Salt is one of the cheapest and most effective ice removal methods, but in situations where you’ve run out of rock salt, you can easily use water softener salt to melt the ice on your sidewalk or driveway.
Does water softener salt melt ice? Yes. Like rock salt, water softener salt can also melt ice by decreasing the freezing temperature of water in ice. However, rock salt melts ice faster than water softener salt.
When salt is introduced to ice, it mixes and dissolves with the partial water in the ice. This then causes the ice to melt by reducing the freezing temperature of the water in ice.
Water Softener Salt vs Rock Salt for Melting Ice on Sidewalks
Rock salt, also known as sidewalk salt, is commonly used for melting ice on roads, sidewalks, and driveways. Because it isn’t processed, rock salt is less pure and often contains minerals, dirt, and clay.
Compared to water softener salt, rock salt melts ice a lot faster due to its small crystals. Water softener salt is bigger in shape and also more expensive. A 100 kg bag of water softener salt sells for $50 – $100, while you can literarily get a ton of rock salt for the same price.
Finally, even though they’re similar in certain ways, you can’t use rock salt in your water softener system. Don’t put rock salt in your water softener device.
The Main Purpose of Water Softener Salt
Water softeners work on the basis of ion exchange technology in which positively charged mineral molecules (ions) in hard water are attracted by the negatively charged molecules (anions) of the resin beads inside the system. Water softener salt is responsible for recharging these resin beads to keep the operation going.
This salt is very similar to the one we use in cooking. In other words, it’s just normal salt chemically known as sodium chloride (NaCl) only that cooking salt contains iodine and less impurities than water softener salt.
You can use water softener salt to melt the ice on your driveway since it lowers the freezing temperature of water in ice. However, it’ll take longer than rock salt to melt ice.
Also note that water softener salt costs ten times more than rock salt, so using it to melt ice on your driveway isn’t really economical.