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Salt Hazards – Is Rock Salt Poisonous To Humans?

salt to melt ice

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 to reduce ice around the home. An alarming 62% of Americans are unaware of the health dangers associated with the use of these products on your children, pets, and property.

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. There are safe alternatives such as Safe Paw.

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Is Rock Salt Toxic?

While salt is good at melting snow and ice, it poses some health concerns to humans and animals. There are other concerns you should be aware of, including corrosion and potential property damage. Here are some common disadvantages of using ice melting salt.


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.


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 dog’s 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.

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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.

These are some of the dangers of using a snow melter salt around your property. But many times, we ignore these salt hazards when buying ice melt and end up dumping toxic chemicals around our kids, pets, and plants. 

Why Do We Need Safe Ice Melt?

Last winter, Diana shifted to a new neighborhood. She is a homeowner with two young kids and a dog. They enjoyed living in this green and pet-friendly community. Soon she became good friends with her neighbor and started sharing tips on kids and pets. 

Before winter arrived, Diana and her neighbor both got their ice melt solutions. Diana got herself an ice melt salt, whereas her neighbor opted for a natural salt-free ice melt. As the snow started falling, both the neighbors got busy spreading ice melt and making their premises free from snow and ice.

Ice accumulation on your driveway and walkways can lead to slip and fall accidents and can even damage the surfaces underneath due to freeze-thaw cycles.

During this period of snowfall, Diana’s children started complaining of rashes and itching. At the same time, her pet also suffered from an infection in its paws. That was a very trying period for her as she could not understand the cause behind these problems. 

She decided to consult her neighbor, who was a doctor. She told her,’ I do not know what happened to my kids and dog? They all were fine two days back but now both the kids have rashes and my pet has infected paws. Is it some allergy or a symptom of a disease?’

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Her neighbor asked her about their last two days’ routine. Diana informed her that all three played in the snow for some time. Then she asked,’ Have you used any salt on ice?’ Diana told her that she has got salt for snow removal and has used it after the snowstorm. 

Her neighbor said,’ Do you know what does ice and salt do to your skin? They form a powerful brine solution that can melt ice but harm the kids. It can cause rashes and blistering. If salt goes in your eyes, it can lead to eye irritation.’

Diana then said,’ What happens if you eat rock salt?’ 

Her neighbor informed her that if a child ingests it by mistake, he needs immediate medical care, as it can cause stomach problems and kidney damage.’

Diana was appalled to know this. She then asked, ‘Is rock salt bad for dogs?’ At this, her neighbor told her that these salts are equally dangerous for pets. They can burn their skin, cause ulcers, redness, and intestinal problems if licked. She also told her that these salts can also kill her plants and can damage her concrete. Salt on ice is never a safe option for anyone.

Diana realized her mistake. She bought an ice melt that was cheap and readily available without going through its components and disadvantages. She promised herself that she will do her research before buying an ice melt.

Get ready for winter with the ONLY Pet Safe Ice Melt you can trust

What Did Diana Find In Her Research?

During the winter months, many salts are used to help with the removal of snow, slush, and ice from highways. Five of the most prevalent types utilized in deicing operations are as follows: 

This salt is similar to what you would find on the table at home or in a neighborhood restaurant, though it is not as finely ground. Sodium chloride, often known as halite, is a dark grey powder often presoaked to prevent it from scattering when put on the road. It is one of the most toxic salts used in ice melt.

Magnesium chloride is a type of salt frequently put on roadways in a liquid form before the winter weather. Magnesium chloride is a low-cost substance that slowly releases heat as it dissolves, allowing it to fight snow and ice. It gives heat while melting snow, and it can burn the pet’s paws and even the delicate skin of your kids.

Like magnesium chloride, calcium chloride can be synthesized or found naturally. It is applied on icy roads in liquid form and is especially useful in extremely cold temperatures. It is more effective than sodium chloride and has a lower environmental impact, but it is also more expensive. 

Because this road salt is ineffective at low temperatures, it is not a popular choice in the dead of winter. However, it is frequently mixed with other salts to reduce the detrimental environmental effects. Potassium chloride is safer than sodium chloride since it occurs naturally in plants. But when used in a salt blend with other corrosive chlorides, it becomes equally dangerous.

A growing number of salt mixtures are in use around the country, with many of them developed in response to the detrimental environmental effects of salt. One such mixture is potassium and sodium chloride. 

Diana was well aware of the nuisances brought by salts, hence all these ice melt salts are a big no for her. But is there a safe alternative to these ice melts?

Salt-Free Ice Melt

Safe Paw - Pet Safe Ice Melt

Safe Paw

The Original and the #1 Pet and Child Safe Ice Melt for over 20 years. Guaranteed environmentally safe – will not harm waterways and sensitive wetlands.

It is an environmentally friendly product that does not include salt. It can replace all of the salt ice melts. The environment will not be endangered by a product that does not contain salt. Here is how it works

  • Spread it anywhere on the ice and snow you need to remove. 
  • A deicing liquid is ejected from the crystal, speeding up the melting process. 
  • It breaks down the molecular structure of ice and snow, preventing water molecules from rebuilding into ice crystals. 
  • The granules drill through ice in 10 minutes, weakening it.

