Ice melt is typically dry and flakey so you can easily spread it over ice in winter. So if you’ve walked into your garage to find your ice melt bag leaking some sort of liquid, it’s normal to be concerned.
What exactly is this liquid that’s coming out of your ice melt bag, how did it get there and is it toxic?
Ice Melt salts are hygroscopic – meaning they attract moisture. If your ice melt bag is not sealed properly moisture from the air can get absorbed by the ice melt and then leak out the bottom of the bag leaving a liquid spill on your floor. It's just a salt/water mixture and isn't toxic, though it can be difficult to clean.
Dealing with an ice melt bag that’s leaking liquid isn’t fun. Since it does contain chemicals it's always good to be extra cautious when assessing it and cleaning it up.
Let's look in more detail why your ice melt bag is leaking liquid, how you can stop this from happening and also how to go about cleaning it safely.
Why Is Your Ice Melt Bag Leaking Liquid?
Ice melt is usually dry and flakey, so you might be surprised to look in your garage and notice a puddle or stain on the floor surrounding your ice melt bag. Where did this liquid come from and what is it exactly?
It’s highly likely that your ice melt bag is leaking liquid because it isn’t stored properly.
As ice melt is hygroscopic, it’s capable of absorbing large amounts moisture from the air when the bag isn’t sealed properly.
The ice melt will absorb this moisture when the air is humid and then the moisture will collect, mix with the ice melt and then because of gravity it'll start leaking out of the bottom of the bag.
This results in the ice melt turning into liquid and leaking all over your floor.
This liquid isn't dangerous, but it will stain your floor due to the dissolved salts in the liquid.
Some other reasons why it’s melting could be due to the following:
- Your ice melt bag is broken
- Your ice melt bag isn’t made of the greatest quality
All of the above would attract moisture into your ice melt bag and result in caking, clumping and liquid.
Absorption of moisture is one of the main reasons your ice melt clumps and gets stuck together over time.
It’s a common occurrence and easy to stop from happening in future. However, dealing with the gooey ice melt bag liquid and cleaning it up so it doesn't stain your floor or carpet can be a little trickier.
What Is This Ice Melt Bag Liquid And Is It Safe?
The ice melt bag liquid consists of water plus sodium chloride, calcium chloride or magnesium chloride – depending on what salts actually make up your ice melt.
The liquid isn't particularly toxic. However, it's not something you want yourself or your pets consuming or getting on your skin if you can avoid it.
If swallowed it could be irritating and cause stomach distress. While no human would likely swallow it some pets might be inclined to – hence why it’s important for you to clean it up quickly if you have a pet at home.
On the skin or paws it would mainly cause irritation and dryness but nothing overly serious. Still, it’s best to take precautions and wear gloves or protective eyewear when dealing with the ice melt bag liquid.
How Do I Clean The Ice Melt Bag Liquid?
This ice melt bag liquid can be gooey and difficult to clean, so make sure that you’re prepared for that!
The best way to clean up ice melt is using a floor neutralizer. This is a product that is specifically formulate for ice melt salt residues that are left on floors.
It'll take away the salts and won't leave white streaks on your floor once it dries.
For your safety, you should wear gloves and protective eyewear when cleaning up the liquid.
Here’s how to go about cleaning it up:
- Start by using a clean dry towel to soak up all of the moisture in the area. This will work on carpet, tile, wood, linoleum etc.
- Go ahead and make sure you’ve cleaned up any debris around the area as well.
- Select a floor neutralizer that can help with getting rid of ice melt bag liquid.
- Floor neutralizers are great as they are specially designed to dissolve ice melt chlorides along with hard water films and other residues.
- Note: Do not try to use a cleaner with a high or low pH as this could result in potentially dangerous chemical reactions!
- Once you’ve selected your floor neutralizer, properly dilute it according to the instructions before applying it with either a mop and bucket or floor scrubber.
- For the mop and bucket method, you need to make sure that you’re replacing the solution in the bucket with clean water and rinsing the mop every time you use it.
- This is important to avoid re-depositing both salt and ice melt residue back to the floor.
- If you have an auto scrubber, this is the preferred method as it’s extremely efficient and safe. Not only will it apply and remove fresh water in one step, but you won’t have to worry about waiting for it to dry.
- After you’ve finished using the auto scrubber, make sure that you’ve thoroughly cleaned the machine before storing.
Many people have also had success cleaning ice melt stains from their floors using vinegar – which is slightly acidic and seems to work well.
How Do You Prevent Your Ice Melt Bag From Leaking Liquid?
So now that you’ve got an idea of what this ice melt bag liquid is and how to clean it, how do you prevent it from leaking again?
Store it properly
If stored indoors, make sure you’re keeping it in a climate-controlled environment. Great options include the garage, shed or basement.
Ideally you want to keep your ice melt in a dry place away from moisture in the air.
If stored outdoors, place your bags under a tarp and dry surface. It’s important that your ice melt bag is not exposed to UV rays.
Handle with care
When bringing your ice melt bag out of storage, make sure that you’re not damaging the packaging and its contents.
Store in air-tight and leak proof containers
If your ice melt bag is open, store it in an air-tight container to keep it away from moisture and sunlight. It is important that your ice melt bag is fully sealed or it will draw moisture.
If you’re not sure, the rule of thumb is to keep your ice melt bags in an air-tight container. A plastic tub or bucket with a lid is a good options.
You also want to keep your ice melt within a humidity-controlled environment and away from sunlight, moisture and humid air.
Not sure if you’d like to use an ice melt bag again? There are other ways to melt ice without using ice melts or salt!
How Long Does An Ice Melt Bag Last?
When stored properly, ice melt bags can typically last for about two years or so. It’s also important to note that the higher the quality of your ice melt bag, the longer shelf life it will typically have.
Even with high-quality ice melts, optimal storage is still required to ensure that it’ll last for a good period of time – especially during the off-season months.
If you’re worried about using an ice melt bag to melt your ice, there are other ways you can go about melting ice in colder temperatures – and without any heat!
If your ice melt bag is leaking liquid it’s because:
- The ice melt is absorbing a lot of moisture from the air and it's leaking out the bottom
- Your ice melt bag isn’t stored properly
- It’s damaged
- It isn’t of the highest quality
- Not placed in an air-tight container after it’s opened
To clean it, make sure that you:
- Use a towel to absorb the excess liquid
- Use a floor neutralizer
- Wearing the necessary protective gear
- If possible, using an auto scrubber to apply the floor neutralizer