F.A.Q. Should rock salt be use to de-ice sidewalks and other concrete surfaces in the winter?
Answer: Rock salt can be one of concrete's worst enemies. Avoid using it on your concrete sidewalks, driveways, and patios this winter. Concrete is a very durable building material. It can be one of the longest lasting surfaces that you can use for your home or business. However, its useful life can be significantly reduced if you do not recognize its limitations. Concrete, just like many other materials, is subject to expand and contract depending on the temperature outside. Your concrete contractor will put expansion joints where appropriate to make up for this fluctuation. When you spread rock salt on your concrete it melts the snow and ice but allows water to enter the concrete. If the temperature then drops and the water freezes, the growing ice crystals can blast apart the concrete and give it a “flakey” appearance. Unfortunately when the flaking begins, it continues until you have someone resurface that area.
Salt is also hygroscopic which means it attracts water molecules. Salt can cause concrete to become more saturated with water than it would otherwise. The presence of this extra water in freezing conditions can cause trouble. The volume of water increases by nine percent when it freezes within the concrete matrix. The pressure of the growing ice crystals can cause the surface of the concrete to fail.
So when trying to protect your family and customers from slipping on ice, try sand or other materials that increase traction. Also shovel sludge and ice off highly trekked areas so it does not refreeze. Summit Concrete services many residential and commercial customers to fix damaged walkways and unsightly patios.