With days below freezing fast approaching, you may need to de-ice your concrete walkways, sidewalks, stairs, and driveways. Here are some ways to do it.
Rock salt (also known as sodium chloride) is one of the most widely used deicing chemicals. It is inexpensive, easy to get, and works well (for temperatures above 15°F). Here in Texas, we may not have bags of it on-hand for de-icing. You can use table salt in a pinch, but it’s less effective than rock salt. If you can’t get rock salt, sprinkle a thin layer of table salt over the area you want to de-ice. The chemical reaction between the salt and the water results in heat, melting the ice.
Salt shouldn’t be your long-term solution for melting ice, because it can damage your lawn, erode your concrete, and cause animals to get sick! But in a pinch, it will do!
Calcium Chloride granules or powder is another form of salt that is great for deicing and is good for temperatures down to -20°F. Let’s hope we don’t need that, here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area! While a little safer than rock salt for plants and animals, it can still harm them in large quantities. You may have some on hand for other uses, and it’s readily available, but you’re probably less likely to have it on hand than you are table salt!
Pet and Environmentally Friendly Alternative Chemicals
If you’re worried about environmental impacts from deicers, there are plenty of eco-friendly deicers on the market. Many claim to be pet-safe, less damaging to lawn and waterways, and less damaging to your concrete, if slightly less effective than traditional de-icers. Many are available on Amazon.
A readily available option that many have right in their backyard is sand! It doesn’t melt ice, but it can add traction to slippery areas. If you’re looking for traction for your tires on a slightly inclined driveway or help keep your sidewalk just a little safer, sand is a great option that won’t degrade your concrete or hurt your lawn. The biggest downside is the mucky mess it makes when the ice finally melts, but that’s a mop problem, which is certainly better than an injury problem! Sand can help on stairs, but melting the ice is the safer solution!
Heated mats are an expensive solution, most likely added to a new build, and generally more widely used in areas that stay colder than Dallas-Fort Worth. If you live toward Collin County or any of the more northern counties in North Texas, and you’re building a new home or commercial property, this might not be a bad option to consider!
Anti-icing solution is a chemical spray that is applied to your sidewalks and driveways before wintery mixes and snowstorms happen. Most come as a liquid in a jug and use a sprayer similar to a fertilizer or pesticide sprayer. Many claim to be eco and bio-friendly and non-toxic, though, like any chemical you apply outside, you’ll want to use it as sparingly as possible. Anti-icers are fairly easy to find (though they may be more readily available in colder climates) and are a great choice for retail and multifamily properties, where slip and fall suits might be a concern.
Good, old fashioned shoveling might do what you need if your ice isn’t too thick and you don’t have too large a surface to shovel. You’ll want to use a flat, wide shovel if you have one available.