The Home Front Blog

Using Salt on Your Concrete for De-Icing

Every winter, homeowners are faced with weighing the risks of slippery sidewalks and driveways vs. using a de-icing agent on these surfaces that contain salt.  De-icing products that contain salt can be very effective in making concrete surfaces less slippery but can be comprised of ingredients that are harmful to your concrete, metal objects, pets, children and the environment.

Many popular de-icing products contain calcium chloride, ammonium sulfates, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride and urea. Many of these cause skin irritations and can be harmful to the respiratory tract in both people and pets.  Aside from the health dangers posed from these products, they can also be damaging to concrete, brick and asphalt.

Another option to clear snow and ice covered walkways and driveways is to use a metal chipper. Metal chippers used with aggressive force can also do considerable damage to the concrete.

We all know the dangers of slippery walkways, so what should we be doing to ensure safe walkways while still caring for the concrete?  The most environmentally friendly, economical and safe way of dealing with icy walkways, driveways and stairs is to use a two-stage plan of attack.  First, shovel any accumulation of snow before it begins to melt and refreeze.  Next cover the area with a layer of sand.  While the sand will not melt the snow and ice, it will provide a good measure of traction.