It has a unique combination of a crystalline amide core laced with magical glycols that are non-corrosive and non-toxic, and it uses a patented dual-effect compound. This combination makes it quick to act and accelerates the melting process. Not only is it safer, but it is also more effective than other rock salt options. It is a pellet-based alternative to rock salt and can cover more area. It does not damage concrete, brick, or wood structures, or roadways. Unlike other rock salt alternatives, it is of the highest quality and is environmentally friendly.

How To Buy A Safe Ice Melt?

1. Check the composition of the ice melt jar.

Do check the composition of your ice melt before purchasing it. By going through it, you will find out whether the ice melt contains any disastrous salts or not. The Safe Paw jar mentions

  • Non-toxic safe if ingested
  • Safe on paws, eyes, and skin
  • Melts in sub-zero temps
  • Safe on all decking materials

2. Research Online For The Product

Diana went through the product website and researched different ice melt brands. She read online reviews, read testimonials, and watched videos.

Most of the reviews were in favor of natural salt-free ice melt

According to one review, salt-free natural ice melt is better for the environment and animals. There is only one planet for us and we all should keep it healthy. This ice melt is also safe to use on asphalt driveways and pathways. 

Unlike most ice melters that claim to be safe for pets and concrete, brick, and other hard surfaces, another customer claims that this all-natural product is safe for all of these. There is no salt in it, not even rock salt. 

Despite the statements on the label of most rock salts, especially those advertised as pet safe, it is not safe for dogs or concrete. One of the proud pet owners admits that this ice melt helps her save time and trouble while keeping her kids and pets safe. She can let her kids and dogs play in the snow without worrying about any harmful chemicals.

3. Check Safety Regulations

On the site of a very popular ice melt, Diana found out that it completes all the safety regulations and has been recognized by various authorities.

It contains no salt and is suitable for children and pets. It has garnered several major awards for being safe for people, pets, and the environment. 

1. Governmental awards in the United States 

2.Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) Green Product Seal of Approval for family-friendly and effective products https://www.ptpamedia.com/services/parent-tested-parent-approved-seal-of-approval/ 

3. Inclusion in the Whole Green Catalog – 1000 Best Things for the Earth http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20428277,00.html 

Pediatricians, veterinarians, wildlife experts, groomers, animal shelters, and humane organizations all endorse it.

4. Choose Wisely

First and foremost, not every product on the market is safe for you and your concrete since some manufacturers offer snowmelt that contains chemicals or salts that are potentially harmful to kids, pets, plants, and concrete. 

Such compounds are hazardous for your and your family’s well-being. They can damage the surface and possibly produce fissures, especially if the concrete is brand new. Selecting a product that is safe for all and suitable for concrete is critical. It is also worth noting that these products hurt not just the surface but also the environment. 

Get an ice melt that is salt-free and safe. It will not only keep you safe but also keep nearby plants alive without polluting the water bodies. Best ice melt means safe families with fewer injuries and better ecological balance.

You can get your salt-free natural ice melt from any nearby store or can order it online.


You need to take care of your household this winter but do make sure to take care of your neighbors as well. As Diana was helped by her neighbor in her moment of crisis, the same way, we all can help each other. We can work together to ensure a healthy environment for ourselves, kids, and pets. Start preparing early for winters and consult experts beforehand. You can also talk to the ice melt manufacturer for a demo or call them for technical help. 

Get ready for winter with the ONLY Pet Safe Ice Melt you can trust


A. While rock salt isn’t typically poisonous to humans, consuming large amounts could lead to sodium toxicity. Moreover, it isn’t meant for consumption as it’s not processed or cleaned like table salt.

A. Salt can corrode metal and damage concrete and asphalt surfaces over time. It can also harm nearby plants and contaminate water bodies, affecting aquatic life.

A. Yes, rock salt can be harmful to pets. If ingested, it can lead to salt poisoning, and it can also cause paw irritation. Pet owners should clean their pets’ paws after walking on treated surfaces.

A. While it’s chemically similar to table salt, rock salt isn’t intended for consumption. It may contain impurities and isn’t processed or cleaned like table salt.

A. Dangers include the potential for sodium toxicity if ingested by humans or pets, environmental contamination, and damage to infrastructure and vegetation.

A. There are salt-free alternatives like calcium magnesium acetate and certain products marketed as pet-safe, like Safe Paw. These are generally less corrosive and safer for pets, but can be more expensive and less effective at very low temperatures.

A. Yes, rock salt can corrode metal and damage concrete and asphalt. It can also harm plants if it accumulates in the soil. Using it sparingly and appropriately can help minimize damage.

Instant Traction In Icy Driveways

Other Ice Melt Products

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Author: Shweta Saxena

Shweta, a passionate pet lover and environmental advocate, has dedicated herself to promoting winter safety for pets. Living amidst the scenic, snowy landscapes of Canada, she expertly merges her love for animals with her exceptional writing talents. Her commitment is deeply rooted in ensuring the well-being of pets during the harsh winter months.

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