Typical warning label found on rock salt
and salt-based ice melt products:
"Danger! Keep away from pets and children.
Wear rubber gloves and goggles when using. Wash contaminated clothing and call doctor immediately
if contact with eyes or ingested."
A recent national survey shows that 60% of American households use rock salt and salt-based ice melt products during the cold winter months. And, an alarming 62% are unaware of the health dangers associated with the use of these products.
Rock salt and other salt-based ice melters contain sodium chloride or potassium chloride which can heat up to 175 degrees when exposed to water, ice, and low temperatures. Often these white pellets (crystals) sit on ice and snow surfaces for a long period before penetrating. This presents a danger to pets, children, surfaces, and the environment.
Pets—For dogs, in particular, exposure to salt-based ice melters can mean an unhealthy winter and unplanned trips to the veterinarian. The salts get frozen into the dogs paws and fur. When they are inside with higher temperatures, these salts can burn the skin causing ulcers and redness to tissue which can lead to bacterial infections. Dogs can also develop intestinal problems and inflammation of the stomach (gastritis) from licking the salt-based products off their paws.
Children—Children come into contact with salt-based pellets while playing in the snow. These products can irritate eyes and accidentally ingesting them can cause stomach problems and kidney damage. Direct contact with the skin can lead to dermatitis, rashes, and blistering.
Surfaces and the Environment—Salt residue left over from these products causes permanent damage to pavers, asphalt, concrete, wood decks, floors, and rugs. It later seeps into groundwater supplies or washes into lakes and streams and harms aquatic wildlife. Salt-based ice melters also erode soil, kill plants, burn grasses, and poison birds.