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Calling all chemists...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by bbarnhart, May 31, 2007.

  1. macrumors 6502a


    I had some driveway ice melt that was left over from the winter that I had poured from the spreader into an old metal popcorn tin. That tin sat in my garage for several months until I discovered it the other day. The snow melt had turned from beads to a clear thick liquid that isn't evaporating.

    Now, what can I do with this liquid? Can I pour it on the lawn? Pour it into the street? Pour it down the sink (I'm on a septic system). I don't want to kill anything, but I don't want it sitting around in a metal tin that's beginning to rust.

    I still have a bag of the stuff so I can look and see what it's made from.

  2. macrumors 65816


    Don't pour it on your lawn. Everything else is probably fine, more or less. But diluting it before you do anything would probably be a good idea.
  3. macrumors 68000


    Wait, I'm confused. What's in the tin, (what's spreader?) ( a bag of the stuff?)

    If I have an idea of what's that thick liquid, I can help you to dispose it.

    Does it have any smell? What's the color of it?

    I wouldn't go dilute it just yet until you know what it is. It's probably not gonna do anything bad, but if it's not water soluble or something it will be even harder to dispose.
  4. macrumors 65816


    It would be sodium the stuff would it not?

    Don't pour it down a house drain or on the road or down the storm water drain. Don't want to be responsible for any wildlife to suffer. Best bet is to take it to your local dump. They usually have a station where you can take old engine oil and car batteries. This is the place you want to take the stuff.
  5. macrumors 68000


    But if it's just some variance of salt that's used in melting the snow and stuff, the water should all evaporate, and left with those salt. I can't think of any salt that will bind water so tightly that can left you with some thick liquid. Is it the consistency of milk? cooking oil?

    If you are certain it's just salt and water, then you can take a bit and dilute with water (it's like a science experiment!) and if they mix well (and no smell), then you can dilute the rest of the thing and dump down the drain. Salt (and not just sodium chloride salt) is generally safe in that regard.

    My only worry is that there's more than just salt in that thick liquid of yours.
  6. macrumors 65816


    That is why I asked.

    It could be chlorine based. That is why the tin could be oxidising and a thick liquid has formed.

    Then again it could be the half bottle of gin I have drunk talking.
  7. macrumors 68000


    Isn't it rarely that an metal oxide is water soluable?
  8. macrumors 65816


    Still I would not put it in my septic tank or down the storm water.
  9. macrumors 68000

    Im no chemist, but I think what you have is Calcium Chloride. Is it little white pellets, or flakes? If so just a quick Serach brought up a Wikipedia artical, and it says it is Hygroscopic, which means it likes to pull moisture from the air, which would explain why it is a thick goo. Here is an excerpt:

    I bolded the last sentence for emphasis, sounds like what you got.

    P.S. I must be board at 3AM :)

    Heres a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_chloride
  10. macrumors 65816


    I hated chemistry in college... thus I got a minor in it, and I'm doing quite a bit of it in grad school.

    First off- let me get this straight- you put ice melt in a tin container, left it in the garage for the winter, and now you have a nice thick liquid... is that right?

    That stuff usually has several components- depeding on the brand. It has Calcium Chloride, Magnesium, Potassium Chloride and Sodium Chloride. The Sodium and Potassium will not do much. They are salts, and are diluted fairly easily. The Magnesium is a fairly docile metal. What you have in this combination is that condensation has somehow gotten in your tin, and has dissolved your beads. The CaCl does not play nicely with the KCl or NaCl, especially in high conc., viscous solutions, and precipitated, forming white crud.

    Simply take the tin outside, dump it in a plastic bag, and take it to the trash. You might want to rinse off that tin later, but flush it in the toilet, not down the sink.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    I looked on the bag this morning and it said it was Calcium Chloride. It also said it would not hurt my lawn. It was a bunch of white pellets and it must have absorbed the moisture out of the air and became a liquid like todd2000 said.

    After looking on the Internets this morning, it is safe to pour down the sink, however, I'm on a septic system. I've decided that I'm going to pour the stuff into a large container, dilute with water, pour that on the lawn, and then spray it down with some more water.

    Thanks for everyone's help
  12. macrumors 6502a


    take a picture of it

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