Brought to you by Secure Winter Products.
SOUDERTON, Pa. -- As the variety of de-icing and anti-icing materials has grown in recent years, convenience-store owners and managers are tasked with balancing the pluses and minuses of the solutions available. Which are most effective—and most cost-effective? What are the environmental impacts of the material used? How quickly and conveniently can the material be applied?
Tracking Damage Inside
For most c-store decision-makers, a key consideration is how de-icing and anti-icing materials affect the flooring and carpeting inside the store. It's more than just an issue of appearance: When some materials are tracked into a building, they can cause permanent damage, increase maintenance costs and pose a health risk to shoppers and employees.
Two of the most commonly used de-icing materials—sodium chloride and calcium chloride—can cause permanent damage. Sodium chloride, sometimes referred to as rock salt, leaves a white residue that can dull the finish of wood floors and cause them to splinter. Carpeting exposed to sodium chloride can develop dry rot, fading the color.
When calcium and magnesium chloride-based products are tracked into a store, they coat floors with an oily residue that damages wax and urethane finishes. They also make hard-surface floors slippery, putting shoppers and employees at risk for slip-and-fall injuries. These materials also degrade carpets by wearing out carpet fibers and attracting dirt.
To protect against floor and carpet damage, frequent upkeep is required during snow and ice events, which costs time and money.
"When granular ice melt is tracked into a building, it can cause permanent damage, increase maintenance costs and pose a health risk to shoppers and employees."
An alternative to these granular de-icing materials are formic technology-based liquid de-icers. Their neutral pH formulations eliminate tracking, reducing near-term labor costs associated with manual cleaning, estimated at $50 per entrance per day, according to the International Sanitary Supply Association’s Clean Management Institute. In the long term, this reduces the need for full strip and recoats of floors, which represents a significant financial investment.
Granular ice met in your entryway is messy. A choride-free, liquid deicer, Entry eliminates the unsightly residue tracked into your store during a snow event. With Entry, you can get rid of salt and melt ice quickly and safely.
Damage Outside to Surfaces and Environment
It is understandable that de-icing and anti-icing materials that are meant for outdoor use can be damaging to carpeting and floors when tracked indoors. But, the salt residue left over from many products can also cause permanent damage to concrete, asphalt, pavers and metal light fixtures and railings. Calcium, sodium and magnesium granular chloride products are all hydroscopic, meaning they draw moisture from the atmosphere. If they seep into groundwater supplies or wash into lakes or streams, they reduce available oxygen levels, harming aquatic wildlife. Salt-based ice melters also erode soil, kill plants and burn grasses.
Formic technology de-icers are 100% chloride-free and are readily biodegradable. They are safer for water, plants, concrete, asphalt and metals.
While potential damage inside and outside is critical, I haven’t forgotten about the importance of creating a safe environment for pedestrians.
An important aspect of making walkways and parking lots safe is the time required to ensure safe walking surfaces. Chloride-based granular de-icers take three to five minutes—sometimes more—to achieve an acceptable melt. By contrast, liquid de-icers based on formic technology quickly and reliably remove thin layers of ice and prevent new snow and ice from accumulating. In fact, some formic technology de-icers have a speed of melt of about 30 to 50 seconds by reducing the freezing point to temperatures as low as minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
Determining the cost-effectiveness of a de-icing material requires considering a number of factors: speed of melt (discussed above), amount of material required to create a safe surface and the physical application process itself. Ease and speed of application combined with reduced transport and loading costs make using liquids extremely attractive from a labor perspective.
Using granular products can be very labor-intensive, slowing the application process and negatively affecting safety in high-traffic pedestrian areas. For example, on stairs, applicators have to carry heavy bags, spreading material by hand. In larger areas and walkways, push spreaders are often used.
Liquid applications are far more efficient. Liquid tanks fill quickly, and today’s spray applicator technologies are convenient and easy to use, providing for very precise application rates.
The low quantity of liquids required to produce an adequate melt combined with the ease and speed of application makes most liquid de-icers more cost-effective than granular products. Most users will achieve a lower application cost per 1,000 square feet with liquids than with granular de-icers. And because the liquid achieves a melt three times more quickly than granular products, it creates a longer-lasting and safer walking surface.
So when deciding what kind of de-icing material to use this winter, retailers can cost-effectively create a safer environment for people inside and out while reducing damage to store carpeting and floors, as well as the environment outdoors.
Nate Clemmer is CEO of Secure Winter Products, makers of Entry de-icing and anti-icing fluid.