The salted streets and sidewalks can be toxic to your children and pets. However, there are alternatives to the traditional rock salt that are eco-friendly and more effective. When you go in and out of the house, it’s important to wipe your feet off thoroughly and clean any residual salt off boots and shoes. Salt is effective for melting the ice and snow, but it may cause health problems if ingested and it’s harsh on the planet.
The following ingredients make up ice melts: sodium chloride, calcium carbonate and calcium magnesium acetate. Little research exists on the effects of road salt on human’s health. However, if pets ingest road salt, they can experience a loss of appetite, vomiting, salivation, diarrhea, seizures, increased thirst and death. When you have children or pets, you need to take their health into consideration and use safe, nontoxic products to de-ice your sidewalks and driveway.
Depending on what type of pet you have, you might already have sand or cat litter in your home. The National Animal Poison Control suggests using these products in place of road salt. The sand and litter are gritty materials that can provide traction for vehicles similar to the way that salt does. Using these alternatives also prevents plants from dying and soil from becoming acidic due to the salty runoff from your driveway.
A new product called Safe Paw Ice Melter is now on the market. It’s 100% salt-free and is safe for children, pets and the environment. Instead of having to wipe down shoes and dog paws every time you come back inside, you can rest assured that the material will not cause any negative side effects if ingested. But if you’re unable to buy a product like this, you need to take precautions to protect your family. For example, designate a set of boots for outdoor use only and keep shoes in a closed closet or room where children and pets can’t get to them.
We have depended on rock salt to clear our roads and make sidewalks less slippery, but the environmental side effects and potential health risks make alternatives more desirable. With more winter to come, try to use safer de-icing products around your home or at least limit your usage of rock salt.