snow covered ada aluminum wheelchair ramp

Snow & Ice Melt for Aluminum Ramps

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snow covered ada aluminum wheelchair ramp
Snowy ADA Ramp

As a leading manufacturer of stairs and ramps, Upside Innovations understands the importance of maintaining safe, ice-free surfaces. Our aluminum ramps have a knurled decking, providing slip resistance in dry and wet conditions. However, snow and ice build-up on your ramp is a safety hazard and should be removed properly. As you probably know, removal from any metal surface has always been tricky because metal doesn’t react well with salt.

In regions with harsh winters, selecting the proper ice melt is crucial for facility and commercial property managers. We suggest three common ways to minimize any safety issues arising from weather-related problems.

1. A stiff-bristled broom

A simple way to remove any light snow accumulation from the ramp with knurling is to use a stiff-bristled or push broom. The bristles of these brooms are strong enough to remove the snow from the ramp and from the grooves in the decking surface that give the ramp the grip in the first place. On the ramp surface, you will have to push the snow up or down a ramp to a platform or to the ground since the wheel guard at the ramp’s edges will not allow the snow to be swept off the side. Once the snow is on a platform, it can be swept across and pushed off the edge or through the rails. The key to using a stiff-bristled broom is to push hard enough to get into the grooves of the ramp surface and remove the snow, but you don’t want to scrub the surface so hard that you scratch the aluminum. If the aluminum is scratched, oxidation will occur more quickly.

What is Knurling?

Knurling is a manufacturing process that adds traction or grip by cross-cutting smooth metal surfaces, typically resulting in a diamond pattern.
extruded knurled stair decking

2. Effective Snow and Ice Management for Aluminum Surfaces

If the snow and ice are too much for a broom to handle, you may want to think about some chemical snow melt. We do not recommend using common rock salt on the aluminum. Typical rock salt will cause a reaction with the aluminum and will eventually cause some pitting and weaken the structure. We recommend that our customers use a magnesium chloride ice melt for most applications. This is particularly beneficial due to its non-corrosive nature on aluminum, ensuring the longevity and integrity of your installations. As an alternative, especially for government entities or large businesses seeking cost-effective solutions, calcium chloride is a viable option.

Additionally, we have identified the Melt Premium Enviro Blend Ice Melter as an excellent alternative for use on our aluminum ramps. This environmentally friendly product can be effectively applied to snow and ice, ensuring no damage to the metal or concrete surfaces.

Calcium Chloride vs. Magnesium ChlorideComparing the Two Ice Melt Solutions

When choosing between calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, consider the specific needs of your area. Calcium chloride requires less quantity for effective melting and works faster, even in lower temperatures. However, magnesium chloride is more environmentally friendly, posing less risk to lawns, pets, and people.

Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt

Magnesium chloride is gaining popularity as an eco-friendly ice melt solution. It acts quickly, preventing ice formation and leaving minimal residue, thus reducing clean-up efforts. It’s also skin-friendly. However, it’s more expensive than traditional rock salt and only effective at temperatures of 0ºF or above.

✓ Eco-friendly; safe for plants and animals.
✓ Fast-acting with immediate results.
✓ Minimal skin irritation.
✓ Leaves little residue.
✗ Ineffective below 0ºF.
✗ Costlier than calcium chloride.

Calcium Chloride Ice Melt

A common choice among governments and large businesses, calcium chloride is highly efficient, working instantly upon application, and effective even in extreme cold (as low as -25ºF). It’s also more affordable. However, it can be harmful to pets and plants if overused.

✓ Works in temperatures as low as -25ºF.
✓ High melting capacity; acts quickly.
✓ Environmentally safe, according to the EPA.
✓ Less damaging to surfaces like concrete.
✗ Potentially harmful to plant life.
✗ It’s more expensive than most rock salts.

3. Canopy over the ramp.

Of course, the best way to get out of the snow shoveling and ice-melting business is to add an aluminum walkway canopy over your ramp or step.  Our canopy systems are a great way of keeping precipitation off the ramp. They significantly reduce snow and ice build-up and are a great way to finish your project.

No matter what you choose, remove the snow and ice from your ramps, be safe, and stay warm!