Going Green: Salting Your Sidewalk or Driveway Can Be Harmful

Published 12/10 2013 02:12PM

Updated 01/09 2014 10:48AM

Salting your sidewalk or driveway can make walking or driving safer and easier in the winter, but it can also be very harmful to you, your children, and your pets.

There are different option for ice melt, but the main ingredient is usually salt and harmful chemicals that can irritate skin, paws, and digestive systems.

WFFT's Tara Petitt has some tips on how to melt the ice without paying a price.

"They don't want you eating that stuff."

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 temps.

This can freeze into your pet's paw and fur, and can burn their skin causing ulcers, and intestinal problems can occur.  Children come into contact with the ice melt when playing in the snow.  This can irritate their eyes and cause serious stomach problems if ingested.

"With rock salt, it tends to kill grass, not good for pets, and it's not good for concrete.  Especially new concrete."

There are alternatives to regular rock salt that are advertised as being "safe for pets" and "safe for the environment" but the main active in these is sodium chloride, same as rock salt.

The harmful chemicals in even the "save" ice melts found in stores are strong enough to cause permanent damage to asphalt, concrete, wood decks, floors, and rugs.

Down the line it can seep into groundwater, erode soil, kill plants, burn grasses, and poison wildlife.

"Why do you think it bothers concrete?  Because that salt is an acid, that's all it is , so you gotta think about your insides when you put it on your food."

Environmentalists suggest when shopping for ice melt, check the ingredients and purchase a product that doesn't use salt as it's main ingredient.

Calcium magnesium acetate, or CMA, is a simple ice melt that will de-ice your sidewalks and driveway, and have less of an impact on the environment.

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