It's getting to be that time of year. The leaves have all changed and fallen in great, crunchy clumps. A dreadful cold has swept the land. Smoke rises from the chimneys of the city. Steam escapes the mouth of a small child as she tries to catch the first maudlin snowflake of the season. Winter is coming.
With winter comes snow and ice, and a great deal of this water-turned-slippery-solid is going to fall on our driveways and walkways. To avoid accidents, many of us are going to look for methods to get rid of the ice. The best way, in my humble opinion, is with some hard labor. Shovel the snow and break up the ice. That's the best way.
Lots of people use rock salt for their driveways. Salt is a really abundant, naturally occurring resource. It shouldn't hurt the environment, right? Wrong! Over half of the salt in the USA is used for de-icing purposes. So much salt is used, in fact, that it can get into our waterways and poison the fish and vegetation. It is also corrosive and can damage cars, leading to reduced sustainability of vehicles.
And don't even think about snow-blowing. Snow-blowers are loud, annoying to neighbors and gas-guzzling. Plus, they don't clear away the ice that's beneath the snow. That's the hard job, anyways.
Lose the Ice on Your Walkway the Green Way
1. If you have a bad back, hire a neighborhood kid to shovel your walk. When I was a kid, I was able to pull in a two-figure income with only a shovel and a rake.
2. Buy a shovel with backache-prevention in mind. Combo the ergonomic shovel with an ice chipper. Ice chippers can break up the ice so much better than the metal edge of a shovel.
3. If you cannot break up the ice, sprinkle sand on the ice for traction. Sand can be bad for storm drains. Use it sparingly.
4. Use a calcium magnesium acetate-based deicer. Don't let the big, scary chemical name fool you. This stuff is as corrosive as tap water, and it is less harmful to the environment than rock salt.
5. Heat your drive way. Some companies can install a radiant heating system into your driveway. This method uses electricity, but if you power the heated driveway in an eco-friendly manner, this can potentially be the greenest and easiest way to remove snow and ice.