Magnesium chloride is a highly effective ice melter that won’t damage wooden decks and steps. Standard ice melt salt will damage, discolor, and corrode wood. So, avoid using rock salt, table salt, or other similar products. Magnesium chloride has several other advantages over traditional ice melt. First, it melts ice at low temperatures where rock salt stops working. Second, it’s safe for pets. Finally, it won’t damage or discolor concrete, so you can also safely use it on your driveway as well.
Is Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt Safe for Wood Decks?
Magnesium chloride is so safe for wood that it is the only deicer we recommend for melting snow on wooden decks. Unlike other deicers, magnesium chloride won’t cause wood to crack, discolor, or break down. Plus, magnesium chloride continues to melt ice even in temperatures as low as -10℉ (-23℃). In comparison, rock salt loses most of its effectiveness once temperatures get down to 10℉ (-12℃).
- Magnesium chloride is the safest ice melt product for wood decks and stairs.
- This magnesium chloride ice melt is safe for wood and concrete.
- Rock salt and other deicers will cause wood to crack and discolor.
- Magnesium chloride remains effective at lower temperatures than traditional ice melt products.
An added benefit of using magnesium chloride to melt snow on your wooden deck is that it can help protect the hardwood floors in your home. Tracking magnesium chloride ice melt into your home when you come in from the outdoors won’t damage the floors in your home. If you use other deicers, tracking them into your home can discolor and harm your wooden floors.
- Melts snow and ice in frigid cold temperatures (as low as -10°F).
- Safe for pets and the environment and won't harm paws or plants.
- Small, round pellets make for easy dispersal on driveways and steps.
How Do You Use Magnesium Chloride to Melt Ice and Snow on Wood?
Using magnesium chloride to deice your wooden surfaces is as simple as sprinkling ice melt pellets onto your deck and steps. You can use a spreader for large areas, but it’s simple to spread magnesium chloride by hand or with a scoop. You don’t need a thick layer—sprinkle the ice melt so the pellets are as close as the salt crystals on a pretzel.
- Use a spreader, scoop, or even your hand to sprinkle wood decks and stairs with magnesium chloride pellets.
- Evenly sprinkle the pellets—you do not need to cover the boards in a layer of magnesium chloride.
- Spread magnesium chloride when snow is in the forecast so the snow will melt as soon as it lands.
Although you can spread magnesium chloride on top of snow and ice to melt it away, it’s even more effective if you spread ice melt on the wood before the snow arrives. This will melt the snow as it lands. Then, you can spread more ice melt on top of any snow that remains. This method results in a thinner layer of snow that is quickly melted away.
What Ice Melt Products Will Harm Wood?
Ice melt products containing salt—such as rock salt, table salt, Epsom salt, and water softener pellets—will all harm wood. Additionally, homemade liquid ice melts made with rubbing alcohol or vinegar will damage wood. The most common signs of damage from using a harmful deicer are discoloration and dry, cracked wood. Discoloration often appears as lighter patches on the wood. The cracks in the wood develop because harsh deicers pull moisture out of the wood, causing it to shrink and split.
- Salt products including rock salt and table salt.
- Rubbing alcohol.
- Calcium chloride.
- Potassium chloride.
Calcium chloride and potassium chloride are less common deicers that are safer for wood than traditional salt, but they still have the capacity to discolor and dry out wood. It’s best to stick with magnesium chloride when melting ice on wood. It is the gentlest ice melt for wood decks and steps.
Is Sodium Chloride Safe for Wood?
Sodium chloride—which is salt—is very unsafe for wood when used as a deicer. Whether you are melting snow on your deck or trying to melt away a thick layer of ice, avoid using any deicers with sodium chloride. Using sodium chloride will result in blotches of discolored wood, as well as splitting wood boards.
Does Salt Damage Wood?
All forms of salt are harmful to wood deck boards, stairs, and even some composite decks. It does not matter whether you are using rock salt, table salt, Epsom salt, or any other type of salt—all of them will damage wood. Although it is essential to keep your wooden steps ice-free so you can safely enter and exit your home, salt is not the answer. You will do so much damage to the wood that you may have to replace the boards, which can be expensive.
What Ice Melt is Safe for Wood?
When choosing a wood-safe ice-melting product, remember these facts:
- Magnesium chloride is the best ice melt for wood.
- Wooden boards will not be damaged by magnesium chloride.
- Magnesium chloride is also safe for pets and concrete surfaces.
- Salt, calcium chloride, alcohol, and vinegar will all damage wood.
- Wood damaged by the wrong deicer will become discolored and develop permanent cracks.
- If wood is severely damaged by the wrong deicer, you may have to replace the boards.
If you have any wooden surfaces that require deicing in winter, keep a magnesium chloride ice melt product on hand. Don’t wait until cold weather arrives—store some deicer so you’re ready for any early snowstorms.