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Will Rock Salt and Deicer Damage Your Asphalt?

by | Dec 14, 2018

Winter driving in Michigan can be an adventure. Thankfully, property managers and public authorities are quick to deploy precautions including salt, sand, and de-icing products. Along with plowing, these steps help to keep roads clear so vehicles and pedestrians have good traction where it counts.  

But what effect do these products have on asphalt surfaces? Are they safe to use, and what alternatives are out there?

First of all, in general, salt and deicer will not directly damage or deteriorate asphalt. This is in contrast to concrete, which is susceptible to the acids from rock salt and deicing chemicals if exposed over an extended period of time. But asphalt is more durable, flexible, and chemically resistant, giving you less to worry about. 

However, there are still plenty of reasons to use snow melt products sparingly, on an as-needed basis:

  • Pothole formation and damage as a result of the Freeze-Thaw Cycle may actually be exacerbated by the use of salt and other de-icing chemicals, including calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and acetates like calcium magnesium acetate (CMA). These compounds lower the freezing point of water, keeping it in liquid form at colder and colder temperatures to prevent icing. Unfortunately, this lower freezing point keeps the freeze thaw cycle active well into the heart of winter, instead of only around thaws and cold snaps.
  • Once the snow melts, salt and other deicers run off in the form of liquid water, seeping into soil and running into storm drains before eventually finding their way into local water bodies. These compounds have a damaging impact on plant and animal life and are impossible to remove once water or soil become over-saturated. 
  • Salt and deicers also encourage corrosion on metal surfaces, including cars and exterior building components. Limiting their use helps limit the damage your property will experience over time. 
  • Because dark compounds absorb sunlight, causing them to get hotter faster, asphalt is much better than lightly-colored concrete at melting snow naturally during sunny weather, without the use of heavy salting or other artificially produced products. 

As always, be careful when clearing the snow from your asphalt surfaces, as ploughs and even shovels may catch on bumps or cracks, resulting in damage. For fast and experienced asphalt repair or a free evaluation of your West Michigan drive or parking lot, please contact the experts at Stripe-A-Lot by calling 616-772-2559 today!

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