Replacing Salt As A De-icer
Deicers and ice melts are common products found for sale in any province or state where snowfalls and ice forms. Rock salt is one of the most common deicers available. Its ready availability and affordability combine with effectiveness at the right temperatures to make it a popular product. Public road crews, commercial snow plow operators it to ensure the roads and sidewalks are safe. Residents apply it to make sure their sidewalks are walkable, and so they have traction on their driveways.
However, research in such as that being done in the University of Minnesota in St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN, shows that rock salt, and almost all salt-based ice melts and deicers are not safe for animal and plant life as well as concrete, asphalt, and brick. Cars also suffer from coming into contact with salt on the roads. Some people reduce their usage in hopes of preventing damage of any type. Others switch to products that are less harmful to the environment than other commercial products are or are described as “environmentally-friendly,” “pet-friendly.” For some, this is not enough. They have eschewed commercial products containing salt altogether.
Giving Up Salt for the Environment
If salt is off the table – excuse the pun, what are the alternatives? Below is a list of some common products readily available to act as de-icers, if not ice melts. They provide all the traction you need to get your car out of the driveway. They also reduce the instances of slips and falls that the presence of ice produces.
- Sand: Sand is easy to get. It is plentiful. It also acts as an ice melt by absorbing the sun’s rays. However, its strong suit is traction. Sand is excellent in providing this for both humans and vehicles. Its capabilities to perform its duties is attested to by the amount employed each year by public works departments across North America. In cities as far apart as Toronto, ON and Minneapolis, MN, sidewalk snow plow operators, and highway sanders combine salt and sand on sidewalks and roads. This does not mean sand does not have a downside. It does not evaporate but requires clean-up when no longer necessary.
- Kitty Litter: This readily available product does not melt the ice on sidewalks and driveways. Like sand, however, it does provide traction, therefore preventing slipping and falling on icy surfaces.
- Vinegar: Vinegar is a very handy item to have on hand. It is edible and good for a variety of household tasks, including unplugging drains (when combined with baking soda), washing windows, and cleaning surfaces of all types. Vinegar is also an effective pre-ice melt. Arguments wage on its effectiveness as an ice melt. Some say it is, but only after several applications; others find it to be more effective as a pre-ice treatment for windshields.
- Sugar Beet Juice: Like sand, beet juice is being mixed with rock salt by public work departments across North America. A product that is completely safe for all forms of life as well as for such inanimate items as concrete, brick, and asphalt, it helps to remove both ice and snow by reducing their melting points. Sugar beet juice is applied in a spray.
- Coffee Grinds: This is something to call on a pinch and only if you are a non-instant coffee drinker. It helps ice and snow melt quicker by absorbing sunlight. Its gritty nature also increases traction preventing slipping.
Ditching the Salt
Keeping sidewalks pedestrian-friendly and driveways free from ice is possible without resorting to deicers and ice melts. Natural methods and products are readily available at an affordable price. They do often demand, however, more thought and work. If you do not clear your own sidewalks and driveway but have a company you found through a third-party service such as Edenapp, contact them to see what they are doing for the environment, including reducing salt from your driveway’s diet.
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