Winter ‘A-Salt’ – Why to Not Use Rock Salt on Concrete this Winter

Winter ‘A-Salt’ - Why to Not Use Rock Salt on Concrete this Winter

Let’s face it. Snow is a hassle. When it comes down, it can come down hard, and before you know it your driveway, sidewalk and patio is covered in feet of the white stuff. Then comes the ice, and depending on the temperature and density, ice can be even harder to remove and more dangerous to navigate.

To quell these issues, many people spread rock salt in an effort to melt the ice, and although they may be making a dent, they are also destroying their concrete. That’s right, although you may see it on your city streets, the effects of rock salt can be devastating on your concrete surfaces.

Winter ‘A-Salt’ - Why to Not Use Rock Salt on Concrete this WinterWhy?

Because although concrete appears rock solid, it is actually very absorbent, as Ask the Builder notes. This feature is usually beneficial, especially for keeping driveways and sidewalks clear of water after a storm, but can lead to issues in the winter months.

When your driveway or sidewalk is covered with snow and ice, it is already covered in moisture, although in a form that isn’t liquid and absorbable. When you add rock salt onto it, it melts, and this moisture then seeps into the concrete where it sits. As the temperature drops again, the absorbed water refreezes, and the resulting crystals in the concrete grow and expand to such an extent that it can lead to cracks and breaks in your concrete apart.

It sounds extreme, but it is a real problem. It’s even more of a problem for new concrete. The rule of thumb is to let new concrete cure for at least 30 days as it is still very saturated with water during the first month. Even in the following weeks, the concrete is at its most permeable, which means that using rock salt on new concrete can lead to increased damage.

So what can you use instead?

Many experts suggest sand due to its cost and protective qualities. Sand reduces your costs because it generally is less expensive and won’t leave you open to needing concrete repairs. More importantly, however, is that sand can provide additional traction that rock salt cannot. Sand is also more efficient in extreme cold, which we definitely experience here in Minnesota. When purchasing sand, choose sandbox sand, suggests Bob Vila. Unlike mason’s sand, sandbox sand offers a good particle size and can offer the extra traction you need in the winter months.

Another option is to seal your concrete surfaces, but you need to be proactive and coat before the snow hits. Sealer is a necessary tool for preventing sun exposure, abrasion and, of course, snow and ice. This layer acts as a force field of sorts, preventing moisture from getting into your driveway in the first place. It is always a good idea to reapply sealer every few years as it degrades with time.

If you want more information about concrete safety this winter, call the team at Templin Concrete Construction. As experts in concrete, we can handle your questions and even take care of any needed concrete repairs for your driveway if it has already suffered damage from previous winters. We also now offer snowplowing service, and since we know concrete, you can trust that we’ll take care to protect your driveway while keeping your driveway clear. Learn more by calling us today at 612-388-1945.