Pretreating Made Easy

Today is a great day to close out our series on snow removal! Here in Lancaster County, PA we’re in the middle of an expected 3-6 inches of the white stuff! Our crew is already working hard to make sure all of our snow clients are taken care of and worry-free.

One of the strategies we mentioned in part 1 of this series is pre-treating. Pretreating can be a great tool in your arsenal for combating snow and ice. Especially in situations where ice can potentially freeze onto hard, non-porous surfaces like driveways and sidewalks. Pretreating can save you time and even prevent unnecessary physical excursion that may lead to injury.

Using deicers or salting products can look a little different depending on if you’re tackling a commercial property or a private driveway and sidewalk. Private properties tend to have sensitive surrounding like grass, wood, or pet-friendly areas that all need to be taken into account when choosing what products to use.

Deicer generally works by lowering the freezing temperature of the water in the area applied. Just like how salt water takes longer to freeze than fresh water. There are several different kinds, as explained wonderfully at

  • Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt): This is the cheapest deicing material, but it has a couple of disadvantages, since it only works down to 15° F, it is damaging to concrete and plants, and unhealthy for pets.
  • Potassium Chloride: Works similar to rock salt, is better for areas with warmer winters, and is one of the less toxic options.
  • Calcium Chloride: Works at much lower temperatures (down to -20° F) and is less toxic. One advantage of calcium chloride is that it attracts water and creates heat, which means it will actively dissolve ice rather than sitting on top of the ice.
  • Magnesium Chloride: Has similar qualities as calcium chloride, but works down to about 5° F.
  • Urea: Deicers containing urea or chemical fertilizers may seem good for your lawn, but they’re the most corrosive to concrete and the least recommended of all the deicers.
  • Other Options: There are also a few options for non-chloride based deicers. Safe Paw is an amide-glycol blend that is marketed as salt-free and safe for pets. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), is a more environmentally-friendly deicer made from limestone and acetic acid.
  • Sand and Kitty Litter: Both provide better traction on ice, but won’t actually melt ice.”

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Once you have chosen the correct type for your surfaces, the biggest tip we have to offer is…


The worst thing you can do to your property is to assume you know more than the manufacturer of the products you use. Unless you are a seasoned, certified professional – the directions are there for your best interest. Things that are commonly ignored can include

  • Over applying the product. More does not automaticlly equal faster results. If fact, too much product can be damaging.
  • Not applying to acceptable locations. Roofs, vehicles, and yards have all been victims of irresponsible deicer application
  • Applying after snow or ice has occurred. The whole point is to get the deicer on the ground first so ice does not have a chance to occur or bond with the base surface. Just sprinkling salt on top of a snow pile will not save you any effort of shoveling.
  • Not accounting for melt. Once you’ve taken care of snow or ice and it probably ended up in a pile somewhere on your property, where does it go? Will that pile melt and go downhill? If it does, think about where it’s likely to end up. Sometimes damage can occur days or even weeks after the initial application this way.

Associations and Memberships

Building Industry Association of Lancaster County Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce Techo-pro Contractor Certified ICPI Installer