Is Magnesium Chloride a Safe Option for Concrete Deicing?

When winter’s icy grip takes hold, ensuring the safety of concrete surfaces becomes a top priority for property owners. Magnesium chloride has emerged as a popular choice for deicing, but concerns about its safety for concrete have prompted a closer examination. This article explores the effectiveness and potential drawbacks of using magnesium chloride on concrete surfaces, incorporating insights from sources like Sodium Formate, to provide a well-rounded perspective on its suitability as a deicing agent.

Understanding Magnesium Chloride

  • What It Is: Magnesium chloride is a chemical compound used in various deicing products. It’s known for its ability to lower the freezing point of water, effectively melting ice at temperatures as low as -13°F (-25°C).
  • How It Works: It attracts moisture from the air, creating a brine that generates heat and melts ice on contact.

Benefits of Using Magnesium Chloride

  • Lower Environmental Impact: Compared to traditional rock salt, magnesium chloride is less harmful to plant life and ecosystems surrounding concrete structures.
  • Effective at Low Temperatures: Its ability to work in extremely cold conditions makes it a preferred choice in many regions.
  • Less Corrosive: Magnesium chloride is generally less corrosive than other deicers, making it safer for metal components in concrete structures.

Potential Drawbacks

While magnesium chloride offers several advantages, there are potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Concrete Damage: There’s debate over its impact on concrete. Some studies suggest that repeated use can increase the rate of concrete deterioration, particularly in poorly cured or mixed concrete.
  • Cost: It can be more expensive than traditional rock salt, making it less economical for large-scale applications.

Guidelines for Using Magnesium Chloride on Concrete

To maximize the benefits of magnesium chloride while minimizing potential harm to concrete surfaces, consider the following guidelines:

Proper Application

  • Read Instructions: Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for application rates and conditions.
  • Avoid Overuse: Applying more than necessary can increase the risk of damage to concrete. Use just enough to melt the ice.

Pre-treatment Strategies

  • Apply Before Snowfall: Pre-treating surfaces with magnesium chloride can prevent ice from bonding to the concrete, reducing the amount needed later.

Regular Inspection and Maintenance

  • Inspect Surfaces: Regularly check treated areas for signs of concrete wear or damage, addressing any issues promptly to prevent further deterioration.

Rinse When Possible

  • Wash Away Residues: In spring, rinse off any magnesium chloride residues from concrete surfaces to minimize long-term exposure.

Is It Safe for Concrete?

The safety of magnesium chloride on concrete surfaces largely depends on usage and the condition of the concrete. While it’s generally considered safer than other deicers, improper application or excessive use can lead to potential issues. Resources like is magnesium chloride safe for concrete provide further insights into its effects and best practices for use.

By adhering to recommended guidelines and monitoring the condition of treated surfaces, magnesium chloride can be a part of an effective and relatively safe winter maintenance strategy for concrete infrastructures.