Both salt and sand have been put to the test this winter. It seems that every other week gives us a melt and then a refreeze. Some weeks I should have laced up and skated to work. But which product is best when it comes to eliminating the ice issues?
Salt has been used on roads for decades as an effective solution to keeping ice off of the roads. Rock salt, which is essentially the less refined version of table salt, is the mineral form of sodium chloride. Its effect on the icy/snowy roads and walkways is to lower the freezing point of water. It tends to be effective to about minus 10 degrees Celsius. Another plus is that it continues to work if covered by fresh snow and ice, and as the rocks melt, they seep into fresh areas and spread their ice fighting ability. It is a cheap, readily available, and reliable option. However it is very harsh nearby greenery (such as your lawn and garden), and can cause corrosion on steel and concrete. That being said, use salt sparingly to avoid any of these negative side effects.
Sand on the other hand will create traction in any temperature. If it is 50 below, sand will help keep you grounded. This is because sand does not actively melt as salt does, rather it aids in abrasion and increases friction between you and the slippery surface. This is great on the coldest of days, but if it gets covered by fresh snow and ice, you will need to reapply. After it is covered its efficacy is drastically reduced. Now you won’t have the same chemical side effects that you get with salt (corrosiveness), but too much sand will add to your spring clean-up. It can clog drains, and be a real pain to get out of your lawn (call Harbourview Property Management to book a lawn sweep).
The third option would be the safety salts and engineered products. Many of these boast very low temperature application without the severe side effects. Many are eco-friendly and pet safe as well. The down side is that they are more expensive and not as readily available.
So pick your battles when it comes to ice and snow. I suggest using combinations depending on the areas you are attacking. Liability aside, slick walkways, driveways etc. are a big safety concern. Don’t neglect to keep on top of it for your own sake. Safety First!