevent such issues
  • Vegetation Damage: Overuse of de-icing products can harm vegetation. Opt for an appropriate product and apply only the necessary amount
  • Corrosion: De-icing chemicals such as sodium, calcium, and potassium chloride can be corrosive to metals. Avoid contact with metal structures or railings
  • Tracking: Excessive ice melt residue can be tracked indoors. Choose fast-acting products that break down easily and avoid over-application to prevent tracking
  • Safety Concerns for Pets and Children: Some ice melts can be harmful to pets, causing damage to paw pads. Opt for pet-safe ice melts that are gentle on paws and non-toxic if ingested or touched


Guidelines for Ice Melt Usage:

  • Proactive Application: Apply the ice melt product at the onset of snow or ice to prevent ice formation
  • Snow Removal: Clear accumulated snow using a snow blower or shovel before applying ice melt
  • Proper Application: Apply the product thinly using a handheld spreader, wheeled spreader, jug, bag, or cup for dry products. For liquid formulas, utilize a garden sprayer free from previous pesticide use
  • Personal Protection: Due to potential skin irritation from some ice melt ingredients, wear gloves and any recommended safety gear
  • Residue Management: As some ice melts can damage concrete and plants, remove any remaining residue post-melting with a shovel and dispose of it appropriately, avoiding accumulation near individuals, plants, or animals


To protect yourself against potential lawsuits effectively, it is imperative to meticulously document every step of the process. This includes thorough documentation through photos, videos, and logs detailing snow removal and ice melt applications, complete with dates, times, and detailed descriptions of the performed actions. If permissible by your HOA/District, consider posting warnings or utilizing hazard cones as additional precautions. Furthermore, documenting the removal of ice melt is crucial to mitigate the risk of lawsuits related to chemical burns or injuries resulting from excessive application.

The Bottom Line:

When ice melt products are utilized following the manufacturer's guidelines, they prove to be highly efficient in safeguarding individuals navigating your sidewalk and surrounding areas. The benefits of correctly applying ice melt far exceed any disadvantages, especially when considering the potential financial repercussions of slip-and-fall lawsuits due to improper usage. Protect yourself and your loved ones by choosing the right product type for your home and follow the manufacturer's instructions for a safe, slip-free winter!

    Add Comment

    Comments are moderated. Please be patient if your comment does not appear immediately. Thank you.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


    1. No comments. Be the first to comment.