Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dealing With Ice: Ice Melt vs. Rock Salt?

Dealing With Ice: Ice Melt vs. Rock Salt?

The Edmonton area has been experiencing a pretty warm winter. Sure, October was very cold and snowy, but November and December (so far) has been warm and mainly above freezing temperatures. The issue this causes is ICE. Everywhere.

The snow comes, it melts, it freezes, and now we're slippin' and slidin' all over parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, and roads. Regardless of the ice, when enough snow gets packed down, it becomes hard and slippery, making it hard to shovel as well. A solution to ice and slippery hard snow is: rock salt and/or ice melt. A question we've gotten a handful of times is...what's better: rock salt or ice melt? Some people think they are the same thing, but they really are not.

Whether it's for residential use or industrial use, it's important to know what you're putting onto the ground. You should base your decision on the outside temperature, any life that may come in contact with it (children and pets), cost, and surface type beneath the ice/snow.

Let's slide right into the discussion by defining what each ice solution actually is:

Ice Melt


Typically, ice melt is a mixture of calcium chloride (CaCl2), sodium chloride (aka salt), magnesium chloride, and sometimes potassium chloride. Different brands use ingredients in different proportions, thus slightly affecting the results you get; however, all ice melt results will be very similar. Calcium chloride is praised for being most effective, as it is fast at melting ice. It also continually melts for a period of time after application, creating long lasting results. Ice melts can reduce the freezing point of ice up to or around -32°C (depending on the brand/blend/etc) making it beneficial in extremely cold temperatures. This is due to ice melts being exothermic and releasing heat on contact. Ice melts can be found in various forms: pet-friendly, safe for children, environmentally-friendly, and some combined, such our special in-house brand Hot Rocks (pet and plant friendly)! Some ice melts are also coated with Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) to make it safer.


While there are newer and more environmentally friendly ice melt brands on the market, an excessive build-up of certain types of ice melt can be toxic to the environment. While ice melt is an excellent solution to melting ice and snow, it can attract moisture and result in another slippery surface.

Rock Salt

Photo of Rock Salt from: http://syntecchemicals.blogspot.ca/2012/09/are-you-ready-for-winter.html

For decades, rock salt was the hottest product on everyone's driveway, parking lot, or sidewalk. Rock salt is basically table salt in mineral form (aka Halite). When the rock salt is applied, it partially melts the ice, creating a brine (salt and water solution) which flows underneath the ice and separates the bond between the ice and the concrete. The great thing about rock salt is that once brine has formed, ice will be prevented from forming in the future, as long as there is enough rock salt present. Rock salt is inexpensive and easy to apply to any ice surface.



Rock salt loses effectiveness at around -15°C, so unfortunately it does not work in extreme cold temperatures. This is because rock salt is endothermic, so it must pull heat from its surroundings to create brine. Regarding plant and pet-friendliness, rock salt is harmful to vegetation and is not considered plant-safe. Rock salt is also harmful to cats and dogs as it can cause severe burning and irritation if it's caught onto their paws. Pets can also become sick if they eat rock salt. This con can be controlled by knowing where you spread it and that no animals or plants are around the area. Lastly, metals, when exposed to salt, will rust, therefore when vehicles drive over rock salted surfaces repeatedly, there is an increased risk of corrosion on the vehicle.

Comparisons - Which is better?

Both ice melt and rock salt are excellent solutions to slippery surfaces, but the question is... which one is better? Again, this is at the discretion of the user. If you are from an environment that does not experiences extremely cold temperatures, rock salt might benefit you more because it's lower in cost and once applied, prevents more ice from forming, until all the rock salt has left the surface. If you're from an environment with extremely cold temperatures, ice melt would benefit you because it lowers the freezing temperature of ice in extremely cold temperatures. We've created a small list of comparisons for you below:
  • Rock salt is better at preventing ice from forming (anti-icer), while ice melt is better at removing existing ice (de-icer)
  • Rock salt is cheaper than ice melt
  • Ice melt is less damaging to to pavement because calcium chloride has a lower freezing point that slows down the thawing and freezing cycle of ice that damages the pavement below
  • Rock salt is harmful to plants and animals while some brands of ice melt create pet and environmentally friendly ice melt
Thank you for checking out our blog. I hope you enjoyed it and it helps you choose the right ice solution for you! If you are in the Edmonton area, we an Open House event on Thursday, Dec 7, 2017. From 7am to 7pm there will be exclusive one-day-only pricing that we've made in partnership with our vendors. It's also a great opportunity to get to know our amazing staff at Edmonton Fasteners & Tools Ltd. Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What To Look For When Choosing A Snow Shovel

