Rock salt in short supply – time for more eco-friendly alternatives?

Snowstorm in the NortheastWith the Northeast being slammed this winter with some seriously severe snow and ice storms, the availability of rock salt is in short supply. After three winter storms in one week, states like Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey find themselves faced with critical supplies like rock salt running low.

For those who don’t live in the colder climes, rock salt is used to help melt ice and snow packed roads and public areas. Comprised of sodium chloride or potassium chloride which can heat up to 175 degrees when exposed to water, ice, and low temperatures, rock salt has been used for decades to make streets and sidewalks navigable for cars and pedestrians in the aftermath of Nature’s fury.

But these harsh chemicals have serious side effects for animals and the environment.

Rock salt, or sodium chloride, is harmful to pets, kids and the environment

Rock salt, or sodium chloride, is harmful to pets, kids and the environment

For dogs, the ice crystals of rock salt get frozen into their paws and fur. When pets get indoors into higher temperatures, these salts can burn the skin, causing ulcers and redness to tissue which can lead to bacterial infections. Dogs can also develop intestinal problems and inflammation of the stomach (gastritis) from licking the salt-based products off their paws.

Children who come in contact with rock salt while playing can get irritated eyes, while direct contact with the skin can lead to dermatitis, rashes, and blistering. Accidentally ingesting rock salts can cause stomach problems and kidney damage.

Seems like it’s time to invest in greener, healthier alternatives. Here is a sampling of ideas They may not melt the snow but they will give you traction to move around over the ice..

  • Dog prints in showKitty liter – easy to find in ample supply
  • Alfalfa meal – it’s 100 percent natural, a great de-icer and effective in providing traction when used in moderation
  • Sand and/or coffee grinds – provides traction and the darker colors absorb more heat and help to melt snow and ice.

These are just some of the safer earth and people friendly options out there. With rock salt becoming hard to get, perhaps it’s time to focus on solutions that are healthier for people and the planet.

5 Responses

  1. Debra,

    I agree with you on the subject of Salt, I can remember having to rinse my dogs paws with fresh water after our wintertime walks in Maine.

    However, I see another potentially more harmful issue developing. Living in the aired southwest, we are running out of fresh drinking water. One of the solutions talked about is for instance:

    Las Vegas, Nevada pay to build a Sea Water Desalination plant on the coast of California. In exchange, Las Vegas would receive a portion of California’s Colorado River Water allocation in proportion to the amount of water desalinated.

    That is all well and fine except that the process of desalination creates huge amounts of brine that would hurt the ecosystem if put directly back into the ocean and is very expensive to operate.

    My thought is to let the brine dry, collect the salt and sell it to the snow country states and cities to offset some of the desalination costs. The salt can also be sold to energy companies for use as a heat storage medium for steam generation.

    Just a thought…although I would love the smell of coffee in the melting snow.

  2. Solar Roadway has a solution. Create a roadway with solar panels that provide power and heaters to melt the snow. They even have waste water management to handle the runoff. Check their website at Solar Roadway.

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