Choosing the Right Ice Melter
Every week can bring a new season to Colorado, and that means the snow and ice are on inevitably the way again, most likely sooner rather than later.
For those with ice-prone north-facing driveways and stubborn slippery spots around the home, ice melt granules can prove to be a necessary investment for providing clear paths with adequate traction.
But with so many choices, which ice melter should a home-maintainer choose?
The first thing to consider, according to the Green Vests in the Garden department, is the effectiveness of ice melt versus the safety of its components. If a homeowner has pets, they may want to consider a natural, salt-free formula, something that is gentle on the pads on the bottom of pets’ feet and will not harm them if they lick themselves clean and ingest a little residue once they are inside the house.
Similarly, if children who like to play in the snow are in the equation, it may give parents peace of mind to know that the substance lying around their sidewalks and driveway is safe to be around. And if tracked inside from winter boots, natural ice melters are also gentle on rugs and carpets.
Safe Step Enviro Ice Melt tackles ice under -10, helps prevent re-freezing, and protects concrete from damage by extending the free/thaw cycles when used as directed.
Another benefit to more natural ice melters: they are more gentle on plants. With active ingredients such as magnesium chloride and potassium sulfate, these melters are more gentle on foliage when a season’s-worth of granules accumulate on the edges of the lawn or neighboring bedding plants with regular snow shovelings.
What about the roof?
Prevent dangerous ice dams (accumulations of ice at the lower edge of a sloped roof or gutter) by tossing a few ice melt tablets on your roof. They’re hockey puck-sized and easy to throw up there. However, they’re a quick fix and not as environmentally friendly.
A common misconception is that the chemical composition of many ice melters can damage concrete. While this may hold true for cement less than 2 years old, damage is actually caused by the physical nature of ice settling into little cracks after it melts and then refreezing. The expansion of the refrozen water forces the concrete apart, creating pockmarks. So, as the Green Vests will tell you, it’s best to apply the ice melter, let it diminish the ice back into water or slush, and then shovel or squeegee as much of the excess moisture away as possible before reapplying another thin coat.
If ice is thick, it may be beneficial to use an ice scraper, a flat-headed tool for breaking up the heavies, before you finish it off with a nice sprinkling the granules to prevent refreezing.