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Eco-Tip Tuesday: Breaking the Ice

Posted Jan 04 2010 11:35pm

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In many parts of the country this week, streets and walkways are covered in snow and ice, and everyone is using salt, sand and other chemical de-icers to make their streets safe for travel. But not all de-icers are alike, and some are downright harmful to your pets, your children and your local streams and rivers.  

Urea, potassium nitrate (KNO3), rock salt, table salt (NaCl) and baking soda are common de-icers that are cheap and do a good job of melting ice. But when the snow melts and rain falls in the spring, the salts and nitrates in them quickly run off the streets and sidewalks where they kill soil life, grass, trees and other plants they come in contact with. Eventually these pollutants run off into the nearest waterway where they kill frogs, fish and other aquatic life.

Common de-icing salts are also notorious for tearing up the paws of dogs and cats who walk on them, for sickening children who play in snow and ice that has been treated with them, and for causing metal corrosion on vehicles and roadway structures.

Instead of using salt this winter, head down to your local hardware store and pick up some “pet-safe” de-icer made from calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), potassium chloride (KCl), or calcium chloride (CaCl2) to melt the ice around your home or business. When these non-toxic de-icing products run off with the snowmelt, the minerals they contain can actually fertilize the plants they come into contact with.

Good brands include PetGuard, Safe Paws and Bare Ground. Some of these products can be applied right before a snowstorm to help prevent the build up of ice and snow. And they are non-toxic and non-corrosive, so they won’t harm people, pets or property.

With the right de-icer, safe winter travel means streets that are both clear of snow and ice and free of harmful chemicals too!

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