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Alternatives to salt - de-ice the driveway

 
Posts: 18
Location: Western Mountains Maine Zone 5a - 4b
forest garden chicken bee
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We have been using that expensive pet safe salt free Saf-T-Pet ice melt stuff, as well as ashes from the wood stove and pellet stove to try keeping our steep driveway fairly safe. Unfortunately all of the dirt I meant to store for the driveway is under a foot of snow and ice, up a slippery hill, you get the idea. With the ice storm that just rolled through, we're looking for some more alternatives to salt. . So, do I (cringe) buy some dirt, spend a fortune on Saf-T-Pet, or does anyone have some further ideas? Please note that we did scrape the ice up some yesterday but we are both disabled making it very difficult.

Warmly,
Aimee
 
pollinator
Posts: 2409
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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forest garden solar
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How about a snow blower, follower by a shovel then pet safe salt or black tarp for solar heating
 
master pollinator
Posts: 8721
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Gravel and sand give nice grip. Mix it with 5% biochar and the blackness will promote melting. A nice big box of this placed at the top of the slope can be easily broadcast. Use lots of it. It can be gathered up in spring for future use.
 
Posts: 3375
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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My suggestion (for next year anyway) is to order a truckload of sand and put a tarp over it (so it doesn't freeze into a giant block of ice itself). Use it on the driveway and steps and then mix any extra into the garden or compost pile in the spring, or save it for the next year.

Sand is fairly cheap most places. If not, crusher fines should be.

Potassium chloride softener salt is not cheap, but may be cheaper than saf t melt. Or granulated lawn fertilizer.



 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
Posts: 8721
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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An added benefit of crusher fines is that they can contain a wide array of plant nutrients. They crush glacial till here, so the fines come from many different parent rocks. Salt poisons the roadside. Stone dust fertilizes the farm.
 
Aimee Grimmel
Posts: 18
Location: Western Mountains Maine Zone 5a - 4b
forest garden chicken bee
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Thanks to everyone for all the ideas! I was able to find the crusher fines locally for the same price as plain ole dirt. We've been using that extensively, and the ducks are loving it as well. They appreciate being allowed free reign of the place. It's nice to feel like I am helping the surrounding area, rather than harming it, every time it gets slippery. Especially considering that most of the runoff from our street ends up in a brook! Next year I will definitely get our sand pile moved closer and covered.
 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Do you have a surplus of beets?

http://grist.org/list/canadian-town-is-using-beet-juice-to-de-ice-the-roads/

I have also read that some places are experimenting with diced up sugar beets.

 
Posts: 65
Location: NW lower Michigan
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Sand and wood ash is what we use. Can you stand to walk on top of the ice? You can make it grip, but melting will take salt.
So far my dog's paws don't mind ash. I worry a lot when she walks on the salts.
I agree that getting it shoveled ahead of time is the best option for "melting".

And yeah, the leftover biochar from my overnight burns definitely helps when the sun comes out.
 
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