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Safe Ice Melt: Fact or Fiction?

It’s that time of year and Martyn Church of Eco Snow Removal has graciously offered to be a guest blogger and provide insight into whether or not ice melt can be used safely around our children, pets and landscaping.

The snow season is upon us and we’re looking for a safe product to melt the ice on our North facing sidewalks and driveways.  We don’t want to harm our children and pets, nor kill our plants, and as we walk down the aisles of the store, we’re bombarded with tons of seemingly good choices.   The beautiful packaging on these ice melt products show children sledding and dogs prancing.  They’re labeled with phrases such as “Salt Free,”  “Pet Friendly,” and “Safe for the Environment.”  Can we trust them?

I cannot speak for every product out there, but what I can say is that at this moment in time, unlike the food industry, the ice melt industry has no FDA-like regulations regarding honesty in statements on packaging. Translation…We cannot trust the pictures and words on the labels!

A few examples that I have seen include one package that said:  “No Salt” on the front label, and yet just under the name of the product, it said “MAG CHLORIDE.”  Now I don’t know what their chemistry teacher told them, but according to the science books in our libraries, Mag Chloride is indeed, SALT.  A more accurate label might have been “No Table Salt.”  Some packages say “Pet Safe,” but then we look at the contents on the back (if we’re lucky enough to find them there) and read that they’re exactly the same as the regular brand.

There are products out there that are truly salt-free.  However, they tend to be much less efficient at melting snow and ice.  With these products, the very problem we were trying to avoid may still occur.  In an attempt to make them work better, we’ll end up using twice as much.  This over application can still be harmful to plant life, concrete and pets.

Some advice for everyone…First and foremost, if you don’t need to use ice melt, then don’t!  Let the wonderful sun do its magic!  If on the other hand, you do have some shady areas where only ice melt will do the trick, then buy the ice melt products that are at least labeled with details.  If the package does not clearly display the contents, then put it down and find one that does. Try to buy a blended product with a mixture of salts and corrosion inhibitors.  If it has something called CMA (calcium magnesium acetate), that is good.  See if it has at least 20% CMA.  You might pay a premium for these, but a little goes a long way and you’ll be better off in the long run.

One more thing…If you chose to use ice melt, apply it at the application rate found in the directions. This may not seem like a lot at the time of application, but will most likely be enough to do the job. A big mistake many people make is thinking that the more you put down, the faster it will work.   Don’t do it!!  Not only does this slow the melting process, it will most likely leave ice melt residue behind.  So just apply the recommended amount and let the product do its work.

Thank you for reading this post and I hope it has helped you in keeping your property and your loved ones safe for the winter season.

Let It Snow.

Eco Snow Removal Owner, Martyn Church, is one of only seven Certified Snow Professionals in Colorado. He is considered by SIMA, the National Snow and Ice Management Association, to be an expert in the industry. Martyn recognizes the importance of reliable, top-notch service, and is committed to maintaining the highest level of knowledge and training for himself and his team of “Snow Fighters.”

Eco Snow Removal is committed to providing snow and ice management services with minimal impact on the environment. Fueling their vehicles with recycled vegetable oil and bio-diesel, utilizing polyurethane plow blades and specialized ice melt products, are a few of the many ways in which the company works to maintain environmentally friendly practices.