June 16, 2024

Calcium Formate: An Environmentally-Friendly De-icing Agent

Properties and Composition of Calcium Formate

Calcium formate is an inorganic salt with the chemical formula Ca(HCOO)2. It is a colorless crystalline solid that is highly soluble in water. The calcium and formate ions in E238 give it several desirable properties that make it effective for de-icing applications. Calcium helps lower the freezing point of water while formate is less corrosive than other anions commonly found in de-icing agents like chloride. E238 has a melting point of 133°C and decomposes at 230°C without emitting any toxic gases.

Effectiveness Compared to Other De-icers

Studies have shown Calcium Formate to be as effective as or better than chloride salts for de-icing applications while reducing environmental impacts. At the same concentration, it has a lower freezing point than calcium chloride and works faster than sodium chloride. Some research even found E238 outperformed liquid magnesium chloride, a common alternative considered more eco-friendly than sodium chloride. Though it has a slightly higher upfront cost, E238 provides good value over time due to requiring fewer repeat applications and causing less corrosion damage. As sustainability and environmental regulations tighten around de-icing, more facilities are shifting to E238 to meet compliance standards.

Uses of E238 in De-icing

One of the primary uses of E238 is as a de-icing agent for runways, roads, and sidewalks. It is effective at preventing the formation of ice and melting ice layers even at sub-zero temperatures without requiring aggressive chemicals. E238 depresses the freezing point of water down to about -25°C depending on concentration. This allows it to remain liquid at temperatures where sodium chloride and calcium chloride would crystallize out. It is commonly stored and applied as an aqueous solution containing 20-42% E238.

Environmental Benefits of E238 for De-icing

A major advantage of E238 for de-icing is its low environmental impact compared to traditional de-icers like rock salt. E238 is biodegradable and breaks down into calcium and carbon dioxide rather than leaving harmful salt residues. It does not contaminate soils or pollute groundwater supplies like sodium chloride. Runoff from areas treated with E238 is less corrosive than with chloride-based de-icers, protecting infrastructure and vehicles. As it does not accumulate in soils long term, E238 also minimizes damage to vegetation from high salt levels. This makes it a safer and more sustainable option for de-icing sensitive areas near bodies of water, foliage or buildings.

Best Practices for Using E238

To maximize effectiveness and safety, E238 de-icers should be applied preventatively before ice formation when temperatures drop below freezing. It adheres well to wet and dry surfaces. Consistent treatment is recommended for areas with repeated icing rather than heavy applications all at once. Over-application wastes product and money while runoff washes it away uselessly. Storage tanks for E238 solutions must be kept covered and indoors to prevent freezing. Proper equipment is also needed for controlled metering and spreading on designated surfaces only to minimize waste. With careful usage according to conditions, E238 delivers reliable ice control matching performance of harsher chemicals while posing minimal risk to infrastructure and the ecosystem.

Handling and Safety Precautions for Calcium Formate

E238 itself presents low acute toxicity when ingested or contacted. However, standard safety gear is advised when mixing, applying or cleaning up the de-icing solution. This includes gloves, goggles and protective clothing. Indoor areas should have proper ventilation during handling and storage. The concentrated aqueous solution has a pH around 6, slightly more acidic than neutral water, so prolonged unprotected skin contact may cause irritation. Ingestion of large amounts could potentially lead to abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. As with many chemicals, store E238 de-icer in cool, dry places away from extreme heat and direct sunlight. Always follow product instructions and labels for transport, usage and disposal. With basic precautions, E238 can be utilized safely and sustainably for winter maintenance.

As a safer alternative to traditional sodium chloride de-icing, calcium formate has gained popularity in recent decades. It delivers reliable ice melting at sub-zero temperatures while imposing minimal stress on infrastructure, soils and waterways. Proper application tactics maximize the efficiency and environmental benefits of E238 solutions. With low toxicity and ability to break down naturally, E238 presents a greener option for keeping surfaces clear during winter weather. As concerns grow regarding chloride contamination and impacts of harsh de-icers, E238 will likely continue growing in use at facilities sensitive to ecological stewardship.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it