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Winter months bring potentially hazardous weather conditions to your commercial property. If you have outdoor pavement at your establishment, you want to keep your employees and patrons safe by avoiding ice accumulation in these areas.

In many places, you are even required by law to get rid of icy spots on your property. The standard for melting ice on sidewalks, patios, and more is often laying down rock salt. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, encouraging moisture from snow or freezing rain to melt or remain liquid, even in colder temperatures.

Though this can successfully get rid of unsafe ice on your property, it also could harm your pavement over time. This affects concrete more than asphalt, especially if your asphalt has a seal coating. Read on to learn more about the dangers of rock salt on asphalt and to find other ways to address ice on your pavement.

winter pavement maintenance tips

Why Does Rock Salt Harm Pavement?

A seal coat, a protective layer over asphalt pavement, stops harmful elements from destroying your pavement. But if you do not maintain your asphalt or replace weakened seal coating, your pavement could be in danger.

Freezing and melting of moisture will damage asphalt over time, with or without rock salt in the mix. Moisture seeps into porous pavement, and this freezing cycle makes the molecules expand, creating cracks and other structural issues in the pavement.

Rock salt can stop water molecules from freezing. But it may mean that this moisture penetrates the asphalt as a liquid instead. This risk applies more to unsealed asphalt, but it can mean you face more repairs and upkeep with your pavement. Used sparingly, rock salt on sealed asphalt should be okay, but you should still be careful.

What Alternatives Can I Use to Melt Ice on Pavement?

Though salt will not immediately destroy asphalt pavement, it can damage concrete or harm nearby lawns and landscaping. Fortunately, other methods are available to avoid icy pavement that could put people in danger.

You can try other ice melt mixes that do not contain salt. These will feature calcium, magnesium, or potassium rather than sodium. They can effectively help you avoid ice without hurting your property.

Some people may prefer a non-chemical way to stop ice accumulation on pavement. These options can include prompt shoveling or plowing over the area to get rid of factors that could make the pavement more slippery.

There are also traction elements like sand or sawdust that can make it easier to clear away potential ice or snow build-up. These items will be less messy than other similar options like kitty litter or ashes.

If you have the means, you may want to try designated snow-melting mats on your pavement. These portable items will heat up and melt ice and snow for you, though they could be expensive.

To protect your pavement, you should keep an eye on it too. Cracks, potholes, and other types of damage could mean your asphalt is at risk of more problems during the winter months. Call a paving expert for an inspection if you see any issues.

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