Long-term effects of magnesium chloride and other concentrated salt solutions on pavement and structural portland cement concrete phase I results

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Many state highway agencies use various chemicals to deice or anti-ice pavement and bridge surfaces. Most often these are aqueous solutions of various chlorides (e.g., magnesium chloride, sodium chloride, and calcium chloride) or other chemicals such as calcium magnesium acetate, urea, or others. Possible detrimental effects to concrete caused by these chemicals have not been fully examined and documented. Mortar specimens of three different water-to-cement ratios (0.4, 0.5, and 0.6) were immersed in concentrated solutions of various chemical deicers and held above freezing at a constant temperature of 40°F up to 84 days. Considerable expansion and cracking were noted in specimens immersed in the MgCl2 and CaCl2 solutions. Petrographic analysis and quantitative microanalysis were used to positively identify the presence of Mg(OH)2 (brucite) formation in the outer layers of the specimens. Furthermore, the results presented clear evidence of calcium oxychloride formation in the specimens analyzed. Further research is being conducted, including the same immersion test at 40°F on portland cement concrete specimens, to identify whether this distress mechanism is of concern for structures such as roads and bridges when subjected to deicing chemicals containing CaCl2 or MgCl2.

Publication Title

Transportation Research Record