Will calcium chloride do any damage to fiberglass?

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Will calcium chloride do any damage to fiberglass?

Postby BaderBob » Sun Jan 24, 2016 7:09 pm

I just got a Chrysler 18' sailboat yesterday and there is a huge amount of ice in it. I am unfamiliar with this boat design and don't know if there is a drain to get it out, but first, I need to melt it. I am in Massachusetts and it is unlikely that the temperatures will allow me to let Mother Nature do the trick, so I am thinking I can melt it using calcium chloride and then, pump it out. Will this hurt the fiberglass? I am not sure if any damage has yet been done to the integrity of the glass, but would like to know ASAP. Can I use CC or any other chemical to safely melt it?

Thanks..... BaderBob

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Postby CaptainScott » Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:19 am

Welcome to the forum!

A quick google search offered nothing to your question. I'd simply contact a manufacturer and ask what a safe dilution would be for a fiberglass boat.

I did find one site indicating fiberglass tanks for storage of that stuff.

I'd not likely risk it though without some info first!

Good luck!


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Postby Kenr74 » Mon Jan 25, 2016 8:01 am

I'm not a chemist, but fiberglass boats seem to do well in salt water. Why not just try some rock salt?

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Postby BaderBob » Mon Jan 25, 2016 8:10 am

Kenr74 and CaptainScott,

Thank you both for your replies. I have calcium chloride available, but now having seen your replies, I will get some rock salt and give it a try.

Thanks... the forecast is for mild weather tomorrow, so i will try it then so i can minimize the usage...


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Postby Reality » Mon Jan 25, 2016 9:48 am

I'd be concerned that you get the inside the hull ice melted into water, some seeps into hairline cracks in joints or the fiberglass, then when it refreezes it makes problems. Unless you have a heated storage building to get it into, I'd wait.

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Thanks for the insight

Postby BaderBob » Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:58 pm

Thanks Reality.... you bring up an interesting point. I think my approach will be to load up the ice with salt tomorrow when the temp is supposed to reach the low 40's here and keep the concentration high enough that any resulting water will remain a liquid. I really feel the need to remove this source of weight from the boat and be able to look at the inside.

Please keep your fingers crossed....

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Postby Paul T » Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:30 pm

How did you make out? Temps in MA to be near 50 ths coming Sunday, make sure boat is in the sun.
Where is boat? You could also try hooking up hose to hot water tap and run some HW, or perhaps hot water feed into pressure washer, providing HW is close by. Can you get help to tip hull so it drains as it melts?

Reality has good solution in waiting out until warm. Chemical attacks always have issues. The marine version of Strip-Eze had a neutralizer to use after stripping bottom paint (Strip-Eze mostly NaOH). The calc Chloride may attack aluminum (I don't know the Buccaneer or where water is trapped).

MA (I live here too) having warmer winter, only danger is if we get cold like last winter towards the end. If the ice had a free surface to expand, probably little/no damage. But if constrained, it may bow out features as ice expanded. For ex., we would always drill 1 or 2 drain holes on bottom of hollow rudders w/post so they would drain, then patch up in spring before launch. The bond around the rudder post would always leak. Once failed to do this and rudder bowed out a bit during freeze, requiring a bit of fairing.

Good luck

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Thanks Paul T

Postby BaderBob » Fri Jan 29, 2016 1:52 pm

Things went pretty well.... most of the ice is melted, but i do have a lot of salt residue to clean up. I am hoping to take care of this over the weekend when temps are going above normal. I was able to get the bilge pump out, so i will add some more water to the cockpit and pump it out to remove the residue as it doesn't appear that there is a drain hole I can use

I am in central Mass and hoping i can take the opportunity to get under the boat and see if the centerboard area looks ok. I just got this boat and know little about it, so i welcome the nice weather so I can make an assessment.

Thanks for your help... happy sailing.

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