Slippery sidewalks? De-ice the green way

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has a nifty monthly newsletter – and this month is particularly helpful if you are dealing with icy sidewalks (and save you lucky folks in Miami, who isn’t dealing with this?!)

Here’s what they have to share:

De-icing salts can damage the plants along your sidewalk and street. These salts also wash away with melted snow and flow into our lakes and rivers. What to do?

Preventing ice is the best way to reduce the impact of salts:

  • Shovel sidewalks as soon as possible after a snowfall.
  • Deposit snow in a location where it won’t cause future problems during melting/refreezing.
  • Remove slush and soft snow on warm days.
  • Fix rain gutter leaks and direct downspouts away from sidewalks and driveways.

Choose a nicer de-icer. Even the best scrapers and chippers may face an ice problem. Use a de-icer to lower the freezing temperature of the water, causing the ice to break apart. Choices you’ll see at the local hardware store:

  • Salts—sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, or magnesium chloride—are toxic to plants, trees, and waterways. One teaspoon of salt can contaminate 5 gallons of water forever, so use as little as you need to get the job done.
  • Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) and other acetate de-icers are salt-free, have a low toxicity, and are biodegradable. They do, however, contribute excess nutrients to our waterways and must be applied appropriately.

De-icers aren’t for melting away every bit of snow and ice. Use enough to break the ice away from the pavement, then shovel away the remaining slush. See the MPCA’s Sidewalk Maintenance Manual for further information.

– Thanks MPCA!

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