Eco-Aware Winter Safety
The demands of modern life sometimes pose some hard questions to our environmental principles. In winter, our angst becomes how best to defrost and de-ice our driveways, pavements and roads, in ways which won’t harm the environment but which will protect us from accidents.
Arguably the most common solution is rock salt – halite – which we normally see in as traditional brown rock salt, used by councils, businesses and individual home users to melt ice in temperatures as low as -9 degrees Celsius, and prevent it reforming.
Rock salt is a natural product, though this doesn’t mean that it can be used without caution. Brown, plus all the other salt-based de-icers on the market, all contain sodium chloride. In large amounts, sodium chloride can contribute to pollution of waterways, gardens, allotments and farmland.
This makes safety considerations during gritting season quite important though, despite the caution, it is a very safe product.
Here is a three-point plan of best practice when spreading rock salt, either on the road outside your home, on your garden path or driveway, or even around your business.
1. Choose The Right Salt De-Icer
There are many salt-based de-icing products on the market, which have been developed for optimum use in a range of different environments. Garden centres may stock them, or you can buy de-icer salts of different grades online. For example, in areas where footfall leads to and from a building entrance, a product like white rock salt or coarse grain de-icer, which leave much less residue than brown, are ideal.
If you browse online for de-icer salt, read the product information, which should tell you the types of environments it’s suitable for. Using the right product in the right environment will minimise the mess and spread of possible pollutants.
2. Store Rock Salt In A Bin
Wet or damp rock salt doesn’t give good value for money and is a bit of a raw deal for the environment. The majority of pedestrian and commercial spreaders are designed to maximise the distribution of dry product: wet salt clumps and refuses to spread evenly and efficiently. Because using too much would be an environmental hazard, it must be delivered and stored dry. Small businesses and home users can buy grit bins that are small enough to be unobtrusive in a garden location.
It’s true that there are methods of using it damp: vacuum road salt products are intentionally used damp (usually by council gritting teams) in conjunction with specialist spreading equipment. Implemented in this way, less is used over a period of time, meaning reduced risk of over-gritting and pollution.
3. Distribute Properly
For domestic users, there are two ways to distribute grit or de-icer products in your garden, on your driveway or across pavements and roads not served by council gritting teams: pedestrian push-along, or shovel/scoop.
Using a shovel can be absolutely back-breaking, especially if your rock salt has become damp; hand scoops are less arduous for scattering over small areas. If you’re lucky enough to have a bigger garden with a long driveway, or you live way off a main road, a pedestrian spreader is a great idea for your aches and pains. It’s also essential for even, economical coverage, avoiding over-salting.
This advice will help you and your family stay safe, while satisfying your environmental ethics. If you have any tips for de-icing, please share them!
Icethaw is the longest established supplier of rock salt to councils, public services, businesses and retail outlets, garden centres and domestic users in the UK.
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