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Your Concrete in Winter

As the cold approaches, think twice about using products to melt the snow on your concrete. Not only can they be harmful to you and your pets, but they can also interfere with the freeze-thaw cycles in concrete and damage your driveway. To protect against slipping, the best choice is SAND! Check out what expert Bob Vila has to say about it.

"Besides our snowblower and snow shovels, what do we need? For the average homeowner, rock salt and sand are the most attainable options. But what’s the difference? Which should we use?

Rock Salt
Rock salt, the mineral form of sodium chloride (table salt), forms in large chunky crystals and is mined from underground deposits. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, so it has traditionally been spread on roads to keep them from getting icy, or to help melt away ice that has already formed. It works in temperatures above 12 degrees F and is an inexpensive option for the task. But it can be very harsh on grass and shrubs and can eat away at concrete and steel. There are also concerns about the impact of salty runoff on the environment, so many municipalities have turned to other materials for snow management.

Whereas rock salt melts ice, sand does not. Sand, because it is an abrasive material, is applied to icy roads to provide traction. It can capably create traction on ice at any temperature, whereas rock salt is not effective in extreme cold. But sand is only effective if it is on the surface of the ice. If it gets buried under snow, it needs to be reapplied.

Excessive amounts of sand can collect into drains and drainage areas, so clean-up of sand after storms is important or you can have problems come spring. For homeowners who want to go with sand to help manage ice on their walks and drives, use sandbox sand as opposed to mason’s sand, which is too fine.

Other abrasive materials like kitty litter, saw dust, or wood ashes can be used to create traction on icy walkways if sand is not available.

Of course the best solution to preventing ice buildup is to keep the snow off your drive or walkway so that it won’t compact and freeze. Shovel or snowblow early and often."


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