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Pool Salt for Ice Removal: Does It Really Work?

Winter can be a challenging time for pool owners, especially when it comes to managing ice formation. Ice can damage pool surfaces and equipment and can also be dangerous for anyone using the pool area. You might be wondering how you can prevent your pool from freezing or, if it’s already frozen, whether pool salt will melt the ice.

Due to its chemical makeup, pool salt can melt ice because it lowers the water’s freezing point. Although an effective water treatment, it is unsuitable for melting ice in swimming pools, as it can damage concrete surfaces and equipment. But you can use it to melt ice in driveways and sidewalks.

If you have a salt cell generator for your pool, you might have some pool salt left over from the summer. The winter may have brought you something else for your pool: ice. If you’re considering using it to melt the ice, read on to find out the best method for thawing your pool, keeping your pool equipment safe, and what other uses there are for pool salt.

Will Pool Salt Melt Ice?

If you live in an area where winter temperatures of 32°F and below are typical, you will be used to seeing people dump bags of ice melt, sand, and other products on the ground to melt the ice in driveways, on sidewalks, and roads. When the ice melts, the surfaces are no longer as hazardous as before.

What Is Pool Salt?

Pool salt is high-purity sodium chloride, similar to table salt. However, it has no iodine or anti-caking agents and is much coarser. When added to pool water, it dissolves and creates a saline solution. The salt cell generator converts pool salt into chlorine which sanitizes the water. One of salt’s well-known properties is that it can melt ice.

The Science Behind Salt Melting Ice

Different types of salt can be more or less effective at melting ice, but the science behind it is the same for all of them. Salt thaws ice because it lowers water’s freezing point. But for this to happen, there must be a tiny bit of water present, and ice has a thin coat of liquid on it, which is all that’s necessary.

Pure water’s freezing point is 32°F, but when salt or other substances are dissolved in it, it freezes at a lower temperature, known as freezing point depression. The new freezing point depends on the particular substance.

When you add salt (NaCl) to water, it dissolves into its ions, Na+ and CL-, preventing the hydrogen molecules from bonding together to change into a solid form. Adding anything to a liquid will lower its freezing point, regardless of its makeup, but the more particles formed, the lower the freezing point.

How Effective Is Pool Salt At Melting Ice?

Pool salt can effectively melt ice when temperatures are above 15°F, but when temperatures are below this level, they are less effective than other ice-melting agents.

It also depends on the thickness of the ice. You will need more salt to have the desired effect when it’s very thick. Lastly, the more salt you use on the ice, the quicker it will melt.

Melting Ice In Your Pool

A few days of no water circulation in your pool, when temperatures reach freezing point, could leave you with a frozen pool. Standing water will gradually develop a layer of ice on the surface of your pool, which can deepen by ¼ inch daily.

As the water freezes, it puts pressure on the surroundings. This would mean the tiles, lining, or skimmer in an inground pool. Above-ground pools are more at risk of ice damage because the walls could break or stretch from the pressure.

Prevention is always better than cure, so take the following steps to prevent your pool from freezing.

  • Circulating water takes longer to freeze than stagnant water, so keep your pump running for 8-10 hours daily.
  • Keep your pool clean by removing dirt and debris so your skimmer, filter, and drain won’t get blocked.
  • Invest in a pool heater or at least a pool cover.
  • Insulate the pool’s plumbing with blankets, towels, or pool noodles.
  • To protect the skimmer, use a gadget or empty plastic bottle to screw into the skimmer that expands as the water freezes.

If your pool froze despite your best efforts, see to your equipment first by warming the filter, pump, and pipes with blankets, a hairdryer, or heating pads to melt the ice in and around the equipment. Then switch the systems back on to circulate the water.

Can You Use Pool Salt To Melt Ice In Your Pool?

If you’re new to the pool maintenance game and your pool has a salt cell generator, knowing that pool salt melts ice might make you wonder if you can use it to melt ice in your pool. The answer to that is a definite NO!

The purpose of pool salt is to chlorinate your pool, and it should not be used for any other purpose in a pool. A frozen pool will need a lot of salt to melt the ice, increasing the salinity way beyond the correct levels. It could cause corrosion in your equipment and the water to go cloudy.

If your pool freezes during the winter, the best thing to do is leave it to thaw naturally and take the abovementioned precautions to prevent refreezing.

Pool Salt Melts Ice On The Ground

When winter arrives with snow and ice all over the ground, people often rush around to find substances that will help make walking and driving safer.

Salt compounds have long been used to melt ice on the ground in winter, with some salts melting it faster than others. Pool salt is one of the cheapest ways to melt ice in driveways and on sidewalks, which is why people sometimes use it instead of other ice melts. It also creates good traction on the ground. Although it may be cheaper, pool salt can corrode pavements and concrete.

Pool salt, or rock salt as it is also called, is not the only salt compound used to melt ice. Calcium chloride is more efficient in extreme cold, but it can burn your skin and is harmful to pets.

A magnesium chloride blend is the quickest to melt ice, the least harmful to plants and grass, and not as destructive to hard surfaces. But it is the most expensive salt compound among ice melts.

Conclusion

Pool ice will melt ice as it lowers the freezing point of pure water. It is often used to melt ice on driveways and sidewalks and doubles as a traction-creating substance. This makes it easier to drive and walk on the salted ground. It should never be used in a pool for any purpose other than chlorinating, though.