Ice Melt – Sand, Salt and Everything in Between!

  • Home Owner Tips
  • Friday, February 16, 2018

Winter is in full force in Alberta, and with it comes homeowner responsibilities such as breaking down ice on concrete walks and driveways. In addition, seasonal temperatures and varying precipitation may cause cracking in your sidewalks and driveway. Surface impact, weathering and freeze/thaw cycles may cause flaking, spalling and pitting in your concrete.

After heavy snowfalls, ensure you use gravel, sand, salt or ice melt to help keep ice from forming and reduce the risk of slips and falls. Read on for different methods, products and techniques on how to melt ice on your doorstep, driveway and sidewalk, while protecting your investment.

Sand/Salted Gravel

The City of Calgary provides a sand and salt-coated gravel mixture (also called pickle) at no cost to Calgarians for use on public sidewalks. This special mixture assists in breaking down built up ice on sidewalks so ice and snow can fully be removed and the concrete can be safe and walkable again.

You can find this mixture in sandboxes at most fire stations and road maintenance district offices. For more information on exact locations, please visit the City of Calgary’s website here.

De-icing Salt

You can buy de-icing salt or ice melt from most hardware stores, such as Canadian Tire or Home Depot. Most de-icers on the market are made from one or more of five materials – calcium chloride, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, and urea.

De-icers work to get the same job done, however, they differ in speed and temperature – in that the de-icer either releases or absorbs heat upon contact with snow and ice.

Precautions When Using De-Icing Salt

Treatment should be carried out according to the manufacturer’s directions, but certain general guidelines apply to all products.

    • You don’t have to wait, as pre-application can be very effective. If you are certain snow is coming, getting the ice meltdown first can have a huge impact on the ice and snow removal.
    • Be careful when applying product near your lawn or vegetation, as salt removes moisture from the soil, which will prevent it from nourishing your lawn’s roots. This will leave your lawn dehydrated, brown and withered. If you are unsure, try an alternative ice-melt product. Garden centers sometimes carry ice-melt alternatives that safe for landscape use, or you can try sand or kitty litter to give you traction over small, slippery areas.
    • Less is more: disperse properly – a larger amount of ice melt or salt will not necessarily affect the speed which ice and snow melts. Using too much product can damage certain surfaces and harm the environment. Extra Tip: Using a fertilizer dispenser will help you to evenly distribute de-icing salt around needed areas.
    • Clean it up: when entering your home, ensure you are cleaning up salt that may be brought in with footwear, as it may leave a white residue that can dull finish on wood floors.
    • Pets’ paws: De-icing salt can cause severe irritation to your dog’s paws, and can result in health problems for your pets when licked. If you are a pet owner, you may want to consider an eco-friendly alternative for your pooch!
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