Do Salts (Mag Chloride) damage my concrete?
When winter rolls in, it’s common to see road crews spreading magnesium chloride to combat icy conditions. While it helps keep the roads safer, there’s a lesser-known side effect that can cause serious damage to your concrete surfaces. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how magnesium chloride can sneakily wreak havoc on your concrete over time and why it’s essential to stay vigilant.
Here’s the scoop: Magnesium chloride has a unique ability to attract moisture from the air. When it’s applied to concrete, it sets off a chain reaction. It pulls in moisture, creating a damp environment. And that’s when the trouble starts. The presence of water triggers a chemical reaction called the Osmotic Effect. It causes the water within the concrete to expand and contract repeatedly, weakening its structure. Eventually, you’ll start noticing cracks, spalling, and deterioration.
Now, let’s talk about the dreaded freeze-thaw cycle. When magnesium chloride absorbs moisture and seeps into the concrete, it infiltrates the pores and capillaries. During freezing temperatures, the trapped moisture turns into ice and expands, putting pressure on the concrete. When the ice melts, it leaves behind voids and empty spaces within the concrete. This ongoing cycle of freezing and thawing wreaks havoc on your concrete, causing internal damage and compromising its strength.
Hold on, it gets worse. Magnesium chloride is also notorious for speeding up the corrosion of reinforcing steel within your concrete. As those chloride ions from the magnesium chloride penetrate the concrete, they come into contact with the steel reinforcement. This unholy union triggers corrosion, leading to the formation of rust. Rust takes up more space than steel, so it exerts pressure on the surrounding concrete, causing cracks and spalling. This corrosion weakens your concrete and could result in costly repairs or, in extreme cases, structural failure.
Unfortunately, the damage caused by magnesium chloride doesn’t stop there. As moisture and chloride ions penetrate your concrete, they eventually make their way to the surface. When the moisture evaporates, it leaves behind unsightly white, powdery deposits known as efflorescence. These deposits not only mess up your concrete’s appearance, but they can also lead to surface scaling and discoloration over time.
Now that we know the sneaky ways magnesium chloride can harm your concrete, let’s focus on prevention and protection:
a. Limit the Exposure: If possible, try to avoid using magnesium chloride near your concrete surfaces. Look for alternatives like calcium chloride or sand for deicing purposes.
b. Act Fast: If magnesium chloride accidentally comes into contact with your concrete, don’t delay. Rinse the surface with water as soon as possible. This quick action helps minimize exposure and potential damage.
c. Seal and Maintain: Give your concrete an extra layer of protection by applying a high-quality concrete coating. This barrier can help fend off moisture and chloride penetration. Regularly inspect and maintain your concrete surfaces to catch any signs of damage early.
While magnesium chloride might seem like a winter lifesaver for road conditions, it poses a serious threat to your concrete surfaces. The chemical reaction, freeze-thaw cycle, corrosion of reinforcing steel, and surface damage caused by magnesium chloride can lead to costly repairs and compromise the integrity of your concrete. By being aware of these risks and taking preventive measures—such as limiting exposure, acting quickly, and maintaining your concrete—you can keep your surfaces safe and ensure their long-term durability.
Looking to protect your concrete and save big over time? Contact Coating Kings, Colorado today!
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