With winter comes snow and ice removal. Besides shoveling or using a snowblower, many sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and streets are covered in chemical deicers to melt ice and snow and make concrete safer. However, using deicers on your new concrete could end up severely harming it.
Your new concrete is in its most fragile state the first year after it is poured. It needs time to cure, settle, and gain strength to avoid breaking or cracking in the future. Concrete is durable, but deicers and lack of care can damage projects for years to come.
Why are Deicers Bad?
Ice melters, even ones branded as “safe for concrete”, may be able to get rid of ice to make concrete safe to walk and drive on, but it is at the expense of the concrete’s durability. It takes up to a year for concrete to fully dry out. Deicers are not only made out of chemicals that rapidly disintegrate concrete, but it also generates water that soaks into the concrete, freezes, then expands which results in a variety of concrete issues. After multiple freezing and thawing cycles, concrete can start showing signs of immediate and long-term issues.
What Problems Come from Using Deicers?
Harmful chemicals in deicers attack concrete and can corrode, break, or even disintegrate concrete over time. Chemical deicers are best to be avoided.
Frequent freeze/thaw cycles
During winter, as the temperature rises and falls, concrete absorbs water and then it freezes and expands. This expansion generates pressure that is hard for the concrete to withstand. Deicers force the freeze and thaw cycle to happen less naturally and more often than if the weather just ran its course. This also extends the necessary drying out period of new concrete which results in the potential for more damage down the road.
Scaling on the concrete’s surface
After frequent freeze/thaw cycles occur during winter, concrete reaches a point where it can no longer handle pressure build-up and begins to flake or peel. This not only looks bad aesthetically, but it also exposes the aggregate and makes the concrete weaker.
While a lot of the concrete’s performance relies on the ready mix concrete provider you work with, deicers can also aid in making popouts an issue with your new concrete. During a freeze/thaw cycle, internal swelling of the concrete can result in fragments of the concrete breaking away from the surface, due to breaking from the pressure.
How to Protect New Concrete
There are many methods you can enforce to increase the strength and durability of your concrete while keeping the safety of your family, employees, or customers in mind.
Cure it properly
Curing is essential during a project to maximize the strength and durability of the concrete. This should be done immediately after the texturing of the concrete is complete. Talk with your ready mix concrete company about what methods they plan on using during their curing process.
Apply a concrete sealer after finishing
Concrete sealers are applied to a concrete surface to help waterproof it and prevent penetration of water and other harmful substances. They are clear chemical compound liquids that soak into the concrete and form a protective coating to the surface.
Concrete sealers are chemical compounds that are applied to the concrete surface.
Avoid any deicing chemicals during the first winter
Most deicers contain chemicals that quickly attack and corrode concrete if applied. Common deicer chemicals that have been found to damage concrete include:
- Ammonium sulfate
- Ammonium nitrate
- Calcium chloride
- Magnesium chloride
- Magnesium acetate
- Magnesium nitrate
Substitute a deicer with sand
While keeping your concrete protected is important, so is eliminating slip and fall hazards from ice. Applying plain sand on new concrete can help provide some traction and avoid slippery walks. Sand is the only safe material to make concrete surfaces skid-resistant.
Keep fertilizers away from concrete
Fertilizers often contain ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate which are harmful chemicals that can disintegrate concrete. Avoid using these on our near your concrete during its first year.
Use sodium chloride after the first winter
If sand won’t suffice during your concrete’s second winter, then using ordinary sodium chloride (table salt) is the next best option if you are still focused on protecting your concrete. Sodium chloride is not corrosive to concrete, but still should not be used within the first 12 months after a concrete pour.
Contact a Local Ready Mix Concrete Company
Talk with one of our concrete experts at Liberty Ready Mix if you’re needing help with a project or more information on concrete protection. With over a decade of experience delivering high-performing ready mix concrete to projects in a variety of industries, Liberty Ready Mix has the technology, staff, and equipment needed to ensure your project’s concrete pour goes smoothly!