De-icing your driveway in the winter months is important for everyone’s safety, but what you may not know is that using salt can have a negative impact on the environment.
In the winter months it seems like environmentally degrading behaviours become the norm in trying to survive the cold and the harsh weather that gets thrown our way. Everything from running our furnaces, heating up our cars before travelling to salting our driveways has an extended impact on the planet. Most of us are aware of the negative consequences of running furnaces and our cars for longer periods of times—especially since one of these consequences is our wallet getting hit with higher bills. But what many of us may not be aware of is the negative consequences that can result from using salt to melt the ice on our properties.
The negative consequences
Rock salt alternatives includes the following negative consequences of salt use on their blog, and they aren't the only company to recognize these negative impacts.
When the snow and ice melt the salt stays with it, and it will often runoff into the soil of nearby vegetation. This reduces the nutrients and minerals in the soil and cause the soil to become dense ultimately causing plants with poor health and less plant growth.
Dangerous for pets and wildlife
Rock Salt Alternatives says that the use of salt is especially dangerous for dogs whose paws will be irritated by the salt and could even cause an infection in extreme cases. In addition to the skin irritation, it can impact the intestinal tracts of animals (such as dogs, cats and other creatures wondering around your property) causing them to become sick.
Dangers Concrete and Stone
Concrete is a porous material, which means that it absorbs water from the melted ice and snow. This isn’t a problem until the water freezes again, and since the volume of ice is greater than the volume of water, the freezing process causes expansion of the water cracking the material as explained by Rock Salt Alternatives. This not only is an expensive fix, but the process of fixing it is also costly to the environment.
Of course, to safely walk through your driveway or up your front steps, simply ignoring ice isn’t an option. The good news is that there are alternatives to salt that are effective in either melting the snow or adding traction.
This recommended by a variety of sources, including Rock Salt Alternatives, Mr. Pavement (a driveway making/repairing company), and HuffPost. According to these sources sand adds traction thanks to it’s texture, and because of it’s colour it absorbs more sunlight helping to melt the ice and snow on sunny days. It is an environmentally friendly de-icing option that won’t harm animals or soil that encounter it.
According to Mr. Pavement, this is the most environmentally friendly method of de-icing because it lowers the freezing temperature of water.
This will melt the ice after a few rounds of pouring.
Huff post says that this material is usually used in fertilizing, and that it is environmentally friendly. It is de-icing and it adds traction thanks to its texture.
Like sand, the dark colour will help to absorb more heat from the sun, and the texture adds traction.
Bonus environmentally friendly aspects of using coffee grinds: Leftover grinds (once dry) could be used, giving what would otherwise be waste a second life. Coffee grinds are also recommended for feeding plants, so when the weather starts to warm again this will add nutrients to the soil.
If you have a fireplace, then Rock Salt Alternatives recommends using the ashes to help de-ice and add traction to your drive way. The colour and texture of ashes works the same way sand does for de-icing—through texture and the increased absorption of the suns heat.
With these natural alternatives were all able to combat the snow and ice on our properties and do this without harming the environment, reducing our over all environmental impact in the winter months.