After last year’s “Snowmageddon” in Hampton Roads, I’m hoping for a mild winter. All the shoveling and slipping on ice and contributing to the pollution in the local waterways by pouring tons of salt and deicing agents all over the driveway and sidewalk…
Wait, did you know about that last part?
Yes, all that salt and sand you throw on the ground can contribute to stormwater pollution. Just like fertilizer in the grass, deicers on driveways and sidewalks can get washed away to our waterways.
The most common deicing salt is sodium chloride. Unfortunately, sodium chloride can corrode metal (your car’s underbody), harm animals, kill vegetation in the area and can wash away into the nearest body of water, contributing to the pollution that’s killing off plant and animal life.
A less harmful option for melting ice is calcium magnesium acetate, which is more expensive but is safe for vegetation and is biodegradable.
You can also try alfalfa meal, found at your local nursery. While it won’t melt quite as much as sodium chloride, it will melt some of the ice and will double as traction control, similar to what you’d get with sand.
And the latest trend in deicing: beet juice. Yes, you read that right! Beet juice mixed with a small amount of salt will not only melt ice, it will melt at a lower temperature and will stay on the surface for a longer period of time than just salt alone. One thing you’ll notice – it’s going to turn the snow a brownish red color.
The best au naturel solution for getting rid of snow and ice? Good old fashioned hard work with a shovel. And be sure to shovel the snow onto a grassy surface so that when it melts, the grass will act as a natural filter for all the pollutants it picked up.
But let’s just hope we don’t have to use any of these techniques this winter!
Written By Elizabeth Vaughn, Public Works Information Specialist, City of Chesapeake, Public Works