Salt itself will not cause damage to your driveway. Freeze and thaw cycles that occur naturally throughout the cold season cause damage to your driveway. Melted water soaks into cracks and porous areas of the concrete, then expands when it freezes again. That expansion puts pressure on the concrete, potentially causing more cracks in the driveway.
Salt and de-icing mixes work by lowering the freezing point of the ice, causing it to turn to water. De-icing products with lower working temperatures will help to keep the freeze and thaw cycles to a minimum. Temperatures can vary quickly and dramatically, so there is no guarantee that damage from expansion will not occur. When possible, you should remove snow and ice from the driveway. This will allow the concrete to “dry” between winter weather events. Salt and de-icing mixes will help you to more easily clear your driveway and walkways.
For new driveways, de-icing products should not be used. Concrete that is less than one year old is more porous than more established concrete, meaning that water will find its way into the concrete more easily. The potential for damage from the freeze and thaw cycles is much higher for these driveways.
Salt and de-icing products should also not be used on driveways that use mortar joints, such as brick or masonry stone. These surfaces allow for more water to soak into the material. This potentially causes more damage to the driveway or walkway.
To best protect your driveway and walkway when using salt and de-icing products, you should use the product with the appropriate working temperature. You should also clear your driveway of snow, slush, and any leftover ice once the salt has done its job. Scheduling a pro to apply the salt or de-icer will help you prevent and manage the ice build-up on your driveway and walkways, so you can protect it from winter weather!