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Salt Isn’t Ideal For Melting Ice


When the ice and snow from winter storms arrive, people usually look for the most efficient and easiest means of melting the ice. Salt has for many years been used for melting the ice. Below we will discuss the potential damages from salt and non-salt products in regards to both the local vegetation as well as the area’s ecosystem.

Risks and control of salt used to melt ice
When the high concentrations of salt build-up on a pavement where the ice melter has been applied, temporary damage to the soil will be inevitable, which will later result in inhibited growth or loss in vegetation. The damage in vegetation comes as a result of dehydration of plant cells once the moisture is extracted by the salts. The best thing is that the salt will quickly be diluted the Mother Nature’s rain, which will eventually allow the soil to return to its initial healthy state.
When it comes to melting the ice on pavement if you don’t have Safe Paw environmentally friendly ice melter then the following categories of salt could be applied:

Inorganic salt- Inorganic salt contains chloride Ion. Most people have the idea that the chloride content in the soil together with its effect on the environment is negligible as chlorine is one of the most stable elements in the atmosphere. Examples of inorganic salts are Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, and Calcium Chloride.

Organic salts – Organic salts contain acetate which is less aggressive on the soils as compared to organic salts. It’s capable of decay (biodegradable). This natural decay process is mostly thought to be ideal for the ecosystem. Generally, Acetate has a low demand for oxygen values biologically and this makes it a minor contributor to killing fish. Examples of organic salts are Sodium Acetate, Potassium Acetate, and Calcium Magnesium Acetate.

Risks and controls of non-salts used in ice melting – Common non-salt materials used for ice melting are Glycols, Urea, and fertilizers. Research has revealed that the use of non-salts can have effects on the ecosystem if they are not used properly. Runoff into storm sewers from pavements and lawns end up in streams, rivers, and lakes of the ecosystem.

Non-salt products with high biological oxygen demand values appear to promote excess nutrients. These excess nutrients then generate excess growth of plants leading to a reduction of oxygen in natural waterways hence leading to the fish kill. Fishkill then propagates throughout the ecosystem as some animals and birds use fish as their primary source of diet. These birds and animals then die as a result.

Urea and ethylene glycol are primarily used at the airports to melt ice since these products don’t cause rusts on metals.

Fertilizers that contain nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are used primarily to promote the growth of plants. Although urea and fertilizers are not very effective ice melters, they are often present in ice blending blends which are marketed as “green”. If they are used to melt ice, the optional application rates for fertilizers are more than 10 times the rate used for the promotion of plant growth.

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