In areas that see a lot of storms during the winter, figuring out how best to manage the problems that come along with them can be difficult. Perhaps the biggest issue that winter can pose is the danger of ice building up on walkways and roadways. Slippery paths can pose a major safety hazard on both residential and commercial properties, as any slip or fall can result in not only an injury but potentially a costly court or insurance case. But as the people of the world have become more interested in the negative impacts certain products have on our environment, the use of rock salt as the primary means for melting ice has become a questionable choice. So why is rock salt bad, and is there an environmentally friendly ice melt alternative?
Rock Salt’s Bad Side
Rock salt, or sodium chloride, is an inexpensive and plentiful chemical compound, which is why it has been such a popular ice melt choice for the last 100 years. It works by helping to lower the freezing point of water, which melts ice and thin layers of snow. But once rock salt becomes suspended in the melted ice and snow, it stays there and is carried into nearby vegetation and water drains as runoff. It then contaminates the soil into which it is absorbed, disrupting plants’ abilities to absorb water and nutrients, and stunting new growth, seed germination, and flower development.
Contaminated runoff can also make its way into nearby freshwater reserves, which is dangerous in two different ways. Firstly, it can end up in drinking water, affecting its taste as well as posing a health hazard to people on low-sodium diets. Secondly, increased salinity in lakes and rivers can pose a toxicity hazard to many types of aquatic animals, including fish, small invertebrates like crayfish, insects, and amphibians, which can lead to a reduction in these animals’ populations.
On a more industrial level, rock salt can also pose a danger to surrounding infrastructure. The chlorides in rock salt increase the conductivity of water and accelerate corrosion on metal. This decreases the longevity of bridges and causes damage to all types of vehicles. Rock salt can also cause damage to asphalt and concrete, especially when it isn’t properly sealed, leading to cracks and potholes. In addition, reinforcing rods buried in these surfaces will corrode, leading to compromised integrity.
Environmentally Friendly, People Friendly
As awareness of rock salt’s negative impact has grown, so has the desire for environmentally friendly ice melt products. These products are made with chemicals that can melt ice without also contaminating runoff, stunting or killing plants, or causing damage to roadways. One reliable and safer option is products made with magnesium chloride, like our Pet Safe Ice Melt. It contains one-third fewer chlorides than rock salt, which means it is far less likely to have a negative impact on plants or wildlife or to contaminate water supplies. It is also far less likely to cause corrosion on metals, or any type of damage to asphalt or concrete. As an added bonus, it also poses almost no risk to your pets, who can experience salt burns from walking in or accidentally ingesting rock salt. So if you’re interested in using an environmentally friendly ice melt product at your home or workplace, give our Pet Safe Ice Melt a try!