Salt is a versatile mineral, used for a wide range of purposes. From cooking and melting ice to water purification, salt plays a crucial role in our lives.
Now many of you already know that water softeners use salt to soften the water and remove hard minerals. But what you might not know is that you can actually use the water softener salt for other things too.
So, if you’ve been wondering, can I use water softener salt on my driveway, the answer is yes.
Winters are amazing. They’re filled with the warmth and excitement of the holiday season but dealing with snow and ice can be miserable. This is where water softener salt can make your li8fe somewhat easier. Water softener salt can be used to melt and remove snow from driveways. When you add salt to ice, it makes shoveling less hectic. Why?
Well, let’s go back to the basics and understand some basic science. The freezing point of water is 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When your driveway freezes during the colder months, a thin layer of water sits on it. This is what makes the driveway slippery.
So, this water melts the ice underneath while at the same time, the ice underneath keeps freezing the water. Thus, the volume of water and ice remain the same. However, when the temperature drops, the volume of ice increases. Similarly, if the temperature rises, the water increases.
Now, when you sprinkle salt (NaCl), the sodium chloride lowers the freezing point of the water layer on top of the ice. Due to this hack, the ice underneath can no longer freeze the resting water layer on top of it. Since now the water is no longer being frozen, the balance is broken and the ice underneath continues to melt.
So, this way salt can be used to melt the ice on driveways, sidewalks, roads, etc.
Sidewalk salt is a special type of unprocessed salt variant with many added components like clay (calcium chloride), shale and magnesium chloride. On the other hand, water softener salt is usually made up of sodium chloride and similar to table salt. Another alternative to NaCl for water softener salt is KCl (Potassium Chloride). Both sidewalk salt and water softener salt can melt ice and prevent frost heave damage.
Please do not use salt blocks or pellets because they’re too big and will not cover maximum surface area. For this purpose, water softener salt crystals will work best because they’re easier to apply and will cover more area. However, if you only have salt blocks or pellets, you can crush them into fine powder and then use it.
Moreover, before you cover your driveway with water softener salt, make sure you mark each segment. This is because water softener salt is very white and once you throw it on ice, it will be hard to detect. So, you will not know which area you have already covered.
Plus, it’s best to salt your driveway at night to let the salt do its magic overnight. This way you can quickly remove the melted snow in the morning and drive off smoothly, without getting late for work.
Water softener salt is safe to use. In fact, it is a child and pet friendly alternative to road/sidewalk salt. So, if you have kids or pets in the house, it’s better to get a bucket of water softener salt and sprinkle it all over your driveway and sidewalk.
Well, water softener salt is generally a great hack for driveways but it comes with some potential risks\. These are as follows:
- Can Damage Concrete: Salt can damage concrete so if you have a concrete driveway, avoid salting it. This is because the salt will seep into the pores of the concrete and cause corrosion, resulting in bumps, cracks and breaks.
- Can Damage Asphalt: Similar to concrete salt can also damage asphalt. It can cause it to crack and break over time.
- Can Make Effect The Soil: Salt can make the soil unhealthy for plants. Basically, when salt is mixed with water and it thaws, During this process, the sodium and chloride in the salt break up. When these minerals wash on to the ground around the driveway, they seep into the soil where they are absorbed by the plant roots. This can cause toxicity in plants making them brown and scorching.
Here are 5 simple tips to keep in mind when salting your driveway using water softener salt.
- Only salt compacted snow and ice. You should not salt fresh fallen snow because it is just easier to shovel it off.
- Use a salt spreader. Salt spreaders are very convenient than using your hand and make the process efficient. It will disperse the salt across the driveway evenly.
- If you have an inclined driveway. Salt at the top of the incline because as the salt melts the ice at the top of the driveway, the water will rundown with the salt, melting all the ice as it moves down towards the sewer on the road.
- If you’re using salt to deice your driveway, you should also shovel first to remove the ice. So, get rid of the snow before you deice the driveway using water softener salt.
- Snowstorms can lead to a lot of mess. So, always clean up first after a snowstorm and then spread salt on ice to avoid dirty and muddy water.
Water softener salt is an excellent alternative to sidewalk/road salt. It melts the snow and prevents it from freezing on the driveway. But you need to avoid using it if you have a concrete and asphalt driveway. Also avoid using salt to melt ice on driveway if there are surrounding plants and vegetation.
Overall, if you don’t have to worry about these issues, use water softener salt for your driveway!