Rock salt tops the list as the most common de-icing chemical used in the US. In fact, road salt use reports show that at least 10 million tons of rock salt are spread per year.
You’ve probably heard of the freeze-thaw cycle – a major cause of damage to concrete and other construction materials. And by dumping rock salt on driveways and roads during winter, the freeze-thaw effects of concrete are propagated, making concrete prone to cracks.
How the Damage Occurs
The de-icing procedure uses various ice melts, including chlorides, sulfates, and silicates of sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium. But generally, rock salts are the preferred choice for many due to their high efficacy, affordability, and availability.
Again, rock salt aggravates the freeze-thaw cycle, with the damage occurring when hydrated compounds are absorbed before further penetrating, freezing, and expanding porous materials like concrete. Temperature variations play a massive role in bringing about such effects.
In other words, it’s the hygroscopic nature of salt that causes concrete deterioration. A hygroscopic compound has excellent water adsorption and absorption abilities, meaning it can draw water from the atmosphere and surroundings. That translates to water accumulation, which leads to concrete spalling as there is barely room for thermal expansion and contraction.
Carbonation also facilitates concrete deterioration. It’s the chemical reaction between salt and air that occurs when the air in carbon dioxide penetrates porous concrete. Additionally, rock salt is also mildly acidic, and the carbonation can somehow corrode concrete reinforcement.
Rock Salt Alternatives
To protect concrete from rock salt damage, here are alternative de-icing approaches you can consider:
1. Alternative deicers
Consider relatively less harsh ice melts such as calcium chloride, which is less susceptible to freeze-thaw cycles. Other safe de-icing products include salt-free deicers, calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), vinegar, coffee grounds, and wood ash.
2. Heated mats
Also known as snow-melting mats, heated mats are portable, pocket-friendly, and less labor-intensive as they only require plugging in. However, they only cover smaller spaces compared to heated driveways.
3. Heated driveway systems
Heated driveways have more curb appeal and are less labor-intensive. The catch? They are relatively more expensive as their systems require more advanced installations. These systems are available in two distinct categories: electrical current and hydronic tubing systems.
Tips to Protect Concrete from Rock Salt Damage
Here are some options worth looking at when looking to prevent rock salt damage on concrete:
A water repellant sealer is ideal for preventing melted ice entry into porous concrete. It creates a hydrophobic barrier that effectively prevents freeze-thaw damages that often result in concrete chipping, cracking, and spalling.
Further, densifier sealers such as sodium or lithium silicate react with the concrete to form a hardcore structure that prevents moisture penetration and increases the concrete’s compressive strength.
Protective concrete coatings such as acrylic sealants act as shock absorbers, preventing concrete deterioration. In other terms, they help absorb most, if not all, of the exterior abrasions brought about by rock salt.
Proper drainage systems can also aid in averting rock salt damage. Correct installation of these systems does away with stagnant melted water that invites concrete deterioration.
Concrete flooring and coating require professional installation, especially if you’re looking to maximize their durability. We strongly advise against DIY concrete flooring installations as several vital factors such as preparation time, application, and clear coating, are often overlooked.
Therefore, you might want to consider hiring concrete flooring professionals. You’ll get to save yourself a lot of money, which could have otherwise gone to expensive repairs accompanying poor work quality. After all, experts know the appropriate cement content, water to cement ratio to use, and so forth.
Best Concrete Coatings in the Northern Wisconsin Tri-State Area
At Armor Coating, we boast professionals who have the expertise in establishing concrete coating flooring systems. In addition, we employ specially developed products and can handle it all – warehouses, garages, car parks, plane hangars, and so on.
Our experts are ready and available round the clock to serve you. Contact us to get a free quote.