Saturday, December 27, 2008

All This Snow

I was out shoveling the drive this evening. It was very still, except for the sound of my shovel scraping across the drive and the snow was still coming down and it was very peaceful. I could see the Christmas lights twinkling from down the street. I bought some ice melter the other day, thinking that it would help relieve me of the burden of shoveling the drive. Then I read the label. This is kind of like the time I bought the leaf shredder from my neighbor. I somehow thought that it would reduce the amount of leaves to about what would fit in a 5 gallon bucket. Wrong. And it was a lot of work, raking up all those leaves and running them through the shredder then spreading them around the flower beds and digging it in to the soil to decompose. I guess I thought the ice melter would somehow turn a driveway covered in snow into... something other than a driveway covered in snow and it would somehow all just go away. Wrong again.
So what does ice melter do and how does it do it? Well, when you read the fine print you find out that what it does is keep the snow from adhering to whatever it has fallen onto, like your driveway or sidewalk and it should be put down before it snows, not after. Who is going to remember to do that?! Ice melters are made from several different substances. The cheapest ice melter is rock salt. More expensive ice melters are made of different types of chlorides, including magnesium chloride and potassium chloride. Ice melters can melt down to different temperatures as well. Some go as low as -20 . Anything with chlorides in it will be corrosive to some degree or another and also damaging to plants. The lower the sodium chloride the safer the ice melter for your plants, deck and sidewalk.
There are organic ice melters now on the market that are completely safe for plants, decks and sidewalks. They melt down to -50 . They are even less corrosive than water and you won’t track the residue into your house. They are liquid and you can apply them with a pressurized sprayer. I have used it around my house this year and it seemed to work as advertised. I sprayed it before the snow fell and it did seem easier to shovel the snow from the front walk.

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