With below-average temperatures and above-average snowfall, deicing has been a hot topic in Hampton Roads this winter. And we’re not out of the woods yet, as today’s weather reveals. askHRgreen.org reminds residents that fertilizer should never be used as deicer. There are plenty of effective ways to battle the effects of Old Man Winter without harming the environment.
“Fertilizer is a major pollutant to our local waterways and should never be left on hard surfaces like sidewalks or driveways,” said Elizabeth Vaughn, public works information specialist for the city of Chesapeake and an askHRgreen.org team member. “Snow melt, like rainwater, collects dirt, chemicals and other pollutants on its journey across land, through our storm drains and ultimately into local waterways.”
The askHRgreen.org experts, with help from the Chesapeake Bay Program, have put together this easy-to-use guide, to help residents and local businesses make the best decisions when it comes to deicing.
Chemical Deicer: Which is the Safest?
• Hazardous but Commonly Used: Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the most commonly used deicer. It can damage hard surfaces and contains cyanide which is harmful to your car, lawn, plants and pets.
• Better for the Environment: Calcium chloride is better than rock salt because it does not contain harmful cyanide—although it is still harmful to hard surfaces, lawn and plants.
• Best for the Environment: Magnesium chloride is considered the least toxic deicing salt because it has no cyanide and less chloride, making it safer for surfaces, cars and the environment. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is considered the least toxic chemical deicer because it contains no chlorides or cyanide.
Now that you know how to pick a deicing chemical, here are some tips on how to safely apply it:
• Apply the recommended amount of deicer before snow falls to prevent ice from forming.
• If snow and ice are already accumulated, remove the top layers with a shovel. Deicer works best on thin sheets of ice.
• Use a single path to get safely in and out of your home and treat only the path you’ll use.
• Applying more does not mean faster melting—just more water pollution!
• Keep chemical deicers away from your lawn, plants and any area used by your pet.
To avoid chemical deicers altogether, try these all-natural deicing tips:
• Pour a solution of warm water and table salt on small areas of thin ice.
• Use sand to improve traction on slippery areas.
• Before the storm, you can cover small areas such as your steps with heavy, waterproof plastic like a tarp. After the storm, remove the tarp and enjoy your dry steps and walkways.
• Replace chemical deicers with alfalfa meal or sugar beet juice, two natural products that will remove ice with little to no impact on property, plants, pets or waterways.