Out of salt? Try these ice melt alternatives

Jan 4 2017, 7:27 pm

Vancouver is going through an icy crisis.

People have been slipping, sliding, and even skating on city streets due to an accumulation of solidified snow and ice.

The lack of ice-melting salt available at shops in Vancouver prompted the City to make supplies available free of charge at ten fire stations beginning on the morning of January 4.

But the salt supplies at fire stations ran out in minutes, prompting anger and frustration amongst residents.

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The ice is not expected to melt on its own anytime soon. More snow and cold weather are in the forecast for this weekend, meaning the salt shortage will likely continue.

And don’t think you can get away with leaving your sidewalks a slippery, danger zone. Vancouver property owners and landlords are responsible for clearing snow from the sidewalks that surround their property by 10 am on the morning after the snowfall and are subject to fines if they fail to do so.

If you’re desperate for ways to get that ice off of your sidewalk and driveway, there are some helpful alternatives to salt that you can use.

Ice, begone!

If you want to attack that ice, here are some alternative options:

  • Heated mats – If you’re really desperate or absolutely loaded, heated mats will melt snow and ice and stop you slipping too. But they will cost you hundreds of dollars.
  • Potassium chloride pellets – When these pellets come into contact with ice or snow, they will pick up water to form a strong brine, and give off heat too.
  • Magnesium chloride flakes – This absorbs the water, and is less corrosive, more environmentally friendly, and leaves no visible trace after use.
  • Calcium chloride crystals – This works faster than some other options, so good if you’re on a deadline, but can damage grass and plants if overapplied.
  • Potassium acetate liquid – This may be hard to find in small amounts, as it is often used on an industrial scale, but you never know.
  • Urea/Fertilizer – One of the least toxic de-icers, but also not as effective as other options. Still, what it lacks in speed, it makes up for by providing grip too.
  • Beet juice – A great organic option, which reduces corrosion, and reportedly smells like honey. When used with a sugar and saline mix, it doesn’t even stain.
  • Table salt – Yes! This will work. However, the amount of table salt you’ll need means it could get pretty expensive. Perhaps try Costco?
  • Pool salt – Even if you don’t have a pool, there’s no harm in trying out pool salt, which is likely more environmentally friendly than other chemical options.
  • Water softener – You might not know this, but water softener is in fact salt. And it works to de-ice driveways too!

Note – Please remember you’ll need to help clear this stuff up when the cold snap passes. Unless you like walking around on alfalfa, of course.

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