12 02 2008

Golden Icicle
Golden Icicle by paul+photos=moody

Fortunately we’re starting to wind down the icy season but I’ve still been thinking a lot about how best to deal with ice removal.

The most common way to do this is with salt, aka sodium chloride. It does an effective job and is readily available. However, it has many downsides:

  • It dries out the soil and interferes with plants ability to take up water, thereby, making the area only desirable to invasive weeds.
  • Ingestion by children is also a risk. Although I’d like to think my 3 yr old son wouldn’t eat any, I’ve seen him take a big mouthful of snow right by the street. We then had a good talk about yellow snow but I think the concept of salt may be too complex at this age.
  • Another huge downside is salts effects on animals. If a dog gets salt stuck between the pads of their paws it can actually burn. I remember my German Shepard limping and even laying down when the irritation would become too much.
  • For those of us who live near water, such as the Mississippi, the salt is washed to the sewers in the spring which in essence poisons the river as it is not filtered before dumping into the waterway.
  • Salt can also damage your walkways by aiding to the cycle of freeze and thaw.

I won’t even get my thoughts on road salt but we should think twice before adding our own imprint to these issues.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own solution to this problem and thought I would share my findings with you. The first thing I suggest is trying to keep your walkways clear of snow. This allows what moisture is there to dry during the warmer hours of the day. I know it’s tempting this time of year to let the snow sit as it will melt soon but you risk pooling melt water that freezes by morning. I need to work on this more as I can be quite lazy at times. If keeping the walkway clear doesn’t do the trick, here are a couple more options:

  • Course sand – it doesn’t melt the ice but it does provide traction and has a minimal impact on the surrounding area.
  • Use a salt free agent, such as calcium magnesium acetate or Safe Paw, and chip away with an ice breaker (looks like a flattened hoe/also used as a lawn edger). Don’t go overboard, simply use the compound to loosen the ice and make your work easier. Too much of a good thing…

Now I just need to get that leak in my gutter over the front porch steps fixed!





One response

13 02 2008
painted fish studio

great tips! as someone that walks 2 dogs daily, icy sidewalks make me angry and scared for my limbs! i always try to keep mine cleared, and in this weather that also keeps them ice-free. i sometimes think it’s those of us that navigate the icy walkways that really appreciate ice-free areas and we are the ones that immediately clear them when it snows. i always feel so bad for my postman, trying to maneuver on my neighbor’s ice… and while i do appreciate some neighbor’s efforts to melt the ice by throwing a ton of salt on the sidewalk, it does really bother hannah’s paws. gus plows right through, but he’s a tough guy… but probably the best solution is to just move from this frigid, grey state!!!

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