The sale of “Green” ice melt blends has been growing each winter, and with these sales come different definitions of “Green” ice melters. In this article, the top 10 facts about “Green” ice melt blends are listed by a small business that sells ice melt over the Internet.
1. Currently, there are no officially certified “Green” (Green Certified Products, Ecologo, Greenseal, etc.) ice melt blends. There may never be such a certification for ice melt blends.
2. The traditional ice melt blends contain salts (chlorides) and/or fertilizers. These salts/fertilizers accumulate in the environment which can be damaging to plant and animal life, including fish. Although some are labeled as non-toxic, these salts/fertilizers can still be dangerous if ingested by pets or humans.
3. The most environmentally responsible way to use ice melters is not to use too much. The person spreading the product should use no more than absolutely needed to make the pavement safe. Color-coded blends of ice melt often advertize that the color can help reduce over usage because the product is more visible.
4. Labeling on ice melt blends can be considerably confusing to the buyer. All labels contain many of the following descriptions:
o Safe (or safer) for vegetation, animals and concrete — This is often followed by “when properly used.”
o Non-corrosive (or contains anti-corrosion agents) — This is often explained as reducing scaling of concrete and corrosion of metals surfaces.
o Non-toxic or non-hazardous — This is often followed by “when properly used.”
o Biodegradable — This means that it decomposes to carbon dioxide and water or some other natural compound.
o Made from all natural compounds or 100% natural ingredients — Caution; salt can be advertized as a natural compound in many of these products.
o Environmentally friendly — This term can be used loosely. It should mean that the product contains a very low Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) rate and contains no phosphates or urea. Products with a high BOD, phosphates or urea tend to promote excess nutrients which generate excess plant growth reducing the dissolved oxygen of our natural waterways leading to fish kill.
o “Green” — This term generally implies one or more of the above descriptions.
5. Although confusing to the buyer, the labeling is accurate. Read the ingredients carefully. Some products that insinuate they are safe for the environment may only have small traces of environmentally friendly melting agents mixed with mostly the traditional salts/fertilizers.
6. CMA (calcium magnesium acetate) is often a key ingredient added to many ice melt products advertized as being “Green”. CMA is a relatively expensive additive but does reduce the corrosion. In its pure form it is no more corrosive than water. Most airports use CMA to clean runways and aircraft. CMA is biodegradable.
7. If you find a “Green” advertized product, expect to pay more because the ingredients are more expensive.
8. Buyers are making more informed decisions about ice melt purchases, and “Green” advertized products are becoming more abundant. However, often the final purchase decision is made based on the buyer’s budget and not on whether it is good for the environment.
9. If not a certifiable “Green” product then the ice melt product is “Greener”. Most sellers carry at least one or more products advertized with “Green” in the name. This product is most likely “Greener” than other products sold by the seller.
10. Although not advertized as an ice melter, cat litter can be used to melt ice and snow. However, since the primary reason to use ice melt is safety, you must balance the need for safety with your desire to protect the environment. Would you drive to work in a winter storm if you knew the highway crews were using cat litter?