To prevent this from devastating ecosystems, some agents can be used as an alternative to road salt to deice traffic roads in winter. Although the conventional deicing agent is widely used and cheap, its negative impact on lakes and rivers is growing. Chloride in road salt also corrodes vehicles and bridges and can even be harmful to pets. This accordingly affects wildlife, which could make its use for snow removal an even bigger problem. So are there actually sustainable, environmentally friendly and effective alternatives that can be used instead of salt? Here are some potential options that could be kinder to the environment.
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Why an alternative to road salt is needed
Road salt, also called rock salt, is a compound of sodium and chloride and has the same chemical composition as table salt. The difference between road salt or rock salt and table salt is that table salt is much more finely ground, often purified, and has additives such as iodine and anti-caking agents. Otherwise, it’s the same stuff. In addition, road salt is used to reduce the likelihood of a person slipping or a car sliding off the road. It improves traction on sidewalks, roads, parking lots, and public and commercial areas during cold seasons. But there is a lot of misinformation about the value and purpose of this little rock, and it’s time for the contractor’s relationship with salt to become better known.
The purpose of road salt is mainly to lower the freezing point to facilitate melting and prevent water from freezing. However, road salt is also not a one-size-fits-all solution and only works under certain conditions and temperatures. Once temperatures drop below -10 °C, its effectiveness diminishes. Accordingly, it is not a great resource to use on its own. The environmental impact and damage to infrastructure caused by salt consumption dominates the headlines every fall when the call to action is renewed. From drinking water to wildlife health and safety, the impact of salt on city streets and highways is unimaginable. The reach of salt consumption goes far beyond what you might think.
What are some potential alternative deicing agents?
Fortunately, many clever minds are coming up with new methods to melt snow and ice. In addition, there are creative and sustainable options, and often you need to use less of them to get the job done, while also costing less than road salt. You can even find these in your own home. They contain even more eco-friendly ingredients, including brine, coffee grounds and even beet molasses.
Using beet molasses as an alternative to road salt
More and more cities are using beet molasses to de-ice icy roads and sidewalks. Brine from cheese making and pickling, by the way, has the same benefits and is also becoming more popular. Beet molasses is a byproduct of sugar refining. The sugar it contains acts similarly to salt and lowers the freezing temperature of the water. The mixture is mixed with small amounts of salt – similar to the sand/salt mixture – and sprayed on roads. The stickiness of the mixture reduces salt runoff and helps maximize the effect of the salt.
Such products offer a highly concentrated, powerful deicing agent that is 99 percent biodegradable. It can be applied directly to ice to minimize environmental impact. Beet molasses can also still be incorporated into traditional road salt to increase its effectiveness and ultimately reduce the amount of harmful materials on driveways or sidewalks.
Use cucumber juice or cheese brine in deicing operations
The brine used to make cheese and cucumbers works similarly to road salt, except unlike large salt stones, the salt is held in the liquid. The salt water actually penetrates the concrete or asphalt, providing a deeper source of natural antifreeze. It also has a lower freezing temperature point than regular salt, making it more effective than road salt.
A layer between the roadway and falling snow helps prevent it from sticking, and the wet roadway can make snow shoveling easier as a result. Homeowners can minimize their own road salt use by filling a spray bottle with brine or a combination of beet molasses and salt to treat their own driveways and sidewalks.
Sand as a possible alternative to road salt
Sand can also be used to improve traction on roads for safe winter driving. Mixing salt and sand in a ratio of 5% salt to 95% sand could help reduce the amount of salt used on roads. However, sand is not a very popular alternative because it is expensive to clean for reuse and is often disposed of after the season. The material can also run off roads and clog sewer systems or any other type of drainage infrastructure.
So the use of sand also indicates a desire to find alternatives to road salt. Although it is not the best possible choice, the agent has made people think about making a change. In addition, the negative effects of sand on surrounding waters and plants are extremely low. However, the key to its use as an effective treatment for ice is to keep it on the surface. It acts as a traction agent rather than a melting element.
Is cat litter effective against ice?
For years, cat litter has been recommended as a helpful product if your car gets stuck in the snow. Although cat litter can give you traction on slick surfaces, the clay it contains clumps together, as it is intended to do. So the next time a storm hits, the stuff can ice up, too. Remember, too, that clay doesn’t decompose. It will remain in the environment long after you have cleared your car of snow. For the best deicing results with the least environmental impact, try one of the above methods and choose the safest and most effective ways to deice and clear snow .