What To Look For When Choosing A Snow Shovel

Living in a world where all we see is a thick blanket of white snow hide the ground for majority of the year; a snow shovel is a necessity. Snow shovels are the easiest and most affordable solution to making sure walkways, driveways, sidewalks, and parking spaces are safe and the most maneuverable. Snow, left untouched and driven over repeatedly will become hard and packed, as well as add height to the ground. This can cause a safety issue, especially if you are parking a tall vehicle inside a garage where the door only open to a certain height. The top of the vehicle could hit the edge of the garage door if the snow lifts it high enough.

Hardened and packed snow is also harder to remove because it has to be cut and cracked into pieces. This is why snow removal immediately after a snowfall is the most ideal. 

Today, we will discuss characteristics of shovels and what their benefits are. People don't realize there are many parts to a shovel that add to the shovel's performance such as: the blade shape, blade material, the handle shape, the handle material, and how the combinations can make your life easier.

The type of shovel you use will determine your snow shoveling experience. There are two options: it can be easy, painless, and efficient, or it can be difficult, cause back and muscle injuries, and take you a lengthy amount of time.


Common body issues that can happen or become worse because of a poor shovel are: back pain, back injury, and muscle strain. Other issues are: shovel is heavy, the grip is poor, handle is the wrong size, the shovel is awkward to use, and the material is brittle.


The best way to fix this is the put time into choosing a shovel. Don't just pick the cheapest or first one you see. You are going to be using this shovel as long as there is snow on the ground, so it's best to choose one that will make your life easier. Here are our tips:
  • Know your height. If you choose a shovel that is too short for you, you are going to hurt and strain your back lifting the full shovel repetitively. If the shovel is too tall, it's going to be difficult to maneuver and get leverage using a handle too long. Different types of handles help with leverage. Below we list the different types of handles.
  • Know your strength. Choose a shovel in proportion to your strength. If you are not able to lift very heavy, don't choose a shovel with a large blade that can grab so much snow that you can not easily lift and toss. Struggling to lift a shovel that's too big and heavy will be counterproductive. In the store, pretend to shovel and look at the material the shovel is made of. Someone who is weaker may prefer a plastic shovel, while someone with a lot of strength will be able to benefit from a metal shovel.
  • Know your grip. Are you able to hold the shovel comfortably with a huge winter glove on? Or are you fingers squished? Using a shovel with the appropriate size grip for your gloved hand will help you when you are shoveling, rather than cause your hand to hurt, cramp, or blister from too small of a grip. 
  • Know your price. Like many products, but not all, price can determine a quality shovel. Choose a high quality shovel over a poor and brittle one. Find one that is reliable for years to come.

Parts of Snow Shovels

In addition to the above tips, there are more specific details that come to choosing the right shovel. We have listed the these below. Enjoy!

Blade Shape

Flat Blade Shovels by Garant
  • Flat. The flat blade shape is best for harder snow. The flat blade is great for cutting through packed snow. Most easily used by shoving into snow, picking up, and tossing.
  • Round/Scoop. These are very easy to use for pushing snow down an entire driveway. Hold at a slight angle to push snow easily to one side. Can also be used to scoop and toss, but used easier for pushing loose snow. 
Round Blade - Garant NPP21KD Snow Pusher, 21" Poly Blade Shovel on Sale NOW (click here)

