23 September 2012

Ice-melt, harmful to childern, pets concrete, cars?

Q. Is ice-melt harmful to children, pets, concrete, cars, the environment or other property?

A. This question can be answered generally. The label and Material Safety Data Sheet of each particular ice-melt product should be read carefully. In varying degrees between the different compounds the answer is; yes. If these products come in contact with skin the area should be washed with soap and water. An example of a common problem would be walking your dog on a snowy day, when you return from your walk you should take time to wash your dog's paws. Inevitability, your dog has picked up ice-melt products on its paws. This can be tracked into the home and can cause the dogs skin to dry and become irritated. These compounds can also shorten the life of clothing (boots, gloves, etc.)  Sodium chloride (rock salt) being far worse than the others. On concrete ice-melt products that have lower melting temperatures reduces the number of freeze to thaw cycles and are less damaging than ice- melt products with higher melting temperatures. Therefore, sodium chloride (rock salt) is the worst of all the products. The problem is that frequent freeze to thaw cycles can cause concrete to flake. It is not the chemical make up of the ice-melt that causes the flaking it is the thawing and refreezing. Concrete flaking can be caused by the weather without any ice-melt being applied. The danger is especially high with concrete that is less then two years old and which may not have completely cured to reach its full strength. Care should be taken to wash cars soon after a storm has passed. Chloride ions are corrosive to metals; compounds with less chloride are therefore less corrosive. Some ice-melts are even 90% less corrosive then sodium chloride (rock salt.) In the environment, at high levels most of these products can kill plants. Some of them are used as ingredients in fertilizers and won't harm plants in low levels. Sodium chloride (rock salt) is the biggest problem to plants and sand is the biggest problem in the air. Oily residues in liquid magnesium chloride and calcium chloride can be slippery when tracked in doors on hard floors and hard to clean from carpet.