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.