Winter has arrived, and with it comes the cold weather, shorter days and longer nights. What also comes with it is the chore of shoveling your sidewalks, driveway, and making sure there is some kind of traction on those icy, slippery and often dangerous surfaces. So how do you stay ahead of the game in maintaining the surfaces that surround your property, as safely and effectively as possible? We “dug” around (no pun intended) and came up with some great tips for your surfaces. You actually might be a little shocked at what we found out about the number 1 item used to combat icy slippery surfaces, SALT! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves so we will start from the beginning!
Melt Ice & Create Slip Proof Surfaces
- Prepare, Prepare, Prepare- This means stay updated on the current and upcoming weather condition forecasts. Knowing what is in store can help you to prepare and stay ahead of the ice & snow game.
- Create Traction On Slippery Surfaces- The idea is to cover or dust surfaces with a substance that will provide traction. You can use materials such as gravel, birdseed, cat litter, wood chips, sand (which if near drainage systems can cause clogging issues.)
- Salt- There we have it folks, SALT! The number one material used to combat slippery surfaces caused by snow, ice, and moisture.
So what exactly is the lowdown on salt and why is it so bad? First of all salt is definitely a natural resource that can be used to melt snow and help create traction on slippery surfaces. The downfall to salt is found in the different kinds available and the common effects that all kinds can have. Salt is corrosive by nature. Meaning if it gets on the paint of your car, tracked into your home and onto your carpet, or on fabrics like that of clothing and furniture it can cause a good amount of damage with it’s corroding effects. It can also burn your pets paws should it stick to them or get caught in between. But the negative effects of salt don’t stop there. In fact, excessive salt can cause a build up in soil which then leaves a film on plants that will prevent nutrients and moisture from being absorbed into the plant. No moisture or nutrients will eventually lead to the plant dying. It gets worse though, salt can leach heavy metals which after penetrating into grass, soil, and the ground can contaminate water and negatively affect people, and animals health. Is there anything you can do or perhaps a certain kind of salt that is better to use than another? The answer is yes. While all salt is recommended to steer clear from when trying to maintain winter sidewalks and driveways, it is found that salt made up of NaCl (Sodium Chloride) can contain cyanide! Salt containing Potassium Chloride is also recommended to steer clear from because it’s runoff can cause algae growth. Then we have salt made up of CaCl (Calcium Chloride) this is probably the best option to use if your choose to salt your sidewalks or driveways. Although most of us have probably been using salt as our default traction enhancer and were not aware of the dangers of using salt, we strongly recommend one of the above listed alternatives such a birdseed or wood chips. Birdseed can be eaten by birds and wood chips are still natural enough not to hurt the environment.
The winter months may feel like they will last forever, but if you hang in there for a few more months we can put the salt and other substances away and enjoy the sidewalks of warm Spring right around the corner.