As DC heads into what’s typically the region’s snowiest and iciest time of year, home and business owners should consider carefully how they’ll keep our sidewalks free of ice.
The National Academy of Sciences says our rivers and streams are becoming saltier, particularly in the densely populated East and Midwest.
And when we say salt – we mean salt. Sodium chloride is commonly used to clear ice from streets and sidewalks. And yes, this is what we use as table salt.
The Colorado State Extension Service has other deicing suggestions:
- Potassium chloride is relatively safe for plants because of its other common use – as fertilizer. It is more expensive than sodium chloride.
- Magnesium chloride is the “brine” used to treat our roadways before storms. It’s relatively safe for plants and pets, but also expensive.
- Calcium magnesium does less damage to plants, pets and cars but is 20 to 30 times as expensive as sodium chloride.
Whatever you get, Casey Trees and the Colorado extension agents advise using deicers sparingly. Also, read labels carefully. Here is a bag that touts its environmental safety, but includes sodium chloride.
Total ice removal isn’t the only way to keep people from slipping and sliding across an icy sidewalk.
Common suggestions are kitty litter, sand and sawdust. I have tried kitty litter, and it becomes slippery when wet. Sand is heavy, and not great on floors.
So I decided to get creative. What’s light, provides traction and is biodegradable? I ordered cocoa shell mulch online. It works quite fine on the icy parts of the sidewalks, and it smells great. You probably could use any kind of mulch, and the dark color aids in melting.
Which alternatives to salt products have you found effective in providing traction on icy sidewalks?
This is a Forest Hills Connection rerun. The original published in January 2018.