Pavement De-icing: How to go “Greener” with Magnesium Chloride Liquids vs. Sodium Chloride Brine

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For over 70 years, we have used sodium chloride(rock salt) to manage ice on roadways. 70 years ago there were only 32,000,000 vehicles on the roadways compared to over 250,000,000 today, an 800% increase. Needless to say, keeping driving surfaces clean has become 10 fold the job as it use to. Chloride emissions have also increased 1000% since those days.

Sodium chloride can damage vehicles, equipment, concrete and especially our waterways and aquifers at alarming rates, up to 2-4 times faster when compared to magnesium chloride.
Magnesium Chloride used as a liquid seems to be the best balance of all worlds for roadway treatments with the least environmental impact. It melts to a much lower temperature and can be paired with carbohydrates to extend its life on the ground. The chlorides emitted when applied properly are reduced by 20-35%?

While there are more chlorides in magnesium chloride than sodium chloride, 75% to 66% respectively, the reduction in the amount needed to de-ice as well as the lower working temperature cut the chloride emissions by ~40% while achieving the same results!

“How you apply it is also important, so they are looking at more efficient application using less salt to do the same work,” he says. “We had this a few years ago with farmers and fertilizer. The run-off of fertilizer was getting into the water. So we worked with the farmers and now they use precision farming techniques — less fertilizers but applied at the right time, the right place, in the right amount. Road managers need to start doing the same thing.”

Sodium Chlorides Magnesium Chloride
Effectively Melts to(°F): +20° +5°
Total % Chlorides 66% 75%

Salt is applied on sidewalks at 40 times the rate of roads and that’s a problem for the underlying soil and water too, not to mention shoes and clothing along with the damage to the walk ways.

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By:Chloride Conscious

Links to the cited studies for this article. Daily Commercial News US National Library of Medicine-National Institute of Health