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How do I Use Magnesium Chloride for Dust Control?

By V. Saxena
Updated May 17, 2024
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Magnesium chloride is a water-soluble salt used by city, regional, and national agencies, as well as private companies, for dealing with melting ice and dust control. Applying magnesium chloride for dust control entails using a liquid or powdered formula on unpaved or gravel roads, whereas applying it for melting ice requires spraying the formula either before or after precipitation.

When used on roads for dust control, magnesium chloride absorbs water from the air. This in turn reduces the likelihood that dust will fly up when someone drives along the road. It can also be used on tennis courts, construction sites, baseball fields, sandy floors, and inside indoor arenas, such as those used for horse riding.

This compound should be applied at a rate of 2 pounds (0.9 kilogram) per 1 square yard (0.83 square meter) on construction sites, parking lots, and unpaved roads, and then later reapplied at 50% of this rate when the surface has dried. For other surfaces, a rate of 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) per 1 square yard (0.83 square meter) should be used instead. One successful application of magnesium chloride lasts anywhere between 100 to 200 days, during which time the road or arena will seem to have a lot less dust than if it were left untreated.

If used for melting ice on roads, magnesium chloride is sprayed on dry tarmac pavement before precipitation arrives to keep ice and snow from attaching itself to the highway. This makes it easier for snow plows to remove it in case of a storm. Magnesium chloride is also available for use by home and business users, but it is packaged differently. This form is designed to be used after ice or snow has formed.

Agencies used to rely on rock salt and sand to help keep roads clear, but now many have switched to using magnesium chloride because it’s less toxic to animals, humans, and plants. In particular, it causes less skin irritation, it is more environmentally friendly, and it is less corrosive to iron alloys like concrete and steel.

Using magnesium chloride for dust control can improve safety by enhancing visibility to reduce the chance of an accident while also reducing the likelihood of someone being injured due to flying gravel. It also decreases automobile maintenance expenses from clogged components, reduces potential soil erosion from flying dust, and improves air quality.

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Discussion Comments
By shell4life — On Sep 08, 2011

My dad started using magnesium chloride pellets on our snowy sidewalk and driveway. He used to use sodium chloride, but he found that it stains more and is more harsh on the concrete, so he switched.

He also heard that magnesium chloride will melt down to a very low temperature. I believe it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit. It rarely ever gets colder than that here, so it is a great choice for us.

It is awesome not to have to get up at 6 a.m. and shovel snow off the sidewalk. All I have left to do is remove it from my car, but I can deal with that.

By cloudel — On Sep 08, 2011

This summer was exceptionally dry in our area, and this created dusty conditions for the kids on the baseball field. To deal with this problem, the city decided to use magnesium chloride.

Lots of the kids had allergies or asthma, and the dust was so bad that they could barely get through a game. I would sit in the stands and notice by the end of the game that my clothes were covered in dirt. People were afraid to buy food and drinks from the concession stand, because they would be coated in dust before they could finish them.

After magnesium chloride had been applied, it was like they were playing on a field that had recently received rain but wasn’t wet. Even the kids with asthma issues could participate without problems.

By OeKc05 — On Sep 07, 2011

I wish my county government officials had used magnesium chloride when I lived on a dirt road! Our state is poor, and we probably didn’t have the budget for it, but it sure would have been nice!

When I drove down the road, a cloud of dust followed me. If I was driving behind somebody, my vehicle would get coated in their dust. Anything left out in the yard would become dusty as well.

Eventually, my road got paved, which is even better dust control than magnesium chloride! I hope for the other dirt road residents out there that officials will one day use this magnificent stuff on their roads, if they must remained unpaved.

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