Why It’s Worth The Extra Effort to Avoid Using DeIcers
Improper or over use of deicers is harmful to gardens, animals, and the environment. Most deicers are chemicals which contain high levels of salt. Excess salts build up in the soil, just as with the overuse of chemical fertilizers. They inhibit the uptake of moisture and nutrients, and eventually make their way to water supplies.
Purchase a salt-free deicer such as Safe Paw™ or Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA), which are much less harmful to pets, plants, concrete, and humans. And for dog-lovers such as myself, consider dog booties… or at the very least, wiping your dog’s paws after your wintertime walks. Salt from public walkways is harmful yet a quick wipe with a wet cloth will do much to mitigate the damage, and prevent them from licking those chemical salts off their paws.
Also, please consider the weather conditions before applying a deicer. For dry, powdery snow, sweep and shovel the snow instead of deicing. There’s simply no need to use it. For heavy, wet snow, apply a small amount of deicer sprinkled in key areas of the sidewalk as soon as the snowfall begins to prevent it from bonding to the pavement. For freezing rain, use the same method: use a small but well applied portion of deicer as soon as possible.
While it might be required to use melting agents at times, let’s not risk harming our pets, garden soil or water supply by using any more than we have to. Finding more eco-friendly alternatives is the way to go!
First of All, Some Tips To Help Remember Your Own Safety
Wear proper footwear designed for traction when dealing with ice. Purchase winter boots with solid toe and bottom treads to help increase your grip on icy surfaces. Or perhaps purchase ice-grips that temporarily attach to the bottom of your shoes to provide traction when needed.
Your shovel makes a big difference. Get the right one for your height. Try one out in the hardware store. Hold the shovel like you’re moving snow. Is it too short, too long, too narrow? You want to find one that feels comfortable. And remember, when shovelling snow, lift with your legs not with your back. If the snow is wet and heavy ‘chip away’ from the top rather than starting at the bottom and lifting all that weight. Let’s all survive, healthy and happy, through another snowy winter!
Here Are Some Eco Friendly Options For Keeping Paved Areas Ice-Free
Shovel as soon as possible, even during a snowstorm. This will give the snow less time to set, and you’ll have it out of the way before it melts and freezes, becoming ice. And remember, shovelling doesn’t have to be a solo job. Enlist the help of family members or neighbours, and there’s always an eager kid in the neighbourhood who wants to earn some extra dollars. You don’t have to do it alone.
Before a predicted snowstorm arrives, cover foot traffic areas like sidewalks and door entries with a tarp held down with bricks. Later, shovel the snow off and remove the tarp before it has a chance to freeze.
You can make areas less slippery by sprinkling with a bit of sand, fine gravel, wood chips, or even birdseed*. It won’t melt the ice, but it will add much needed traction for safety. Just be careful using near drains, as an excess of material can clog and cause spring flooding. We also need to avoid tracking sand into the house as it can damage flooring, so use an entry tray or mat for parking boots and shoes.
*NOTE: while birdseed is a great option for traction and winter-feeding for wildlife, don’t use near your house entries or flower gardens – both to avoid mice coming close (and into!) the house, and to prevent seeds becoming weeds in your garden next spring. Yes, many bird feeder seeds are tough enough to sprout and grow even after being frozen solid and walked on!
If you’re thinking of using wood ash or kitty litter, please reconsider. They don’t provide much in the way of traction or help remove ice, and they will leave a real mess once warmer weather arrives.
Some people broadcast fertilizer like 10-10-10 onto ice, thinking they’re feeding their lawn and gardens while offering a more benign solution. Not! It has lots of salt plus nitrogen and phosphorus. The run-off from rain and snow containing these materials is harming the streams and lakes of our planet.
A Final Word
Let’s do something! While I am sharing ‘green’ options, if all these steps are unavailable to you and a snowfall occurs, you do have a shovel of course, and if ice has formed, use some salt! As someone who has fallen more than I care to remember, I will never permit ice to remain on my walkways. Sure, I’m spry enough, with strong enough bones (and padding, let’s be honest) so there’s been no harm done except to my pride. But every time I slip I think of a senior or anyone who may not be as tough as me. Please. Let’s do what we can to keep our walks ice-free.