With the current wintery weather situation in most of the U.S., 49 states to be exact, I felt this was as good a time as any to introduce a ice melting product for our northern friends; Magic Salt. This not-so-new product still seems to fly under the radar, although it is beginning to surface.
I’m sure we are all used to the traditional methods of ice melt such as calcium chloride, liquid calcium chloride and ordinary rock salt. Well, these traditional methods do what there are supposed to (lower the melting point of water), but they don’t do it well enough, and the repercussions from their use are not ideal.
Ordinary rock salt can only melt ice down to about 18 degrees Fahrenheit (18F), which, in many cases the temperature drops well below that and can result in refreezing, and black ice. Calcium chloride, and liquid calcium chloride can melt ice down to below 35F, which is great, but they are very corrosive to equipment, leave white stains on the surface it’s applied, damage/kill vegetation it accidentally touches, and is toxic to handle. Another issue found with the type of application of these products is the common additive of sand, usually a ratio of 6:1 (sand:salt), to assist in tire traction.
The one thing that I think people ignore, is when the weather warms up and everything begins to melt, where do all these ice-melting products go. They go directly into stormwater systems and eventually pour into local bodies of water, or percolate into the underground water supply. Even after season ending clean-up efforts, this overabundance of chloride, and sand can drastically influence the pH levels of the water, negatively effecting water quality and aquatic life. To help quantify this information, the town of Durham, CT, (which is a small town of a little over 6,000 people) for example, will use 500 tons of salt and 3,000 ton of sand in a typical winter season. That is just ONE town, in ONE county, in ONE state. All that just to melt some ice and snow so we can get to work on time?
So why is Magic Salt, so “Magic” you ask? Magic Salt is ordinary rock salt that has been treated with a patented liquid (Magic Minus Zero), agricultural by-product of the distilling process (ever try to freeze a bottle of vodka?), blended with magnesium chloride, resulting in a de-icing product that is non-toxic, bio-degradable and has a corrosion index lower than distilled water. Less Magic Salt is required to displace an equal amount of ice or snow than other ice-melting agents. The need for sand is virtually eliminated, it works longer (practically eliminating re-freeze or black ice), prevents snow from bonding to pavement, making plowing a breeze, no visible residue is left and it will not harm people, or plants. Another benefit is the Magic Minus Zero can be applied as a pre-treating liquid, replacing the need for liquid calcium chloride.
*notice how the pavement is wet on the Magic Salt side?
So not only does Magic Salt reduce the amount of rock salt applied to our roadways, it creates a use of a by-product that would otherwise be waste, is bio-degradable and is harmless to us, our pets, our plants, and our cars. Why doesn’t anyone know about this product? You tell me. So the next time your stuck behind that city truck who’s sprinkling your windshield with tons of salt and sand, remember to make an effort to inform your local official, of Magic Salt. You’ll be doing everyone a favor.
Read more about Magic Salt.
Will Ramhold is a student of Landscape Architecture at the University of Florida and a contributing writer for Landscape Invocation.