Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Damage Development in Cementitious Materials Exposed to MgCl2 Deicing Salt



Yaghoob Farnam, Andrew Wiese, Dale P. Bentz, Jeffrey M. Davis, Jason Weiss


MgCl2 is used in deicing applications due to its capability to depress freezing temperatures to a lower point than other salts like NaCl. The constituents of concrete (i.e., pores solution, calcium hydroxide, aluminate phases, and calcium silicate hydrate gel) can alter the MgCl2-H2O phase diagram. Different chemical reactions may concurrently occur between MgCl2 and cementitious constituents to form brucite, Friedel's salts, magnesium silicate hydrate, magnesium oxychloride, and/or secondary calcium oxychloride. In this study, it was observed that MgCl2 can be entirely consumed in concrete by the chemical reactions and produce CaCl2. As such, it was found that MgCl2 can interact with a cementitious material and it follows a response that is more similar to the Ca(OH)2-CaCl2-H2O phase diagram than that of the MgCl2-H2O phase diagram. Mortar samples exposed to low concentration MgCl2 solutions (<10 % by mass) for a short duration of freezing and thawing showed damage due to ice formation, while for higher concentrations (≥10 % by mass), the damage was most likely due to the chemical reactions between MgCl2 and cementitious constituents at room temperature (23 °C). The chemical reactions occurred rapidly (within 5-10 min) and caused a significant decrease in subsequent fluid ingress into exposed concrete.
Construction and Building Materials


Brucite, calcium oxychloride, concrete, deicing salt, freeze-thaw damage, magnesium oxychloride, magnesium silicate hydrate, phase change.


Farnam, Y. , Wiese, A. , Bentz, D. , Davis, J. and Weiss, J. (2015), Damage Development in Cementitious Materials Exposed to MgCl2 Deicing Salt, Construction and Building Materials, [online],, (Accessed July 22, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created June 14, 2015, Updated October 12, 2021