Bagged Salt Isn’t Always the Best Choice For De-Icing

As winter approaches, we all anticipate the beautiful, white snowscape that transforms our surroundings into a magical wonderland. However, along with its beauty, snowfall brings some treacherous conditions, particularly for drivers and pedestrians. Many turn to rock salt salt as the go-to de-icing solution, but is it really the best choice? Let’s discuss.

The Common Practice: Salt for De-Icing

Rock salt is a widespread solution for combating slippery, icy surfaces during the winter months. It works by lowering the freezing point of water, essentially melting the ice or preventing it from forming. For many, this is an easy and convenient way to ensure safety in snowy conditions.

However, despite its popularity rock salt is not without its drawbacks.

Downsides of Using Salt

Firstly, the environmental impact of rock salt is considerable. Salts can leach into the ground, disrupting vegetation and contaminating groundwater. This can harm local wildlife and, eventually, find its way into our water systems.

Secondly, salt is corrosive. This can lead to premature degradation of our pathways, driveways, and even the undercarriages of our vehicles. The costs of these repairs can soon add up and become a significant financial burden.

Lastly, salt only works effectively at certain temperatures, above 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Below this, the de-icing capabilities of rock salt become significantly less effective.

Alternatives To Salt For De-Icing

Recognizing these drawbacks, many are exploring alternatives to bagged salt for de-icing. These could be more environmentally friendly and effective in both low and high temperatures.

  • Calcium Chloride: A potent alternative to rock salt salt, calcium chloride absorbs moisture from the environment and heats up, effectively melting the ice. Its ability to work at much lower temperatures than rock salt, and in lesser quantities, makes it a favorite for many. However, like rock salt, calcium chloride is potentially harmful to the environment and can cause corrosive damage.
  • Magnesium Chloride: This offers similar benefits as calcium chloride but poses fewer risks to the environment and is less corrosive.
  • Beet Juice: An innovative solution that’s gaining popularity is the use of beet juice, often mixed with small quantities of traditional de-icing salts. This substance lowers the freezing point of water and, thanks to its sticky nature, stays on roads for a longer time. Moreover, it is entirely biodegradable and non-corrosive.
  • Sand and Coffee Grounds: A green and economical alternative is to use sand or coffee grounds. While they will not melt the ice, they can provide much-needed traction on slippery surfaces.


While rock salt salt may be the conventional choice for de-icing during the winter months, it’s worth considering some of the more eco-friendly and potentially effective alternatives available. Not only can these help reduce environmental damage and slow down the degradation of our infrastructure, but they may also work more effectively at varying temperatures.

What Is Rock Salt, And What Is It Used For?

Also known as “Halite”, bagged salt is a mineral that has a long history of usage across various cultures and industries. It tastes like table salt and looks like large crystals. But what exactly is bagged salt, and how is it used? Let’s delve into this fascinating mineral.

Understanding Bagged Salt: An Overview

Salt is the mineral form of sodium chloride (NaCl). It’s found within sedimentary rocks and gets mined in various parts of the world, including the United States, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Available in a variety of colours, from colourless to white, red, grey, brown, yellow, and blue, it gets its colouration from impurities and the surrounding soil.

The Formation Of Bagged Salt

Bagged salt is usually formed from the evaporation of salty water found in seas or saltwater lakes. Over hundreds of thousands of years, the areas turn dry and leave behind large deposits of minerals, including salt. These deposits are then buried under sediment layers which, over time, turn into the bagged salt deposits that we mine.

Main Uses Of Salt

  • Deicing: One of the most common uses of bagged salt is in the de-icing of roads and walkways during winter. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, thereby preventing ice formation, and helps in melting existing ice.
  • Cooking: Although table salt is more common for cooking, bagged salt has its place in the kitchen. It’s often used in cooking methods such as salt roasting, where food is either cooked on a bed of salt or enclosed in a salt crust.
  • Health and Wellness: rock salt is also popular in health and wellness practices. Therapeutic salt rooms or caves use bagged salt for its reported health benefits, ranging from improving skin condition to easing respiratory problems.
  • Salt Lamps: Carved blocks of bagged salt can also be used as lamps, where a bulb inside heats up the rock, releasing negative ions believed to have health benefits.

The Impact Of Bagged salt

Despite its benefits, the use of bagged salt doesn’t come without any impact. The primary concern associated with bagged salt is environmental.

  • Environmental Impact: When used as a de-icer, bagged salt can find its way into water systems, causing salt pollution that harms wildlife and affects drinking water. It’s important to be careful and conscious about the amount of salt used for de-icing purposes.
  • Corrosive Effects: Bagged salt can be corrosive to certain metals and concrete, causing damage to infrastructure and vehicles over time.


Bagged salt, or halite, is a versatile mineral with a wide array of uses spanning industries such as culinary, wellness, lighting, and winter road safety. Despite its usefulness, it’s crucial to use bagged salt responsibly, considering its potential environmental and corrosive impacts.

Pros And Cons Of Using Salt Brine For De-Icing

With winter on the horizon, preparations for snow and ice management are underway around the world. The fight against icy surfaces involves an arsenal of tools and strategies, a popular one being the application of a particular saline solution commonly called ‘SB’. However, like all methodologies, it has its advantages and drawbacks. Let’s delve into the details.

Understanding The Use Of Saline Solutions For De-Icing

Before exploring the pros and cons, it’s necessary to understand how SB plays its role in de-icing processes. It works by decreasing the freezing point of water, so ice and snow melt even when the temperature dips below the usual freezing point. It’s a simple yet fascinating demonstration of the power of chemistry in our everyday lives.

The Advantages Of SB In Ice Control


The foremost benefit of using salt brine solution is its effectiveness. It works rapidly to de-ice surfaces and provides a certain level of ice prevention when pre-applied before a storm.


The ingredients for creating this solution are readily available and affordable, making it a cost-effective approach to ice management.


Because the primary ingredient is abundantly available, it’s possible for just about any cold-weather city, town, or village to manufacture its own SB for de-icing purposes. This strategy cuts shipping costs and supports local economies.

The Downside Of Employing This Saline Solution

Environmental Impact

While salt brine is an effective de-icer, it has drawn criticism for its environmental impact. As the mixture runs off roads and sidewalks, it can seep into the soil, affecting local ecosystems by elevating salt levels in nearby water bodies. This, in turn, can harm plants, fish, and other freshwater species.

Infrastructural Issues

Over time, this solution can cause significant wear-and-tear on infrastructure. It’s notorious for speeding up rusting processes on vehicles, and its effect on concrete and metal structures is equally corrosive. Thus, regular use can shorten the lifespan of infrastructure and increase maintenance or replacement costs.

Health Hazards

Continuous exposure to high salt levels can also pose risks to pets and humans. Pets walking on treated pavements can get irritated paws. For humans in direct contact with the substance, it can cause skin irritation and, if ingested in substantial amounts, severe health issues.

Striking A Balance

Like all issues of public safety and infrastructure management, using this saline solution for de-icing involves a delicate dance of compromise. From an economic and logistical standpoint, the benefits are clear: it’s an affordable, readily available solution to a persistent problem. However, we must consider the broader environmental, infrastructural, and health implications.


The use of SB for de-icing is a practical, cost-effective solution with some significant drawbacks. By recognizing these trade-offs, we can work towards finding a balance, creating wintry landscapes that are safe to navigate and less damaging to our environment.