Liquid Deicing vs Salt: Which Method is Best?

Icy sidewalk needs salt and liquid deicers in winter


Deicing roads and sidewalks during the winter isn’t an option; it’s absolutely crucial for the safety of drivers, pedestrians, and anyone out on the road. Deicing products come in many forms, with rock salt and liquid deicer both being common. Each of these products has its advantages and disadvantages, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. It pays to have both options on hand so that you can use them each in the situations they’re best suited to! Here’s what you need to know about solid salt vs liquid deicer.


When it comes to dealing with icy roads and sidewalks, you have two options– treat ahead of time, or treat after the fact. You can also choose to do both! Rock salt and liquid deicer can both be used to pre-treat surfaces to help prevent ice from forming in the first place. For this application, however, you’ll find that liquid products are a lot more effective and offer better coverage than rock salt. When you’re choosing to pre-treat, go with liquid!

Existing Ice

On the other hand, when you’re using your deicing products on ice that has already formed on roads and sidewalks, solid salt will be more effective and start melting the ice more quickly than liquid products. In these cases, it’s best to leave the liquid deicer behind and stick to good old-fashioned rock salt!


Cost of product is a major consideration that you’ll have to make as you’re deciding what products to use, when, and how. Rock salt is, as a rule, less expensive than any brine or other liquid deicing product, making it more cost effective to use in large amounts. If you have a major municipal contract or just have a lot of ground to cover for a particular storm, you may find that rock salt makes more sense to use, simply because it will be less of a financial strain than a liquid product will.

Damage Potential

Rock salt can be incredibly abrasive to a lot of different surfaces and materials. As it is spread and later carried around and kicked up by tires and shoes, it can eat through the exterior materials of nearby buildings, do damage to cars and vehicles, kill plant life, and cause cracks in pavement and sidewalks. Liquid deicer, on the other hand, tends to have ingredients added to it that greatly reduce its abrasive properties. When you’re going to be deicing an area like residential spaces or other spots that have lots of potential for damage, a liquid deicer might be a better choice to avoid causing issues down the line.


Not only do you not have to choose to rely solely on just one type of deicing product, sometimes you can even use them together to increase their effectiveness! Adding liquid deicer to your rock salt before you spread it is called prewetting, and it can be a powerful technique to have in your arsenal, especially when you’re dealing with existing ice at extremely low temperatures. Rock salt is only effective on existing ice at temperatures above about 15°F, so if it’s colder than that, it won’t make much of a dent in the ice. However, prewetting the salt with liquid deicer will accelerate the process and negate the effects of the extreme cold.


As you can see, both solid salt and liquid deicer are useful products to have on hand throughout the winter, with each one having its own set of best use scenarios. Interested in liquid deicers? Levan Machine and Truck Equipment can help you with our stock of snow and ice management products, including spreaders, plows, and BOSS VSI Liquid Deicing products. Click here to learn more!