Blade Material

  • Plastic. Plastic snow shovel blades are convenient because they're lightweight, easy to carry, and can be used for a quick snow cleanup. They come in large and small sizes, and because of the plastic, even the large blades are lightweight. Snow doesn't really stick to plastic, so you can just pick up and toss with less shaking snow off the shovel blade. One downside is that plastic is not as durable as metal. If it gets too cold, depending on the plastic, it can break easily. Using a plastic blade on a rough ground, where there are screws, rocks, gravel, or other bumps, could chip or bend the plastic. You are also not able to chip through ice with the edge of a plastic shovel.
  • Metal. A metal shovel is great for heavy duty durability. They are able to carry heavier loads and can be used to chip ice on the ground. They can handle a rough and bumpy ground without being damaged. The only downside is that they are heavy and  can cause back strain. If you want a shovel with a metal blade, choose one that suits your strength. The larger the metal blade, the heavier the shovel.
  • Combined. This is a blade you've likely seen many times. It is a plastic blade with a strip of metal on the end (often called a Wear Strip). These shovels are great if you want the ice-breaking ability of the metal blade but the lightweight of the plastic blade. For durability, this blade is in-between plastic and metal, with metal being the most heavy duty. Some high-quality shovels allow you to replace this metal strip after it is worn or damaged.
Combined Blade (feature a metal strip) - Garant APP21KDR Snow Pusher

Handle Type

  • Straight. This is the most common type of handle you will find. It's a straight handle that attaches to the shovel and the height varies.
  • Ergonomic/Bent. This shovel features a handle with a bend strategically placed to eliminate having to bend over while shoving. This decreases back strain but makes it more difficult to lift up heavy loads. The ergonomic shape helps for people with back issues, so the trade off is worth it.
  • Dual. This handle is straight but has a branch in the middle where a second handle and grip is located. This allows the person shoveling to be able to use two hands for lifting a scoop a snow. This handle increases leverage making it easier for the person shoveling.
  • Foldable. This handle does not add any abilities to the shovel. It's only purpose is to make the shovel compact and easily stored for emergencies or in bags. The handle folds in half towards the blade to make it half the size.
  • Push Bar. This handle is only found on sleigh shovels. Sleigh shovels stand on their own and are very easy to use. Simply put, the shovel is a large scoop with a flat bottom that sits on the ground. The person pushes on the wide push bar and gathers snow while walking standing straight. Great for people with back issues. This type of shovel, however, is not ideal for lifting, it is just used for pushing snow.
Sleigh Shovel - Garan APS22 Sleigh Shovel, 22" Poly Blade on Sale NOW (click here)

Handle Material  

  • Wood. Wooden handles are highly common and that is for good reason. They are strong, light, and last many years. They are also easily replaceable when they become worn out. Wood handles do require some minor maintenance. Make sure the grip and the shovel blade are on tight by checking the screws (wood grows and shrinks with temperature). Wood handles are not water-proof.
  • Plastic. Plastic handles are great because they are light weight. They are best stored in-doors, as temperature and environmental factors can contribute to brittleness. They can last many years when stored properly.
  • Metal. Metal handles are excellent for lifting heavy loads of snow. While they are metal, they don't get too heavy. Depending on the type of metal, some can bend under lots of pressure. An issue with a metal handle is rust appearing when they are not dried in-between uses. These handles are affordable which is another benefit.
  • Fibreglass. These are the best and most durable types of handles. They are slightly heavier but they last the longest out of all the handle materials. They do not rust, bend, or change with weather. Fibreglass is also very difficult to break.
Thank you for checking out our guide to snow shovels. We have a ton of Garant winter shovels and other tools on sale right now for our Mega Winter Blowout. There are also winter gloves, extension cords, Hot Rocks, and more. Check out last weeks post: The Ultimate Guide to Fastener Materials & Coatings. Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Fastener Materials and Coatings (All You've Ever Need To Know)

