Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Melting Away the Icy Blues
Magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, sodium chloride, and potassium chloride are common ingredients in de-icing products. Calcium and sodium chloride can damage concrete surfaces, as well as stone and brick and are particularly harsh on plants. Magnesium and potassium chloride are moderately damaging to plants. There are also products labeled as “pet-friendly” or “environmentally-friendly” that commonly use calcium magnesium acetate as an active ingredient. These products typically cause little damage to concrete and plants and are often the best approach for effective melting without damaging landscapes. The bottom line is that using excessive amounts of any of these products can lead to problems in the landscape and on surfaces. You should always carefully follow the label of the de-icing product you’re using.
Occasionally people will use leftover fertilizer granules to melt ice. While fertilizers do contain salt compounds, they are also full of other materials that will reduce the overall melting ability, so they don’t work as well as other de-icers. Fertilizers applied to icy sidewalks, roadways and steps will be carried directly into drains, and eventually our creeks and rivers. These excess nutrients in water supplies are a health threat and greatly damage natural habitats. The bottom line... fertilizers should NEVER be used as de-icers!
It’s important to understand that ice melt products cannot replace the chore of shoveling. Ice melt products work best if they are applied BEFORE snow and ice coat surfaces. You can also utilize sand to help you gain traction on slick surfaces. Always apply de-icing materials safely and wisely and remember... it’s only 67 more days until the official beginning of spring!