Rock Salt vs Ice Melt

Ice melt

During the winter months, we advise all of our home and business owners to stock up on plenty of ice melt. We hope you avoid those slippery surfaces and protect your property and the people who use it. While many folks assume that “ice melt” is a term for any product used to simply melt ice, we are frequently asked by our customers about the differences between ice melt and another product, rock salt. Our recommendation is to choose ice melt for its high performance and safety on your icy surfaces. At Bortek, we only use the best ice melt to keep us safe, and we will only offer the same for you! However, because there are so many questions revolving around the subject, we have broken down everything you need to know about rock salt and ice melt to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable winter season.

Rock Salt

For years, rock salt had been the “go to” material for melting ice throughout the winter. This material is the mineral form of sodium chloride. Rock salt works by penetrating icy surfaces and forming a solution of salt and water known as a brine. Because brine has a lower freezing point than water, the ice will slowly begin to melt. Rock salt usually contains grit and other bits of gravel that are meant to help gain traction whether it is on a roadway, walkway, driveway or stairs. That is where the word rock in rock salt comes from.

Ice Melt

Ice melt is the most effective ways to ensure the safety of your customers and employees during the winter months. There are a number of different varieties of ice melt but they are primarily comprised of calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride and potassium chloride. Of these, calcium chloride is generally accepted as the most effective. When the ice melt is applied, it goes to work immediately and you can feel comfortable walking on just about any surface.


Rock salt is one of the most affordable methods for melting ice. Rock salt is often widely available, making it easy to stay on top of the ice and winter conditions and maintain the safety of your facility. Home and business owners alike can locate and purchase the material whenever they need it.


Ice melting products can lower the freezing temperature of ice in extremely cold temperatures. You may find products that are able to work down to -25 degrees! Ice melt works fast and effectively. In addition to this, you’ll find a number of types of ice melts, all of which serve distinct purposes. Some are environmentally friendly, some are designed to be safe for children, some have been approved as pet-friendly, and some that do all three.

Things to Consider

There are several downsides to rock salt. One downside is that it only works in temperatures of 25 degrees or higher, just 7 degrees lower than the freezing point. Be advised that in areas where temperatures frequently drop below 25 degrees, it may be in your best interest to go with an ice melt that is effective at lower temperatures.Other considerations include issues for highly vegetated areas. You may want to consider an environmental and plant-safe ice melt as an alternative. Pet owners should also be aware that rock salt can be dangerous when animals are exposed. It could cause burning and irritation, and if ingested could lead to gastrointestinal issues.

Things to Consider

Many ice melt products are safer than rock salt. But just because the bag features a picture a child playing with a puppy doesn’t guarantee that it is safe for children and/or pets. Be sure to read the labels before applying the ice melt to any surface. Another consideration is the price of ice melt products; even though ice melt typically is more expensive than rock salt, it may save you money long-term. Rock salt requires a larger amount to be effective, whereas ice melt is more effective in making each bag last you longer. We highly recommend trying Nature’s Best Ice Melt for the best safety and comfort on your icy surfaces.


Choosing Between Ice Melt and Rock Salt

The material that you choose to protect yourself and your property against icy conditions will depend on your own specific needs.

Home and business owners with special considerations for plants, children and pets, on the other hand, should take a look at ice melt’s designed to address these needs. Be sure to also take your local climate under consideration when making your selection. Should you have any doubts, try it out for yourself!

Want to learn more? Check out these 6 Tips for Using Ice Melt.

Ice melt rock salt janitorial and general supplies