Snow and ice are the most dangerous parts of winter weather, making it difficult to drive safely or even walk on most surfaces. It’s tempting to apply just any deicer to our surfaces to make them safer for walking and driving. Some deicers can actually do a lot of damage to driveways and other hardscaping, however. There are many chemical deicers for driveways on the market, but some are safer than others.
Sodium Chloride is the chemical name for rock salt, the most commonly used and well-known deicer. It works well as an ice melter, but it could pit asphalt surfaces. It is also unsafe for dogs, and the salty water runoff that results from using it can damage lawns and other landscaping.
Calcium Chloride is a more effective deicer, but it is also hazardous to grass and plants. In large quantities, it can cause the yellowing of plants and grass. It can also cause the pitting of asphalt, just like sodium chloride. It is more expensive than sodium chloride, but you will need less since it works more effectively.
Potassium Chloride and Urea
Deicers that have potassium chloride and urea are the safest for your landscaping since these ingredients are often found in fertilizer blends. However, it is important to remember that runoff from these deicers will carry chemicals into your soil that could potentially add too much potassium to your soil.
Calcium Magnesium Acetate
Calcium Magnesium Acetate is a preemptive tool. It doesn’t make ice melt, so spreading it over ice that has already formed is useless. Instead, it keeps the ice molecules from sticking together. It is most useful for large areas, such as parking lots, and while it doesn’t taste great to animals, it won’t hurt them.
Chemical deicers work quickly and are good at thawing ice, but they also have their drawbacks. In addition to the damage they could potentially cause your hardscaping, they can also be dangerous for kids and pets. Make sure that you thoroughly wash kids’ hands and pets’ paws to remove the chemical deicers after they come in from the outside. Non-chemical alternatives such as kitty litter and sand are an okay substitute. They are safer in the long run for pets and kids, but they only provide traction on the ice and don’t melt it.
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