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Power To Save: Environmentally Friendly Ice Melt Options

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SCOTT TOWNSHIP -- Rock salt is the way many of us keep our driveways, sidewalks, and patios clear of ice and snow. Unfortunately, the stuff can be harmful to the environment and to pets.

A whole load of calcium flake was loaded up at Justus True Value Home and Garden in Lackawanna County for Al Gibbs. This winter, he's using a lot of it to care for the sidewalks at the Best Western Hotel where he works in Carbondale and says it works really well.

"Calcium, geez, 25, 30 below zero it will still melt and it won't refreeze, that's what's nice. Not like rock salt, rock salt's good to about 5 below zero," Gibbs said.

Experts say calcium flake is better for the environment than rock salt and better for concrete, too.

"Rock salt will actually pit and break down the concrete after a few years. The calcium doesn't affect that," Gibbs said.

At Justus Home and Garden, they have sample containers to help explain the differences among all the ice melt options. it can be complicated.

It is hard, there's a lot of chemistry that goes into it," said Alissa Williams.

The chemistry is the key. There are specifically marketed products safer for pets and environment. In general, products that contain magnesium and calcium do less damage than rock salt to concrete, the environment, and more.

"It can be kind of rough on your plants, on your grass. If you're really concerned about it, then you're better off erring on side of caution, going with a blend or straight calcium or magnesium," Williams suggested.

There is a big difference on price when it comes to ice melt and usually the more expensive it is the safer it is for pets, concrete, and the environment.

Stores like this offer all the options, depending on your priorities.

"We're just trying to keep up with demand right now and we haven't had any problem with that."

They'll give you a little chemistry lesson, too, if you want the power to save.

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