Ice melting salts may reduce slip and fall issues but they are damaging our concrete surfaces.
North America is beginning to see more cities and commercial properties changing from sodium, potassium and calcium based salts to magnesium salts for the purpose of de-icing in winter months. While magnesium is a better ice melter, it is far more damaging to concrete than other options.
Peter G. Snow of Burns Concrete, Inc. in Idaho Falls, Idaho describes the situation well in his article titled: Magnesium Chloride As A Road Deicer: A Critical Review, below:
“While deicing salts containing sodium, potassium and calcium are chemically innocuous to concrete, this is not true of magnesium. The magnesium ions accumulate and react with the cementitious compound calcium- silicate-hydrate converting it to magnesium- silicate- hydrate ( or a mineral called brucite) which is non-cementitious in nature. In other words, a fundamental major mineralogical product of solidified concrete has now been chemically altered (completely changed). Formation of magnesium-silicate-hydrate breaks down the “glue” that binds aggregates together and concrete surfaces begin to deteriorate. The net effect is we now have a chemical and physical attack that concrete is not designed to withstand, nor be subjected to.”
While we can’t likely change the cities mind on what de-icing salts to use, it’s still important to avoid bringing these harsh chemicals in to our garages and places of business.
The solution to preventing contamination and subsequent damage to our concrete surfaces is to either seal, coat or impregnate concrete to prevent penetration of the magnesium chlorides.
If a decorative look is required for a concrete surface it is only an added benefit to use a coating such as epoxy or polyasparctic polyurea as both of these resins are impervious to damages from salts used to melt ice.
When a decorative appearance is not desired, budgeted for or needed, an impregnating treatment that forces a salt resistant chemical into the pores of a slab is a great solution for protecting your concrete from salt erosion.
For surfaces that have already been damaged by salt chlorides, there are many systems available today to repair, smooth and rejuvenate the concrete while also providing a treatment to the surface and beneath that will protect the area from further damage from salt chlorides.
Protect your concrete, especially newer concrete still in it’s curing window, from damage from salt by contacting a concrete surface expert today.