Environmentally Friendly Snow- and Ice-Removal Tips

Follow these tips to keep your driveway and sidewalks ice-free, while minimizing the environmental impact.

Shovel Early, Shovel Often
Removing fresh snow before it has a chance to harden into ice is the best way to keep your pavement clear. Deicers work best on thin layers of snow or ice that need to be melted, so shovel first, break up any ice patches you can and then add the salt.

Apply Salt Sparingly
Scatter the deicer and leave space between the grains. A 12-ounce coffee mug full of salt is enough to treat a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares. Using more than the recommended amount of salt won’t speed up melting.

Buy Early and Check Labels
Buy your de-icing product before the big storm, so you don’t end up staring at empty shelves in the stores. Check the label before you buy — although slightly more expensive, calcium chloride (CaCl2) requires less salt, works at lower temperatures and does not contain cyanide, unlike sodium chloride (NaCl, rock salt). Urea is sometimes promoted as “lawn-friendly,” as excess urea will act as a fertilizer. However, the application rate for urea is far greater than your lawn would require, and most of the excess urea will only end up “fertilizing” the stream.

Avoid Kitty Litter and Ashes
While these products are environmentally friendly, they are only marginally effective at adding traction, and don’t melt ice. If you need traction, mix in a small amount of sand and use less salt as a better option.