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What products should I use to deice my driveway made of paver or concrete slabs?

December 15, 2020

Let's be real: our Canadian winters are pretty challenging especially when it comes to the maintenance of our driveways or walkways. A period of warmer weather followed by a cold front can lead to the formation of ice patches which can become a real hazard. As a result, many of us are left with walkways and stairs needing to be deiced.


To avoid injury, you must deice your paved surfaces! Careful! You do not want to use just any product! Which are safe for your pavers, slabs or concrete steps? Anti-slip products, abrasives, deicing salt, super deicer, calcium or magnesium chloride... Here is a useful summary to enlighten you on the subject!




Know that slabs and pavers used as flooring products are made to resist all kinds of weather conditions and climates. That includes our harsh Canadian winters! When it comes to deicing walkways or driveways however, it is best to limit the use of certain deicing products as they could contribute to the deterioration of the concrete. 


Actually, if used in excessive amounts, most deicing products can contribute, over time, to the premature wear of concrete surfaces and the corrosion of nearby metal objects. These products are also harmful to the environment and can harm surrounding vegetation. 



If you must use deicing products in order to melt the ice, always go for sodium chloride (good old regular salt) instead of calcium chloride or magnesium chloride. Salt is the least damaging to concrete products and its effectiveness is proven down to -10 ° C. However, be sure to use it sparingly and preventively, such as before a snowstorm, as it dissolves in water and creates a brine that keeps snow and ice from sticking to the concrete. Sodium chloride also melts ice by lowering the freezing point of water. 



If you need something that will work for extreme cold (below -10°C), you could consider the judicious use of an abrasive mixture composed mainly of dry sand containing a low percentage of salt (3 to 5%). The sand provides a good grip immediately and the salt melts the ice and snow slowly but surely. When it gets colder, the sand is the only ingredient actively working. 



The use of a more vigorous product such as calcium chloride is possible, but it must be used with caution and in exceptional cases only! Using magnesium chloride, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs. 

To be used in moderation - if used judiciously and in moderation, harmful side effects can be greatly reduced. The key to success: the right amount of deicer at the right time.


  Benefits Drawbacks
Sodium Chloride (salt) The least damaging deicing agent Not very efficient below -10°C
Calcium Chloride Efficient down to -20°C To be used judiciously and in moderation since it could damage your pavers and harm the environment
Magnesium Chloride To be avoided! Will damage your concrete surfaces



The use of a gentle abrasive can be considered... but not just any product! The best abrasive you can use is good old natural sand. This method is without a doubt the most popular and the best option to preserve the good condition of your paved surfaces. It does have a few disadvantages though as it cannot actually melt the ice and can be messy. 



The golden rule to keep your driveway free of ice is prevention! When it comes to deicing products, it is better to be safe than sorry: a small amount must be applied before or at the beginning of a significant snowfall or ice storm to prevent it from sticking to the concrete. By following this advice, the ice will not completely melt but you will have a much easier time removing it with a shovel or a snow scraper made of hard plastic, while also reducing the risks for your paver and the environment. 


No matter what deicing method you choose, remember to plan ahead and be diligent with it!


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Yvan Bolduc 

General manager


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