As I sit here in my office with an extra jacket to ward off the chill, I can see and hear the rain fall. It is the type of rain that is thin and steady, and reminds me that soon we will have freezing rain, then snow. That sets up another set of winter tasks, such as shoveling and de-icing.
When I moved from Connecticut to Pennsylvania I was surprised by the fact that so many people use commercial salt to deice the sidewalks and the driveways. Having a well, I know that salt can get into the groundwater, and really it is not recommended. In fact, our town had a law against using salt for this purpose.
So many people don’t realize that salt can be harmful for the environment. Beside the groundwater issue, salt collects on the edges of the roadway. Animals come along and consume it, leading to their demise.
It is estimated that 11 million tons of the stuff is used every year in the United States.
Natural and is a good alternative to salt. While it doesn’t necessarily melt the ice, it does provide traction. This is what my old town used every winter. The problem with sand, though, is that it often builds up, so that by spring everything needs a good sweep.
Another alternative may be one that you already have, and it eliminated the sandiness. The alternative is fireplace ash. You can collect the ask from your fireplace or wood-burning stove and use it on the ice to give you traction. Of course, proper care is essential. You want to make sure the ash is cold before storing it. Always use a metal bin or can that has a lid to prevent accidental fires. In the spring, the ash will dry out and simply blow away. As a bonus, any ash that makes its way onto your lawn will act as fertilizer.