Should you use magnesium chloride and calcium chloride for dust suppression in landscaping? 

Dawn KruegerDust Control

dust in hand

Along with being used in winter months for ice management, Magnesium Chloride and Calcium Chloride are frequently employed as dust suppression compounds on unpaved roads, construction sites, solar energy farms, on baseball fields, and even in landscaping. Chlorides have water-absorbing elements that make them suppress dust longer than water alone, and they also provide the bonus of making surfaces harder rather than soft and muddy. All this to say that they are excellent for dust control. However, many people ask which chloride is better and also if they are wise to use year-round for the environment. To help you, we thought of doing a detailed review of both these options. All you have to do is to go through the facts and make the right decision.

Using magnesium chloride and calcium chloride for dust control 

As we just touched upon, magnesium chloride or calcium chlorides are frequently employed as dust control agents because they are both hygroscopic & deliquescent, meaning they can absorb moisture from wet air. This absorbed moisture aids in dust control by keeping the road surface wet enough to retain dust particles in place. Magnesium chloride and calcium chlorides also act as deicers in the winter by reducing water’s freezing point.

Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride have been used on countless kilometers of unpaved roads throughout North America for more than a century as economical and efficient dust suppressors. Both these chemicals can not only control dust in a broad variety of gravel and climatic conditions, but they can also lower the total cost to maintain unpaved roads. Why is calcium chloride so effective in controlling dust and costs? Science and nature.

Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride can be found naturally act in the form of a hygroscopic substance that absorbs moisture in the air and forms a solution that maintains the road wet and dust-free even in dry, hot weather. With repeated, seasonal applications, this moisture bonds fine aggregate granules together, resulting in a compact, hard surface that enhances stability over time.

Dust is quickly inhibited after the first application, and each consecutive application builds on the prior treatment for a cumulative effect. As a consequence, there is more consistency, better road condition, and lower application rates. Furthermore, since CaCl2 reduces the point during which moisture freezes, it may prevent frost damage to roadways, lowering maintenance costs even further.

Drawbacks of using calcium chloride and magnesium chloride 

One of the negative consequences of utilizing magnesium chloride and calcium chloride in dust management and de-icing is that it could harm roadside plants. Salts have a well-documented impact on wayside soils and plants. In reality, when magnesium chloride or calcium chloride is employed as a dust management agent rather than for anti-icing, the potential consequences on roadside soils and plants may be significantly worse. The reason for this is that anti-icing coatings are mostly done on paved streets during the colder months, whereas dust control is done on dirt tracks during the spring and early summer. 

Because wayside vegetation is actively developing and transpiring, the timing for dust control treatments will have a distinct effect. When opposed to deicers, the lack of snowmelt during the dust management season has a significant impact on the concentration and dilution of soil salts. This lower dilution helps prevent magnesium chloride from washing down with meltwater, but it also increases downward leaching into the soil, increasing the consequences on adjacent plants.

Plant roots may absorb chloride after it has entered the soil. When chloride is absorbed by plant roots, it travels up the water-conducting system and collects at the leaf or needle edges. This is where the first signs of die-back appear. After two years of treatment with high chloride concentrations, trees may show signs of harm. To overcome these problems, you should be using high-quality calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, which you obtain from vendors that you can trust. 

What would happen when you use low-quality calcium chloride and magnesium chloride products? 

Leaf blistering, marginal atrophy, and needle burn are some of the effects of chloride on plants. Chloride levels in the soil may have an indirect and direct impact on plant development and survival. Plant development may be reduced at lower chloride content owing to osmosis that interrupts regular water and nutrient intake. Chloride may build up at the edges of transpiring leaflets or the tips of needles at high concentrations, causing foliar necrosis of leaf abscission due to dehydration and/or metabolic disturbances. This might result in branch and tree death. 

Browning of the leaves, starting at the tip or border of the leaf and progressing to the root, is a common sign. The longer the leaves remain harmed, the greater the chloride concentration is. Furthermore, water deficit and dehydration may exacerbate chloride toxicity and inflict much greater harm in dry environments.

Chloride may harm certain plants more than others. Some plants, for example, are classified as halophytes, or salinity-tolerant plants. These plants can be found inside or near marshlands and salty desert settings, for example. The vast majority of plants are not salt tolerant. Halophytes, for example, are thought to make up just approximately 2% of all plant species.

Please remember that no plant is completely resistant to salt damage. Even the most xerophytic vegetation do not thrive in very salty environments, and although plants may endure and manage with salinity, they typically grow better in low-saline environments. This is why it’s so important to use a dust control professional so the chlorides are applied correctly and in the right quantity.

Final words 

While the apparent cost of magnesium hydroxide for dust management may be appealing, it’s crucial to consider the potential impact on native or decorative roadside flora before employing it. It’s worth noting that there are dust-controlling alternatives. Dust management products may considerably decrease dust from dirt tracks while still being ecologically beneficial. Earth bind is not water-soluble after it has dried, so it remains in the roadbed and improves the road foundation with each application.

This article should not discourage you from using calcium chloride or magnesium chloride on your landscape. It is still possible to use these and get their assistance in landscaping design. You just need to be careful to stick to the right products of magnesium chloride or calcium chloride, so that you can end up securing the best possible returns. 

Don’t risk damage to the environment or your landscaping. If you are located in the Mid-Atlantic region including Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia or Delaware, contact Rasevic for a dust control services quote today!