Magic Salt: Fact or Fiction????
While there are possible benefits from treating a salt pile with Magic Minus Zero (Magic Salt), several of the claims made on the product’s website are very misleading.
Magic Salt is comprised mostly of chloride salt, with a small portion of biodegradable liquid derived from byproducts from the fermentation and distillation processes of liquor production. Chloride salt is NOT biodegradable. Chloride contamination is accumulative in the environment. In fact, recent environmental studies have shown that salinity in aquatic systems of the rural northeastern United States is quickly advancing toward thresholds beyond which many rural streams will become toxic to sensitive freshwater life and no longer potable for human consumption.1 While Magic Salt can help marginally reduce salt loading, by possibly allowing end-users to apply less, this will not significantly slow the accumulation of chloride in the environment.
Non-Corrosive/Less corrosive than distilled water
As above, Magic Salt is mostly chloride salt. The chloride ion is small and mobile and very electronegative (i.e., chemically aggressive) and its corrosive effects are well known. Any product that includes it as a main ingredient will exhibit those effects. While Magic Salt may reduce chloride loading over straight salt (only in as much as it allows for lower application rates), it is dishonest to claim that "it has no corrosive characteristics at all" as one Magic Salt distributor website did.2 Or that it "will not cause concrete to split or any paved surface to degrade in any way,"3 as Magic Salt’s website does. No deicer can legitimately make that claim.
Rust is a chemical change from metallic iron to the low energy state of iron (iii) oxide. It is not possible for any component of Magic Salt to reverse the oxidation and reduce the oxide back to elemental iron. That said, it is possible to remove (i.e., clean) rust from a surface, and the fermentation byproducts possibly do that (as will beet raffinates and some acids and alkalis). But the metal lost to oxidation is permanently gone. There is no rust "neutralization" reaction occurring.
Safe for Vegetation
Since Magic Salt is comprised primarily of ordinary road salt, any slight advantage of Magic Salt over ordinary road salt will come from the potential reduction in quantity required. Salt does not break down and the harm it causes to plants is well known. The fermentation byproducts in Magic Salt do not protect plants from the harmful effects of salt.
Magic Salt claims a use temperature of "35 degrees below zero". Sodium chloride’s lowest practical temperature is approximately 20°F (-6°C). While the fermentation byproduct will likely have a lower freeze point, it is present at a relatively low concentration. Deicer effectiveness is reduced with decreasing concentration. On Magic Salt’s website, they reference an article that contains this statement: "Charles Satterfield, an emeritus professor of chemical engineering at MIT, said he is wary of some of the statements made by Magic Salt’s producers, particularly that it can prevent wet roads from freezing when the temperature dips as low as 35 degrees below zero."
1 Kaushal, S, et. al. Increased Salinization of Fresh Water in the Northeastern United States, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2005 102 (38) 13517-13520 http://www.pnas.org/content/102/38/13517.full