Wintertime Woes: Reasons Why Salt on Asphalt and Concrete Should Be Avoided

As Winter’s fluffy white flakes fall onto your pretty new or used driveway, be sure to have an alternative to salt when prepping for the stuff that sticks.

Salt can cause damage to asphalt and concrete surfaces due to its chemical properties and the freeze-thaw cycle. Here are a few reasons why salt should be avoided:

1. Corrosion of reinforcing steel: Salt contains chloride ions, which can penetrate the asphalt or concrete and reach the reinforcing steel within. This can lead to corrosion of the steel, weakening the structure and potentially causing cracks and spalling.

2. Surface damage: Salt can cause scaling and pitting on the surface of asphalt or concrete. When water containing salt freezes and expands, it exerts pressure, leading to surface damage and the formation of cracks.

3. Discoloration: Salt can also cause discoloration of asphalt or concrete, leaving behind white or grayish stains. These stains can be difficult to remove and may require professional cleaning or resurfacing.

4. Environmental impact: Salt used for de-icing purposes can also have negative effects on the environment. When salt is washed away by melting snow or rainwater, it can contaminate nearby soil and water bodies, harming plants, aquatic life, and ecosystems.

To protect concrete surfaces from salt damage, consider the following alternatives:

1. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA): CMA is an environmentally friendly de-icer that is less corrosive to the asphalt or concrete compared to salt. It is effective in melting ice and snow, but it may be more expensive than salt.

2. Sand or kitty litter: Instead of using salt, you can use sand or kitty litter for traction on icy surfaces. These materials do not melt the ice but provide grip and improve safety.

3. Proper sealing: Applying a high-quality asphalt or concrete sealer can help protect the surface from water and salt penetration. Regularly resealing the asphalt or concrete can help maintain its integrity and prevent damage.

4. Heated Driveways: Opting for a heated asphalt driveway is a great investment and upgrade to your home or business. Research and/or speaking to a qualified professional is suggested to weigh out your pros and cons before moving forward with your project.

5. Mechanical removal: Instead of relying solely on de-icers, consider using mechanical methods like shoveling or snow blowing to remove snow and ice from asphalt and concrete surfaces.

By avoiding the use of salt and opting for alternative de-icing methods, you can help preserve the integrity and appearance of your asphalt and concrete surfaces.