Magnesium Chloride Anti-Icing Spray

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magnesium chloride anti-icing sprayHow does your department of transportation deal with winter? Do they use a magnesium chloride anti-icing road treatment ahead of a snow storm?

I am a chemist. I live where it snows a number of times each year. Road safety requires local transportation departments to plow during storms. Their efforts are enhanced if preparation is made beforehand. One way to accomplish this is by spraying roads ahead of time with anti-icing spray.


Spreading sand does help traction, but it doesn’t prevent or eliminate ice. There is another reason to use something besides sand. Has the reader heard of sandblasting? Particles of sand are blown against a surface to clean it. In fact, it is used to blast away paint from a painted surface. Is that what you want for your automobile?

Salt and Calcium Chloride

Rock salt or halite (NaCl) has commonly been used to remove snow. Another compound frequently used is calcium chloride (CaCl₂). These compounds can accomplish the job. But they are not as good as magnesium chloride (MgCl₂). NaCl and CaCl₂ attack the metal surfaces of cars and bridges. They affect the environment. In fact, a war enemy might spread salt to make land unsuitable for use¹.

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride solution is applied before a snow begins. The water evaporates, leaving a white film on the road. Snow melts at 0º Celsius (32º Fahrenheit). However, magnesium chloride depresses the freezing point of water. So any water forming at the boundary between snow and the road does not so quickly turn to ice. This makes road cleaning easier and driving safer. Magnesium chloride is less harsh on cars, bridges, and the environment.

¹ compare the Bible, Judges 6:45.


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2 thoughts on “Magnesium Chloride Anti-Icing Spray

  • I did not realize this chemical was used on the ice on roads but I do know that Tex Dot uses sand trucks and I would think this chemical magnesium chloride is being used to some extent. It is surely an improvement on using salt that can ruin paint jobs on motor vehicles on bridges and freeways during extreme winter weather. I found this article informative and it piqued my interest.

    • Thank you kindly, Anthony. Your comment is highly valued. It’s nice they’re using something on the roads that actually makes sense. Magnesium, you doubtless know, is the metal atom in chlorophyll, anyway.

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