Chemicals are in our snow and ice removing products, too? Alas, conventional brands typically contain an unholy, Mother Nature-torching blend of fertilizers and salts that, while making wintry surfaces far less slick, also end up making the environment and its wild residents pretty sick. Hold on… salt? Simple sodium chloride? What’s so bad about the white stuff? It’s naturally occurring — we do eat it after all, so it must be safe. It’s not like streets and sidewalks can get high blood pressure. For several decades, chloride and acid (acetate)-based salts such as urea sodium chloride or potassium chloride have been the go-to de-icing products that consumers and municipalities instinctually reach for when winter makes its indelible mark on our landscape. They may torch wintry conditions stat by successfully reducing the freezing point of water, but all of that salt results in quite a laundry list of unfortunate consequences. Among the top concerns of the innately corrosive substance, excess road salt yields soil/groundwater contamination, the destruction of roadside vegetation/trees (in the form of that all-too-familiar “burn”), wildlife population declines due to toxicity and compromised food sources and — believe it or not — the potential for increased rates of hypertension among humans due to tainted municipal water supplies. Hmm, now you’re paying attention, aren’t you? If the eco- and/or human impact of this conventional ice-melting resource has finally inspired you to make a safer choice, here’s a slew of unique options that will make your slick surfaces submit with no adverse side effects:


A surprisingly nonstaining byproduct of the sugar extraction process, “spent” beet juice, which resembles diluted maple syrup, is now being used by major cities to address snow and ice accumulation. The rather unconventional liquid is used in a 15% ratio along with 5% calcium chloride and 80% saltwater to successfully de-ice roads by reducing their surface temperature, plus the added bonus is that the veggie power tempers the corrosive effect of calcium chloride on metal and concrete surfaces.


birdseed recycling
Leftover birdseed can be reused as a natural snow melting aid.
Increase traction by scattering a layer of birdseed on the sidewalk and driveway surrounding your property. In addition to your home becoming the favorite destination of local wildlife residents in search of a quick snack, the naturally heat-absorbing seed will amplify the effects of the sunshine, creating little pits that will compromise the integrity of ice within a few hours time. Then, bring out the big guns (a straight-edged shovel) and declare it hammer time. Wield your sword wisely and without breaking much of a sweat, you’ll marvel as multiple cracks reveal authentic sections of pavement underneath!


Composed of finely ground silica and rocks (depending on the region where it is sourced), sand is a nontoxic material with abrasive properties, making it ideal to use on slick road and sidewalk surfaces. While there are conflicting viewpoints regarding whether or not sand actually melts frozen precipitation, everyone seems to be in agreement that it facilitates far better traction without causing harm to landscaping or wildlife.


In terms of combating car windshield ice, vinegar is one of the most favored alternative remedies around. Simply pour equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle and apply it liberally on your car windshield and windows to prevent ice from forming. If you already have an accumulation of ice, use the very same mixture to help accelerate the melting process naturally and effectively.

Good old-fashioned body power

As much as we may hate to admit it, all of the high-tech gadgets and/or chemical preparations in the world often can’t trump the simple power of a human being getting busy with a straight-edged hoe or ice chipper. Think of it this way: You’ll be doing right by Mother Nature, clocking in some serious aerobic exercise and easily earning the privilege of sipping that “reward” cup of cocoa once you finally come in from the cold. Come to think of it, add a few cookies to the mix — you deserve them!

Or, when all else fails, go for green ice-melt products

Green Scapes Ice Melt, SafePaw and IceClear are just a few of the eco-friendly aids that can be purchased at local home improvement centers, but you don’t really want to use them, do you? You’re positively giddy with excitement now that you’ve read all of the super green suggestions above. On the other hand, if you’re entirely allergic to exercise and/or faced with the mother lode of all ice ages, then by all means, do what you must. I’ll just be sprinkling my birdseed and flinging diluted beet juice over here if you need me.