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Fix-It Chick: Purchasing the right ice melt to battle snowy conditions

With so many products available, choosing the right ice melt can be a slippery slope. If you are concerned about the environment, pets, children or concrete, the safest thing to do is to avoid ice melt products altogether. Otherwise, follow these steps to help choose the right product for you.

Step 1: When used properly, a blended ice melt product can be the safest and most effective way to melt ice. Choose a product made with calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium chlorides. Follow the package directions and don’t apply additional product unless the first application has completely dissolved. Remove the slush and undissolved product as soon as the ice is melted and precipitation has stopped. Do not use chloride products on new concrete and keep pets and children away from undissolved product.

Step 2: Reduce or eliminate the need for granular ice melt and make shoveling easier by pretreating solid surfaces with a product like Liquid Snow Shovel. This type of calcium chloride based liquid suspension attracts moisture to melt snow and keep ice from forming, even in sub-zero temperatures. The product attaches to the surface on which it is applied, eliminating the chance of tracking it indoors. Liquid Snow Shovel remains active for up to 14 days without precipitation or up to 7 days when moisture is present.

Step 3: Products labeled “Pet Safe” or “Environmentally Friendly” may or may not work. Like blended products, once dissolved, many are relatively safe for pets and children, but unless the label has no warnings about skin contact or ingestion, the product should be used with as much caution as chloride-based blended products. Overapplication of “Pet Safe” products that do not effectively melt ice actually makes them more damaging than properly used chloride-based products.

Step 4: Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) ice melt is noncorrosive and very environmentally friendly, but it only works as a pretreatment and it does not work when temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5: Avoid chemicals all together by using a propane-powered torch to melt snow and ice on walk ways and steps. Using a flamethrower can be a lot of fun, but it will take a long time to eliminate accumulated snow and ice. Flamethrowers work best to simply loosen compacted patches of snow and ice. Follow the manufacturer instructions completely when using any flame-producing devic

— Have a home improvement question for Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at hardware@sunflower.com.

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