Natural Alternatives to Harsh De-icers

Michael Jacewicz, Noel Dellanno, and Carter Throne-Kaunelis    Contributing Writers

Let’s be honest, most of us have not only seen some very heavy snowfall in New England, but also heavy-duty methods to get rid of it. In the name of safety and convenience, towns plow, salt, and de-ice the roads to make everyone’s daily routine possible. However, there can be negative implications of de-icer/salt use across the country. Various places have seen elevated chlorine levels in wells, waterways, near busy roadways and especially in populated cold climate areas. The chemicals from de-icers can also leech into groundwater and possibly contaminate private and public water supply sources nearby.

Believe it or not there are safer and greener alternatives out there that are just as effective and safer for public health! Most municipalities use de-icer containing salt. However, there are organic salt-free de-icers sold in stores that serve the same purpose. Unfortunately, it is mostly a budget issue as to why this switch is not made.

Pickle brine juice is an alternative that is growing in popularity across the nation. A simple batch of pickle brine de-icer mix uses 2lbs of salt per 1 gallon of water with pickle brine added. It is a much less concentrated and more watered-down version then plain de-icer. Areas that have tried this alternative have found 29% less chlorine in their waterways. Another alternative is sugar beet juice a seemingly bizarre, yet effective alternative. When sugar beet juice is sprayed on roadways it lowers the melting point of both snow and ice. This alternative can be used in combination with pickle brine for maximum effectiveness. Sugar beet juice is also extremely safe for people and animals. Coffee grinds is another alternative as a de-icers. Coffee grinds and darker substances on snow/ice increase heat absorption and will make them melt quicker. One final natural option is the use of sand as it is known to be an effective alternative for melting ice. It is important to note however that it should be used sparingly. Too much sand applied to roads can clog storm drains and also linger on roadsides into the warmer months.
Be sure to spread awareness about these environmentally friendly de-icing methods for the winter, your public and private water sources systems will thank you in the future.

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