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Cement Walkway Care - Rock Salt Damage

by Stu Preston on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 2:10 PM

The most damaging thing that can be done to concrete is to apply rock salt to the surface during icy conditions.

Rock Salt Hurts Your Cement

Here's how the damage happens: As we all remember from our grade school

science classes fresh water freezes at 32°F, salt water at zero. To change state from a solid to liquid water must absorb energy. Additionally water is one of the few compounds that expands when it freezes.

Pitted Cement

pitted cement walkway
By putting rock salt on ice you are making the ice to become salt water and
change its state from solid to a liquid. In order for this to occur it must absorb
energy and most of that comes from what it is touching - the concrete!

As the concrete gives up its energy the concrete becomes colder, freezing the
freshwater encapsulated in the surface. As the freshwater encapsulated in the
surface freezes it expands, bursts thus breaking off a small area.

This process can be repeated redundantly as the air temperature fluctuates and/or more salt is applied or dissolves.

Rock salt is fine for pavement, but concrete is a no no. For your concrete walkways or patios, use a calcium based ice melt product. 

Need more Info?

Check out our hardscaping services page you would like more info about care for your cement walkways or would like like more info about our various hardscaping services.

Additionally, please feel free to contact us for a free quote or to discuss your landscaping plans.

Stu Preston

Hardscaping related blog posts to include any posts about landscape masonry, pavers, decks or any non-living landscaping.