Winter is Coming: What Shopping Center Managers Need to Know About Today’s Deicing Products

The 2018 Farmer’s Almanac, hot off the presses in mid-August, predicts cold temperatures and above-average precipitation from the Great Lakes to the Northeast U.S.: “Snowier-than-normal conditions are expected,” the annual periodical predicts in its famous long-range weather forecast.

Even if you doubt the veracity of this 200-year-old publication, the fall season’s arrival brings with it one certainty: it is “prep time” for snow and ice removal, meaning now is the time to investigate the array of deicing materials to ensure the greatest possible efficacy at the lowest possible cost.

Shopping center property managers must consider how to deice areas requiring careful attention: wheelchair ramps, wider sidewalks and decorative, sometimes delicate, stone or other custom walkways – while being mindful of deicers’ impact on metals in light fixtures and railings as well as nearby plant life. And, understandably so, managers are increasingly unwilling to accept stained and damaged floors and carpeting due to deicing material being tracked into their establishments.

As we all know, preventative action is much more cost effective than restorative efforts. So, here are the five key performance criteria we believe shopping center property managers need to consider when evaluating deicing materials:

  1. Potential for tracking residue on carpeting and floors: Focus on what we call the “DMZ” zone outside your establishment; 90 percent of granular ice melt tracking on floors and carpets is the result of pedestrian traffic within the first 15 feet of the building entrance. When tracked into a store, sodium chloride granular deicers leave a white residue that can dull the finish of floors and fade the color of carpets. Calcium and magnesium chloride-based products coat floors with an oily, slippery residue that damages wax and urethane finishes, posing a safety risk to employees and visitors. Entry, Secure Winter Products’ liquid deicer, has a proprietary neutral pH formulation that is designed to eliminate tracking, reducing near-term labor costs associated with manual cleaning, estimated at $50 per entrance per day, according to the International Sanitary Supply Association’s Clean Management Institute. In the long term, this reduces the need for full strip and recoats, a significantly higher expense.
  2. Eco-friendliness and non-corrosivity: Calcium, sodium and magnesium granular chloride products are all hydroscopic, meaning they draw moisture from the atmosphere. Such materials are harmful to pets if swallowed, and certain chloride-based products like calcium chloride can seriously burn the paws of animals. In addition, chlorides will dehydrate turf and ornamentals and cause desiccation. If leached into waterways, they reduce the available oxygen levels, leading to the death of fish and aquatic plants. And, chlorides are corrosive to metals and, to varying degrees, to concrete and will reduce the functional life of structures such as railings and doors. Entry, which is based upon formic technology, is 100% chloride free and is readily biodegradable. It is safer for pets, plants, metals and concrete.
  3. Speed of melt: While chloride-based granular deicers take a minimum of three to five minutes to achieve an acceptable melt – and as much as 10 minutes – Entry quickly and reliably removes thin layers of ice and prevents new snow and ice from accumulating. In fact, it has a speed of melt of about 30 to 50 seconds. With Entry, the freezing point is reduced to approximately minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius).
  4. Ease of application: Ease and speed of application combined with reduced transport and loading costs make using liquids extremely attractive from a labor perspective. Using granular products can be very labor intensive, slowing the application process and negatively impacting safety in high-traffic pedestrian areas. In many areas, such as stairs, applicators have to carry heavy bags, spreading material by hand. In larger areas and walkways, push spreaders may be utilized. But, liquid applications are far more efficient. Liquid tanks fill very quickly, and today’s liquid applicator – i.e., spray – technologies are accessible and easy to use, providing for very precise application rates.
  5. Cost-efficiency: The low quantity of liquid Entry required to produce an adequate melt combined with the ease and speed of application makes this liquid deicer more cost-effective than many granular products. Most users will achieve a lower application cost per 1,000 sq. ft. with Entry than with granular deicers. And, because the liquid achieves a melt three times more quickly than granular products, it creates a longer-lasting and safer walking surface.

When it comes to preparing for and cleaning during a snow event, you can now accomplish the same three objectives as for your general cleaning: appearance, health and human safety and asset preservation.

Related Story