A Sure Footed Solution to Your Ice Melt Dilemma:
With so many products out there, choosing the right ice melt can be a slippery slope in and of itself. If you are concerned about the environment, pets or personal property the safest thing to do is to avoid chemicals altogether. Otherwise, when used properly, a blended ice melt product can be a safe and effective solution to any icy situation.
The majority of ice melt products are made up of one or more chlorides. These chlorides, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, are highly water soluble, and for the most part, harmless in small doses. The problem is over application. Even the so called “safe” melters are not safe if used in excess. Remember what happened when you accidentally dumped too much fertilizer on that one spot in your lawn? The same is true for ice melt. The trick is to use no more product than can be dissolved entirely in the melting ice. If you see residue on your sidewalk after the ice is gone, you used too much.
The chemical effect of ice melt on cured concrete is very slow. The real damage comes from multiple freeze thaw cycles caused by ineffective blends of ice melt. Using a proper blend of chlorides will effectively melt ice while reducing the number of freeze thaw cycles dramatically.
The most common, and often sole ingredient in ice melt labeled “Pet Safe” is Urea. Although urea won’t harm your pet’s paws, it also won’t melt your ice. An over application of urea, which is inevitable as you struggle to melt ice with it, can have damaging effects on vegetation and water supplies. If you want a “Pet Safe” product, a bag of sand or gravel is the best choice. It will work as well as urea, but for a lot less.
If you want to melt ice, but are concerned about safety and the environment, choose a product blended with calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium chlorides. Follow the package directions and don’t apply additional product unless your first application has completely dissolved and you still have ice. As far as Fido goes, he’ll be just fine as long as you remove the slush and undissolved product before you let him out to play.
Most ice melt, with the exception of 100% calcium or magnesium chlorides, will not harm pets, vegetation or cured concrete when used properly.
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