Are there Alternatives to Salting?
Salt works well because as it dissolves, heat is released which melts snow and ice. Sand provides traction which increases our ability to walk and drive safely, but it will not melt snow. Deicing mixers do melt snow and ice but in order to be effective, the mix must contain a higher concentration of salt. So, in the end, how much are we really sparing the environment and what else is being substituted for salt instead? Oftentimes, there are also dyes and other questionable substances in deicing mixes that make them a less attractive solution.
Many countries are currently attempting to address this issue. For instance, in America, there is an effort to cut down on the amount of salt used for each snowfall. In Germany, the practice of wetting the salt before adding it has helped cut down on the amount of salt used. I’ve even read a few articles that have recommended planting salt resistive plants around the edges of areas affected by salt usage.
WarmlyYours offers another solution now: radiantly heated driveways, walkways, and stairs. Snow melting cables or mats are installed underneath the asphalt or concrete. A sensor can be used to detect precipitation and temperature which in turn activates the snow melting system, melting the snow as it falls. This makes for a much safer walkway or driveway and no harsh chemicals are used in the process. However, just like with any deicing system there will always be pros and cons. Though you will be able to melt the snow without the use of salt, the system does run on electricity and will result in an increase in electricity usage. If used wisely though, the additional cost will be well worth it!
Ultimately, the decision about how to remove snow and ice is a personal one that homeowners and business owners alike will make. Different people have different priorities; I just believe that people should have all the facts so they can make an informed decision. That way, folks are more aware of how their actions will affect their lives and the planet.