Ice melting products that are for sale at home improvement and hardware stores may seem like a convenient option at first glance. But in reality, these products can hurt you, your kids, and your pets and can permanently damage your grass, landscape, and garden. In fact, these products usually contain a warning label that warns against direct contact with the salts (wearing goggles and rubber gloves are recommended) and forbids exposure to pets and children.
Most ice melting products contain a blend of calcium chloride and sodium chloride, essentially forming a strong rock salt. For dogs and cats, these salt-based ice melters are really a health hazard. Inevitably, the crystals become stuck and embedded in their fur and paws, leading to discomfort, irritation, skin ulcers, and can even cause bacterial infections. Furthermore, the ingestion of ice melting products (due to the licking of fur and paws) can cause horrendous intestinal problems and gastritis, making a trip to the vet not so uncommon.
As for ice melting products and kids, please also take caution. When children come in contact with the crystals, usually while playing in the snow out in the backyard, the salt gets everywhere; it sticks to clothing and can easily sting eyes. And we mean really sting— it is not fun! Aside from eye irritation, salt-based ice melting products also hurt and burn the skin, often causing redness, blisters, and dermatitis if your child is sensitive— Ouch! Accidental ingestion is also not so safe; it causes kidney damage and lots of stomach problems.
Lastly, ice melting products can ruin your whole lawn. The salt burns and kills grass and plants, leading to a dead garden and large, dry brown spots all over the lawn once the snow finally melts away. Salt also erodes soil and destroys soil health, displacing minerals and making it very difficult for your grass to grow back in the spring. Furthermore, salt residue can cause permanent damage to decks and concrete, tile and flagstone, asphalt, wood, floors, rugs— you name it. These rock salts are engineered to be extra strong, and are a huge no-no when it comes to caring for your lawn and landscape in the wintertime. As for its environmental effects, rock salt and ice melting products poisons birds and contaminates ground water and streams, ultimately harming local aquatic life.
Try to resist the temptation to speed things up this winter by dumping salt all over your property. Taking drastic measures to melt snow will NOT make the spring come any faster. Instead, we recommend just using an old fashioned shovel or a snowblower to clear a safe walking path. If you must use something on your sidewalk, use Safe Paw. But the best way to make sure your yard is prepared for snowfall is to take a defensive approach: remember to prune, rake your lawn before a big snow storm, make sure your plants are hydrated (snow and ice on dry plants or branches will cause them to snap off), and apply lots of mulch to your garden beds. Please also keep in mind that ice damage is better than salt damage, and is also much easier to reverse come spring.
Bundle up and stay warm out there!