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Is frozen water 'harder' than frozen water+ice melt?

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by Chip Ice, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. Chip Ice

    Chip Ice Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    This is only my second post, and I searched around a bit in these forums but did not see any answer to this question regarding sidewalk/public area commercial ice removal. My apologizies if there is a giant thread of people ranting back and forth about this. If so just point me there :)

    I work at a ski resort. One my department's many duties is snow and ice removal of sidewalks (miles of), wooden walks(also miles of), wooden steps (lots and lots of...) even asphalt areas. This ice storm we got last week, well... what can I say? 4 to 5 inches of ice, 8 inches in some places. I've spent 24 of the last 64 hours slamming a 5 foot ice pick into the ground.

    It's not easy. We've lost a couple guys to dehydration or exhaustion, I called out one day because my shoulders and arm muscles were just through and my hands couldn't grip anything. Another guy tore his elbow to hell with all the repetiive pick-slamming. But, we got it done like we always get it done.

    I've been doing this kind of work for a few years now, and what seems to happen is this:

    If you go out and try to break ice that has never had any chemicals put on it, it acts like regular ice. You take a good heavy pick with about a 45 degree angle on the blade, throw the pick straight down with your hand around it so you can control it, but not so you catch the shock, and the ice will split if has some place to split to. In other words, if you slam the pick down in the middle of a hundred square feet of 4 inch thick ice... not much is going to happen. But, if you do the same thing in a spot six inches from the edge of the ice, then it will fracture and break. So you work your way forward breaking pieces say a foot wide, six inches from the last break.

    Now, if you go and throw ice melt all over the ice, and then come back later and try to break it, something completely different happens. No matter where you are, even right at the edge of the ice where it would normally fracture easily... when you slam the pick into the ice, it just busts an icepick-blade-edge-sized chunk of ice out. The ice seems much less likely to fracture in a desirable way that would result in getting the job done.

    Now we're looking at another ice storm coming this way. The plan is to try to pre-treat as many areas as possible with magnesium flakes and pellets, so here is my question:

    What is the difference, from an ice-picking-fracturing point of view, between 'natural' frozen water and water that has had magnesium, calcium etc. dissolved in it and then has refrozen?
  2. golden arches

    golden arches Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    Notice that you haven't have many replies on this one.. Might be an engineer out there that has the answer.. I'd contact the manufacturer of the chemical you use and ask him the question.. then share the answer with us.
  3. fms

    fms Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 209

    Not an answer to your question, but it may help with your situation.

    I had one of my guys decide that he didn't want to shovel, so he walked around the account for 12 hours spreading calcium pellets on the sidewalks. By the time I got in the next morning there was 5 inches of ice on all the walks. The snow and sleet that had been falling all night was melting and then re-freezing... solid.

    I had to lay calcium HEAVY to degrade the ice and then use a pick to break the it into pieces.

    If you're laying down calcium and the snow or freezing rain is coming down hard, it's important to scrape down what the calcium loosened up. If you don't, you end up worse off then if you had left it alone.
  4. Chip Ice

    Chip Ice Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Yeah, I guess I should mention that for everyone else that may be new to using calcium chloride especially. If you you accidentally end up with a pile of the stuff that gets water, it's going to turn into something a lot like limestone :) It's almost as hard to chip away a pile of that stuff as it is ice. I'll keep looking researching the more technical aspects of this, a good answer could save us a lot of hard labor.