Safe Alternative to Salt for Melting Ice

The old fashioned method of getting rid of that ice on your steps, sidewalks and drives has always been some sort of salt compound. It is still effective, but it has always had it’s drawbacks.

1. Salt will break up and eventually destroy concrete drives and sidewalks.

2. Salt will accumulate in the soil, leach into, and kill grass and plants, and eventually get into the ground water.

3. Salt will attach itself to your pet’s paws, and, when they lick their paws to clean them, it will get into your pet, which can be harmful.

The University of Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Health Department has listed seven chemicals or products that will melt ice. The list includes sodium chloride (rock salt), calcium magnesium, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium acetate, Ice Ban, and sand.

All of these, however, with the exception of sand, which doesn’t exactly melt the ice, contain salt. Ice Ban is a relatively new formula which combines calcium chloride and the soluble leftovers from distilleries of beer or alcohol. It is either sprayed on the roads and drives in liquid form, or, is sprayed over rock salt to make it less harmful. This solution will decrease the melting temperature of regular rock salt to -50 degrees, and, presumably, after being sprayed, roadbeds resist icing for three days.

Because many individuals and communities are becoming aware of the dangers of using salt for de-icing, several new products have arrived on the market.

The obvious solution to staying safe on your sidewalk is not only to melt the ice, but to provide traction. With this in mind, several companies are promoting a traction sand, that will not melt the ice, but will make it safer for walking, and, contains no harmful chemicals or salt. Get-a-Grip Super Traction, and Get-a-Grip Traction Sand, are two products on the market that are advertised as being eco friendly, safe for concrete, pets, lawns, and kids, and, economical. It will not melt the ice, but will provide a traction surface to walk on.

Safe Paw is an actual ice melter that does not contain salt or other harmful chemicals. It is advertised to work at temperatures as low as -2 degrees, but produces no heat. Made of a crystalline amide core with special glycols, it breaks up the ice, without leaving anything that will harm pet, kids, or the environment.

While using products that contain no salt are definitely the best way to go for the environment, it can get expensive. New products will range in price anywhere from two to three times more than rock salt.