Choosing the type of fastener, such as bolt, rivet, screw, clamp, etc. is highly important, what the fasteners is made of makes a huge difference in the performance of the fasteners as well. Fasteners come in all sorts of materials and coatings.The type of material can define what kind of conditions that fastener can be used for. This is because different types of materials offer different properties such as resistance to corrosion, strength, re-usability, stability, and lastly, difference of cost. If you are replacing a fastener, it is important to match what you are replacing with the same material. It's not always safe or smart to choose the strongest or the most affordable material, as it might not be the most compatible or beneficial material for the application.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The BEST Tool Belt! (For Any Trade)

The right tool belt can highly enhance your work experience in whatever trade. Whether you're: a framer, a carpenter, a builder, a roofer, a drywaller, installing siding, concrete, iron, or doing mechanical, electrical, or plumbing; a proper tool belt adds convenience and keeps your necessary tools at reach.

What To Look For

What most people look for is one that would, obviously, hold all of your tools. BUT, what if that tool belt only lasted one month? The kind tool belt you need should also include (no particular order):

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Work Late With The Best Worksite Lighting

October is the month where it's getting darker a lot earlier. This can mean work days can end a little earlier, resulting in prolonged completion of a project. How can this problem be solved? There are extremely bright temporary lighting fixtures you can use to light up majority or all of your work area. They come in tons of sizes and styles, so you can use one suitable for your purpose. Below, we've listed some of our favorite temporary industrial lighting. These can be used for at-home projects as well.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How To: Attach Plug Ends To An Extension Cord

Sometimes an extension cord is perfectly fine and just one or both of the ends are not connecting or are damaged. You might also own a 100 foot cord and want to turn it into two 50' cords. Replacing plug ends is an easy task that can be done by anyone. Whether you need it to plug into your vehicle's block heater or for industrial worksite purposes, these steps will help you get the cord back to doing watt it's suppose to do.

What You Need:

  • Wire cutters
  • Utility knife
  • Screw driver
  • New plug end (make sure you get the correct end)
The female and male plug ends pictured in this post can be found at our store by clicking on each image or click here (they are also currently on BLOWOUT for October 2017!).

http://www.edfast-online.com/Century-Wire-Female-Plug-End-p/cwcrk515c.htmHow to attach a plug end:

1. Find the damage and cut off the damaged plug or damaged piece of the cord. Discard this piece.

2. With your utility knife, make a slice in the jacket about 3/4 inches from the end of the cord and all the way around to remove it. Make sure not to cut any of the three wires inside.

http://www.edfast-online.com/Century-Wire-Female-Plug-End-p/cwcrk515c.htm3. Now that the wires are exposed, with a wire cutter, strip the insulation of each wire around 1/2 inch.

4. Take the replacement plug and open it so you can see the screws inside. Some replacement plugs open in half and some are unscrewed and open up by sliding out of each other. Each screw should be color coded: black, silver, and green. Attach the exposed copper from each wire to it's corresponding color, i.e. black to black, green to green, and white to silver. Attach by wrapping the wire clockwise around the terminal and securing each screw.

5. Close the replacement plug and tighten the screw so the cord held securely.

6. Test the cord by plugging it into a receptacle and using a circuit tester on the other side. The tester will reveal if you have hooked up the wires correctly and the cord is grounded.

Video Demonstration:

Below is an excellent video which provides a visual to the instructions we've provided above.

Check out our full flyer for this month by clicking here! If you have any questions, please comment below or contact us on any of our social media channels, by email, or give us a call at 780-484-3113. We'd be happy to help you! Thank you for stopping by our blog and we'll see you at the next post!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Orbital Sander vs. Random Orbit Sander: What's the difference?

A question we received from our last post (click here) was "what is the difference between an Orbital Sander and a Random Orbit Sander?" While they both sound very similar by name, they are very different.

Orbital Sander

This sander is also known as the finishing sander. It uses a fraction (¼,⅓, or ½) of a 9" x 11" sheet of regular sandpaper that is held by clamps. It's sanding area is shaped like a square

Dealing With Ice: Ice Melt vs. Rock Salt?

Dealing With Ice: Ice Melt vs. Rock Salt? The Edmonton area has been experiencing a pretty warm winter . Sure, October was very cold ...