Choosing a Green Ice Melt Product – Do They Exist? The truth unmasked…


Businesses continue to incorporate sustainable or “green” practices – both those who manufacture products as well as those who use them in facility cleaning programs. There is much more of a variety of truly eco-responsible cleaning products in the market, but when it comes to ice melt products, it is much harder finding a greener option and what actually makes the product more eco-responsible.

How Do Ice Melters Work?

If you are adamant about finding a safer ice melt option, the best way to make your choice is to educate yourself on how ice melters work and what makes a better safer product. Some manufacturers have managed to create a product that is both high performing and more friendly to the environment.

First, ice melting products are designed to melt through the snow and ice and break the bond between the snow and ice, and concrete and pavement. Clear walkways mean the risk of slip and falls decreases which is why we use ice melting products. Plainly put, “Ice Melter is liability insurance in a bag”.

Secret Ingredient

For best results, you want to use an efficient product that melts fast, to a low temperature and lasts longer. These products also typically add less chlorides to the environment making them safer to use.

Manufacturers use a combination of different ingredients to accomplish this task. Products like calcium and magnesium melt fast and to lower temperatures but do not last long. Potassium and sodium do not melt as fast or to as low a temperature but they last longer. Combining these ingredients will allow the components to work together to make a product that will be fast, long lasting and melt to a lower temperature. All of the ingredients discussed so far contain chlorides and make up the bulk of the ingredients in ice melting products.

There are non-chloride alternatives but their short comings prevent formulations from containing large amounts of these ingredients:  Products like urea (only melts around the melting point) is ineffective when used alone. Calcium magnesium acetate is a non-chloride ice melter that is cost prohibitive when added to a formulation at the recommended percentages to be effective.  The truth is there are chlorides in the bag and it’s the chlorides that can be damaging to the environment.

The Simple Truth

By now you are probably wondering “If my choices of effective ice melting products contain mostly chlorides how can I choose one that will use less chlorides and be more environmentally responsible?”

The simple truth….only use products that melt effectively at lower use rates and that are highly visible to prevent over application.  The use of color markers allow the applicator to use less product by reducing over application.  If you can’t see where it is going how do you know how much you are using?  Best practice manufacturers use non-staining food grade marker colours that will break down quickly under UV light.  Effective products contain ingredients with the proper particle size to get the job done but not stick around to be shoveled onto vegetation. They also use additives that allow the product to work faster, to a lower temperature and last longer thus reducing the application interval and amount applied at any one time.

How to Find The Right Ice Melter?

How can one find these products? Consult professionals that are educated about ice melting products and offer products with these attributes.  Try the products yourself, because the real test is seeing an ice melting product work effectively with your own eyes. Swish Account Managers will be happy to present the different options we offer in Canada and the United States based on your application and required melt temperatures.

We look forward to helping you keep your floors clean and safe this winter season. Stay tuned for our next post on how you can trap up to 80% of dirt with entrance matting!

Article is prepared in collaboration with Stephen Hewgill.


Swish Clean & Green

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