Ice melt could be hard to find, try veggies

FAIRFAX COUNTY – Rock salt used to melt ice can be harmful to pavement, concrete, brick pavers, plants and pets.

“The Magnesium Chloride products are probably safest and work the best,” according to Larry Gray, the owner of Village Hardware on Fort Hunt Road outside of Alexandria.

“As long as it’s not real new concrete that’s just been done in the last three or four months, anything besides that and you’re going to be safe with the magnesium blend,” Gray says referring to salts’ potential to degrade concrete and related materials.

If there are a number of snow events this winter, Gray predicts ice melt products of all kinds will be in short supply to retailers.

“Ice melt is very very hard to come by,” Gray says because of especially high demand last winter.

“We bought a trailer load in October to have it on hand because they told us by December, there’d be no product. The municipalities have eaten it all up.”

Whether homeowners want to melt ice or simply spread something on it to gain traction, there are green alternatives to processed chemicals.

Sugar beet juice lowers the melting point of ice and snow and is among products recommended by Greenmoxie.com.

Road crews in D.C. are among those stocking beet juice as part of snow removal arsenals. Maryland has given beet juice a try in past winters but has opted to stick with tried and true products like salt and magnesium chloride.

The website Fleetowner.com reports that the Tennessee Department of Transportation has even experimented with using environmentally friendly snow melt made from potato juice.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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