Ice melting products can be made of calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, or a combination of these chemicals. There is also the more traditional ice melt, called rock salt, which is sodium chloride (the same as table salt). Sodium chloride lowers the freezing point of water to 5°F, whereas normally water freezes at temperatures below 32°F. The other chemicals (calcium, potassium and magnesium chloride) can melt ice in temperatures as low as -25°F.
Ice melt products can be inadvertently brought into the home from the bottom of shoes where a toddler will not only find it, but will put it right into their mouths. Ice melt pellets or crystals are also found outside while they are playing. Tasting a small amount of ice melt usually does not cause any symptoms. Sometimes, exposures can cause irritation of the mouth and stomach which can lead to vomiting. A rash can develop if the exposed skin is not washed promptly and thoroughly.
If you find your child eating ice melt, do not panic. Take the ice melt away from them, wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. Be sure to wash their hands and any exposed skin right away.
IMPORTANT: If you do not know how much or suspect your child has eaten large amounts of ice melt this could be a problem. If symptoms start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.
Special note: Don’t forget the pets! They can experience dryness and irritation of their paws after walking through areas that have been treated with ice melt. Licking the area can worsen the irritation. Be sure to wash off their paws when they return home to prevent chemical burns.