Archive for Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Five Questions: Breaking the ice

Melting products can carry some risk

Ice-melting or de-icer products can be effective in the battle against Old Man Winter if used correctly. But if they are overused or misapplied, they can damage concrete as well as nearby plant materials, including lawns and shrubs.

Ice-melting or de-icer products can be effective in the battle against Old Man Winter if used correctly. But if they are overused or misapplied, they can damage concrete as well as nearby plant materials, including lawns and shrubs.

January 12, 2011

Kansas State University Research and Extension Service answers these questions about de-icers.

Q: What materials are used in ice-melting products?

A: There are five main materials that are used as chemical de-icers: calcium chloride, sodium chloride or salt, potassium chloride, urea and calcium magnesium acetate.

Q: What’s the most popular?

A: Calcium chloride is the traditional product that has been used most often. It is one of the most frequently used materials for road and highway de-icing, and it is effective. It will transform ice into a slippery, slimy surface. This product is effective to about minus 25 degrees. Plants are not likely to be harmed unless excessive amounts are used.

Q: What about salt?

A: Sodium chloride is the least expensive material available. It is effective to approximately 12 degrees but can damage soil, plants and metals.

Q: Is something similar to vinegar also being marketed as a de-icer?

A: Calcium magnesium acetate, or CMA, is a newer product that is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid, the main compound found in vinegar. CMA works differently than other materials in that it does not form brine like salts, but rather helps prevent snow particles from sticking to each other on the surface. It has little effect on plant growth or concrete surfaces. The product works best when temperatures remain about 20 degrees.

Q: Are any of these de-icers better than the other?

A: All of these products are acceptable for use. Limited use of any of these products should cause little damage. Problems occur when de-icers are used excessively and there is not adequate rainfall to wash or leach the material from the area.

Comments

JerryB 3 years, 3 months ago

This article seems as good of a place as any to ask: Are people aware of the law requiring property owners to shovel their sidewalks following snowfall?

Does the city do anything about enforcing the regulations pertaining to shoveling snow from sidewalks following storms?

As someone who enjoys being outdoors throughout the year, winter can be particularly frustrating in this town when so few shovel their walks. I understand the occasional elderly homeowner who is unable, but it seems much more the norm around here to not shovel, even for those that are perfectly able. I'd estimate fewer than 1 in 10 even attempt it.

It might be a good story idea for this paper to tackle--if for no other reason, as a public service announcement.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.