No one wants to take a fall on ice, so how can you make icy surfaces less slippery? A product like ice melt, which employ salt blends that lower the freezing point of precipitation when it hits the ground, melting existing snow and ice to reduce the amount that will accumulate after it’s applied. However, they have less-than-desirable side effects.
Experts say that any salt used to de-ice surfaces will seep into porous pavements, causing concrete to rust, crack and deteriorate. Salt-based deicers can also cause problems for your lawn and garden and will often find their way into lakes, streams and groundwater. There is also an impact on pets, who can experience dried-out or cracked skin if they get salt on their paws.
So, how can you keep your sidewalks and walkways safe without doing harm? The best deicer, bar none, is a shovel! Get outside and shovel before you walk or drive on the surface. Shoveling is also the best way to reduce the amount of product needed on icy surfaces. The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less product you will have to use and the more effective it will be.
Choose a good shovel that will help prevent a sore back. Snowplow first at an angle, use a heavy plastic shovel (not metal) on finished concrete patios to avoid scratches) & shovel frequently during a storm rather than tackling all 12” of accumulation at once.
If the temperature is below 15 degrees (too cold for salt) use sand, kitty litter or sawdust to provide traction on ice. (They are also good products to carry in your vehicle all winter in case you get stuck.)
Next, if you want to use ice melt, choose a product that carries the EPA Safer Choice label as the ingredients are safer for humans and the environment, without sacrificing quality. Try Premier products by CP Industries; Safe Step products by Compass Minerals; K-9 Pet-Friendly Ice Melt by EC Grow or Advanced Melt or Nature’s Choice by EcoChem.
Another unusual but potentially effective option (from what I’ve read) is to apply beet juice deicer. It lowers the melting point of ice and snow and is considered safer for animals, plants and concrete. It’s also one of the only products that will work in extremely cold temperatures, anything from about -5 degrees F or colder.
A final tip: When using salt, less is more. Use less than four pounds of salt per 1,000 sq ft. (one pound of salt fits in a 12 ounce coffee mug.) Once ice has melted, any visible salt or sand should be swept up to prevent it from washing away & causing damage to local bodies of water.
20+ years of residential experience.