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3 Alternatives To Rock Salt Deicers

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Because they help keep driveways, sidewalks and other forms of paving safe for walking, deicers are vital for anyone living in a snowy climate. Yet the traditional choice of deicer--rock salt--can cause unintended and costly damage to your garden, your pavement and your pets. If you would like to learn more about other deicing options, read on. This article will present three alternatives to rock salt.

Magnesium Chloride

Dissolving rock salt--a.k.a. sodium chloride--poses a significant risk to plants around your home. That's because it causes breakdown in the soil structure, as well as raising the soil pH and making it more difficult for the soil to retain water. This can lead to die-back of tree branches, browning of leaves, and even complete plant death.

That's where magnesium chloride comes in. Unlike the sodium in rock salt, plants are capable of processing high levels of magnesium. In fact, magnesium is one of three main plant nutrients. And while many people balk at the higher price tag, bear in mind that it takes much less magnesium chloride to do the same job as a huge bag of rock salt.

Potassium Acetate

Rock salt isn't just hard on plants; over time it can also cause unsightly and annoying damage to your pavement itself. You see, rock salt is a naturally corrosive substance. And when it liquefies and penetrates the porous surface of your pavement, it can lead to the formation of cracks and patches of spalling--especially when the temperatures are below zero.

Potassium Acetate is one deicer that presents a greatly reduced risk of damaging pavement. It is both non-corrosive and environmentally friendly. It has been proven to be safe not only for concrete, but for steel and vegetation as well. And it works too: potassium acetate is the substance most commonly used to deice parking aprons and runways at the airport.

Propylene Glycol

For those with pets, it is important to realize that rock salt presents a potential health hazard. For one thing, it can irritate the paws of animals that walk across it. This causes them to then lick the salt from their paws. Even a small dose of rock salt can lead to nausea or mouth burns, while larger doses can lead to vomiting, severe dehydration, and even death.

Propylene glycol is a highly effective deicer that works by absorbing excess water. Better yet, it won't irritate your pet's skin, and is even nontoxic when ingested. In fact, propylene glycol has actually been approved as a dog food additive! Contact a company like Bonneville Asphalt & Repair for more information about your options.