Building Quality Homes Since 1988

De-Icing Chemicals

Caution and Understanding the Use of De-Icing Chemicals

Achieving a quality, long-lasting concrete product is dependent on using good materials, proper construction techniques, and protecting the concrete from adverse conditions.
Exterior concrete surfaces such as pavements, garage slabs, driveways, aprons, sidewalks and gutters, are especially susceptible to adverse environmental conditions when de-icing chemicals are used improperly.

The frequent application of de-icing salts may increase the likelihood of scaling and degradation of concrete surfaces. This is especially true with new concrete surfaces and has resulted in a considerable amount of damage to quality concrete within the first winter season. Once properly placed and cured, the following instructions can substantially reduce the likelihood of, spalling and surface degradation caused by the use of de-icing chemicals:

  • Remove snow and ice manually, as it accumulates, by shoveling, plowing or other mechanical means.
  • Use sand on ice for safety.
  • De-icers containing magnesium and potassium chlorides should be avoided particularly and never use any de-icer that contains either ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate.
  • Wash driveways and other concrete surfaces, whenever the weather allows, to remove salts that drip from vehicles. Many governmental agencies are using chlorides for de-icing roads and bridges, and these are transferred to vehicles travelling on these roads.
  • Be aware that many chemical fertilizer products can be harmful to concrete surfaces. Ammonium nitrate is found in many fertilizers and these fertilizers should not be allowed to remain on surfaces. Flower pots, with soil containing fertilizer, will damage the concrete slab they drain on.
  • Avoid using acids to clean concrete.
  • Membrane sealers (available at local hardware stores) need to be reapplied more frequently than penetrating sealers. Before applying any sealer be sure to consult the product dealer and manufacturer’s recommendations for surface preparation requirements and sealer application procedures.
  • Silane penetrating sealers may provide a longer service life depending on concrete surface exposure conditions. They should be purchased and applied using the same care and approach as described above for membrane sealers.