Next week, homeowners will likely need to de-ice steps, walkways and sidewalks once again this season. While it’s critical for safety, salting contributes to pollution of rivers, can harm wildlife and pets, and increases human salt consumption via drinking water supplies. When de-icing your home, salt can also damage plants and lawns.
Here are the steps we take for minimizing damage caused by de-icing. We recommend following these guidelines to minimize your salt use and potential for pollution:
1. Use Mechanical Removal
Our crews use a combination of plows, snow throwers and shovels to remove snow down to bare pavement, and use ice melt only to prevent slippery conditions between visits. Ice melt is no substitute for elbow grease! 🙂
2. Avoid Cheap Rock Salt
Most road crews and even some contractors use cheap rock salt (NaCl). Instead, use ice melt that is a blend of less-harmful materials to perform better in low temps, minimizing how much needs to be applied. (The ice melt we use is safer for people, plants, and pets than rock salt.)
3. Use a Coated and Colored Ice Melt
Coating protects plants and pets’ paws, and color makes it visible so dog walkers can avoid it. Colorant also helps users see how much is being applied to prevent excess application.
4. Pretreat based on expected weather conditions
Use of pretreatment can reduce total applications by 40-60%.
5. Use Physical Barriers
Burlap or snow fencing can protect evergreen foliage along driveways, roads, or other surfaces to be treated.
Of course we need to de-ice in New England. But the less salt and ice melt we use, the cleaner our drinking water, safer our pets and plants, and healthier our environment.