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Break the Ice Without Scorching the Earth: Non Toxic De-Icers

snow shovel shoveling snow and ice
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In many parts of the country this week, streets and walkways are covered in snow and ice, and everyone is using salt, sand and other chemical de-icers to make their streets safe for travel. But not all de-icers are alike, and some are downright harmful to your pets, your children and your local streams and rivers

Why Conventional De-Icing Salt is Dangerous

Urea, potassium nitrate (KNO3), rock salt, table salt (NaCl), and baking soda are common de-icers that are cheap and do a good job of melting ice. But when the snow melts and rain falls in the spring, the salts and nitrates in them quickly run off the streets and sidewalks where they kill soil life, grass, trees and other plants they come in contact with.

Eventually these pollutants run off into the nearest waterway where they kill frogs, fish and other aquatic life.

Common de-icing salts are also notorious for tearing up or burning the paws of dogs and cats who walk on them, for sickening children who play in snow and ice that has been treated with them, and for causing corrosion on driveways, vehicles and roadway structures.

Increasingly cities have been using beet sugar to help melt ice. Beet sugar (or any sugar) increases the effectiveness of de-icing salt so you can use much less of it—which is great for watersheds and city budgets—but all beet sugar is genetically engineered, so its use encourages more GMO sugarbeets to be planted.

And more GMO sugarbeets means a lot more toxic Round-up in the environment and on our dinnerplates, more soil fertility destroyed, more herbicide resistant superweeds, more genetic contamination of organic sugarbeets, beets and Swiss chard, and a greater monopoly over our seed supply by Monsanto. Yikes!


Eco Friendly Ice Melting Salt

Instead of using conventional de-icing salt and GMO sugar this winter, head down to your local hardware store or shop online and pick up some “pet-safe” de-icer made from calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), potassium chloride (KCl), or calcium chloride (CaCl2) to melt the ice around your home or business.

When these non-toxic de-icing products run off with the snowmelt, the minerals they contain can actually fertilize the plants they come into contact with.

Good brands include:

Some of these products can be applied right before a snowstorm to help prevent the build up of ice and snow. And they are non-toxic and non-corrosive, so they won’t harm people, pets or property. Add a little sugar to them, and they’ll work even better!

With the right de-icer, safe winter travel means streets that are both clear of snow and ice and free of harmful chemicals and GMOs too!

Here’s a safe, cheap, non-toxic recipe to help prevent ice build-up on your car windows.

White Vinegar and Water Window Deicer

  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  1. Mix 3 cups of white vinegar and 1 cup of lukewarm water in a bowl or pot.
  2. Stir the mixture with a spoon and use a funnel to fill a spray bottle with the solution.
  3. Liberally spray the vinegar and water solution on to your car’s windshields, side windows and outer mirrors before you go to bed. The vinegar and water solution will help keep ice from forming on your car’s windshield overnight, even if they get covered with snow.

About the author

Dawn Gifford

Dawn Gifford

Dawn is the creator of Small Footprint Family, and the author of the critically acclaimed Sustainability Starts at Home - How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. After a 20-year career in green building and environmental sustainability, chronic illness forced her to shift her expertise and passion from the public sphere to home and hearth. Get the whole story behind SFF here.


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