One of the greatest dangers you face in cold weather is walking from your front door to your car. Winter in Ontario means snow and ice, which means slipping, sliding and falling is a real possibility. You will want to use the best deicer you can to keep your walks and drives as free from ice and snow as possible. Here are the most common choices for dealing with snow and ice and the pros and cons of each.
Rock salt, sodium chloride, is the old standby for ice melting around the home. It is inexpensive and very effective down to temperatures of about -9 degrees Celsius. Rock salt is less popular than it used to be since it is highly corrosive to cars and other steel objects. Concentrated salt is also bad for natural aquatic systems and landscape plants. It’s a good choice for short term use, but there are several more options to consider.
Sand was traditionally used to provide traction on slippery surfaces. It works for that, but will not melt snow or ice. Treated sand is a combination of sand, salt and, sometimes, other chemicals that make it more effective. Treated sand gives you a combination of traction and deicing properties. It’s a good choice for extra slippery places or people that may need a little extra traction for safety. However, it’s pretty messy in the spring and has to be cleaned up.
Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are other types of salt that are sometimes used in deicing mixtures. They are less corrosive than rock salt, less harmful to roadways and more effective at lower temperatures. Because they are more expensive than rock salt, they are often blended with other ingredients. Chemical deicers are regularly used to treat rock salt, to activate the melting and lower effective temperatures.
Growing environmental awareness and new research has led to the development of less harmful, but very effective, deicers. They are generally safe to use around plants, animals and water systems and are also effective at very low temperatures. While salt is still a component in some of these mixtures, it is at much lower concentrations. Often, byproducts from agricultural processes such as beet refinement are used in these deicers. You may pay more for these ice melters, but if you factor in the cost of environmental damage, the long term expense is often less.
In addition to snow shovels and snow blowers, these are your best options for snow and ice removal.
We keep a variety of choices on hand. Rock salt is good for short term use, treated sand for slippery situations and calcium chloride mixtures for prolonged low temperatures. If you are worried about the environmental effects of deicers or are concerned about pets and your landscape plants, use one of the eco-friendly ice melters.