Six inches of snow is predicted and the children are wearing their pajamas inside out in hopes of a snow day. You glance out the front window to see the first white puffy flakes start to fall and wonder how icy the roads will be in the morning. With so much on your mind being a good environmental steward this snowy winter night may seem too much. However, with a bit of knowledge and some planning it will be as simple as making that first snowball.
The purpose of a deicer is to make snow and ice melt by lowering the freezing point of water. Five chemicals commonly used to make deicers are calcium chloride, sodium chloride or salt, potassium chloride, urea and calcium magnesium acetate. The chlorides are salt like products. The most commonly used roadway deicer is Sodium Chloride or salt. It’s inexpensive and readily available. Salt lowers the melting point of snow from 36°F to about 20°F.
This salt washes away into our streams and lakes and seeps into our groundwater and has negative affects on the environment. Increases in salinity in lakes form salty pockets and may create biological dead zones. Increased salty groundwater may make well water salty and detrimental to human health. Salt also may enter the soil and root system of landscaping causing loss of plantings.
With Michigan weather, the need for some kind of deicer will never elude our residents. The following tips are ways to help you be more environmental friendly when clearing your pathway
Look at using alternate deicing agents. Always read the labels for instructions and ingredients of deicers. Deicers made of calcium chloride are considered safer for plants and such as long as it is not placed down in massive amounts.
Clean, non-clumping kitty litter, saw dust, coffee grounds or sand may be used for traction.
Use the smallest amount of deicer possible to clear the icy snowy areas. The purpose of a deicer is to make it easier to shovel the ice or snow, not to melt it completely.
- Sweep up any excess and reuse or dispose of in a more environmentally friendly way.
- Deicers can be a toxic if ingested by your pets and an irritant to their paws. Take time to wipe your pet’s feet with warm water as soon as they enter your home from outside.