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Organic ice melt...is there such a thing?

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by mister_snowplow, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. mister_snowplow

    mister_snowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    One of my clients is a small business that runs out of an old farmhouse. They want me to put down something on the walkways to melt ice, but they are very particular. They don't want sand because they don't want it tracked inside. They don't want salt because they sometimes bring their dogs to work. Is there an organic ice melt that I could use that wouldn't hurt animals and wouldn't be as messy as sand? If so, where can I get a barrell of it? Thanks for the help.

  2. sir spaniourd

    sir spaniourd Senior Member
    Messages: 286

    Try magic salt. They sell it at North East Nurseries.
  3. festerw

    festerw Senior Member
    Messages: 986

  4. crazymike

    crazymike Senior Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 639

    I'm not sure how salt is harmful do the dogs. We use salts and it hasn't killed any of our dogs, horses and unfortunately not any cats.

    It can however cause dryness in dogs paws, etc... but aslong as it's not excessive playing in the salt, they will survive.
  5. MikePH

    MikePH Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Interstate Products

    has a liquid product made of CMA. It was developed for military applications. I have not used it. I read that many of the state DOT's are beginning to use a combination of liquid CMA with a Mag/Pot Chloride product on bridges and overpasses.:drinkup:
    I am trying Ice Block, a liquid product by Lesco made of Magnesium Chloride 84% and a Corn based starch corrosion inhibitor 18% (I don't know who does their math but I get 102% with their numbers) Anyway, Mag.Chlor. does still weaken soil structure but apparently used in recommended amounts has minimal negative effect on plants. Cost of Ice Block is not bad. 5 gallons covers 5,000 sf for a cost of $31.00
    You can read a short fundamental article about environmental impacts of the most common deicers including CMA at http://www.agnr.umd.edu/CES/Pubs/PDF/FS707.pdf
  6. mister_snowplow

    mister_snowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    I tried telling her that the salt shouldn't hurt the dogs. Maybe I can convince her to use salt. If not I'll look into some of the products people listed in their posts. Thanks for help guys.
  7. mister_snowplow

    mister_snowplow Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    Thanks for the response. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with North East Nurseries. Where are they located, do they have a website? Thanks.
  8. crazymike

    crazymike Senior Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 639

    It shouldn't really matter to you, because they are paying, not you. However, to save the customer some money, salt won't kill their dogs. They put it on the road, sidewalks, etc...

    But if they wan't something non toxic, they will have to pay a bit more.
  9. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Salt is VERY irritating to the paws of pets. They will get it imbedded in their feet and between their toes. Then, as the snow in/on their feet melts, the salt will sting. This is what is happening when you see a dog biting at their paws after they've been outside. If you want to see how it works, put your hands in the snow then press them down on a pile of salt. Now work around your truck till the salt is well worked into the skin (duplicates walking with salt on paws). Now go inside and let the snow melt but don't wash the salt off (duplicates snow melting between paws).

    If you want to lose a customer real quick, try to convince her to use salt.

    Magic Salt would be good if you are a good salesman. Learn about the features of it yourself, first, then discuss it with her. Straight Maigic -0 would be even better, but you'd need a specific dedicated sprayer.
  10. golden arches

    golden arches Senior Member
    Messages: 193

  11. sir spaniourd

    sir spaniourd Senior Member
    Messages: 286

  12. dumper

    dumper Junior Member
    Messages: 28


    Knew a guy selling a product called urea, or something like that. Supposed to be an all natural ice melter. Google might turn up something.
  13. iowaegian

    iowaegian Junior Member
    from 1
    Messages: 26

    urea is actually sold as a fertilizer. It does melt ice but as with using too much of any fertilizer, it can burn plants. Causes rust even worse than road salt if that's possible.

    PS I believe it is also used as a trace mineral supplement for cattle feed so unless an animal would eat an entire bag, it should be safe for cats and dogs. Check out a local ag coop or feed store. They could tell you more.
  14. golden arches

    golden arches Senior Member
    Messages: 193

    Iowaegian is absolutely correct. We get it in the dead of winter when everyone else runs out of salt - as a last resort. It will burn the plants and rust the daylights out of anything steel or iron it comes in contact with.

    But, it does work well on melting ice.
  15. sunriseturf

    sunriseturf Member
    Messages: 54

    You might want to try pelletized lime. Make sure it is dark in color. The lime will absorb heat from the sun and melt ice and snow. It's not as effective as salt or even fertil;izer but it is the most organic way to go and it'll give a little traction. Golf courses use it on their greens when they ice over. Good luck with it.
  16. Big Dog D

    Big Dog D PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,134

    The lime itself can actually get kind of greasy though and may contribute to the slippery problem though.

    What is not organic about salt? It isn't chemically altered or enhanced or anything. It's as natural as the soil that any organic food is grown in ??
  17. crazymike

    crazymike Senior Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 639

    As I said, it's irritating, but it's not the end of the world. They probably walk their dogs to the car down the sidewalk at home (on the salt). Or to get the mail, or accross the road, etc... They are not turning their dogs out to play on a large cement salted pad.
  18. SLSNursery

    SLSNursery PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 140

    Try this

    Waltham is pretty upscale. See if you can get them to install radiant heat under the sidewalk. Then, they might not need ice melt at all. We have several customers with these types of systems, including one job at a church where it is under the parking lot.

    BTW, I'm with Big Dog - Salt is an element, what is more organic than that?

    How about cleaning the sidewalk off after the snow melts so the dogs don't get it in their paws. Or, just get a tougher dog! Just kidding -

    The attachment is a picture of my boxer ELI - the big one training Buster (originally from Waltham) how to get the sand ready. What I mean by ready, is for spreading through the hopper with a couple of hidden, organic gems!!!! If you know what I mean. Nothing like a couple of steamers to melt some ice.

    Also - the magic or other inhibitors supposedly work to help mitigate the caustic effects of rock salt, but we have found that there is really no magic bullet at all, unfortunately.

  19. beeker

    beeker Junior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 1

    organic ice melt

    Rock salt is actually organic however it can be irritating to animals feet. If you want to go "truely organic" try alfalfa meal, you can usually get this at the local feed store, it is pretty cheap ~$10/50#bag. The high nitrogen content of alfalfa is pretty effective at melting ice, but is not so concentrated that will burn lawns. It can get a little pasty if you spread it too thick, and will not be quite as effective as typical ice melts...I guess there is always a trade off.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2005
  20. dssxxxx

    dssxxxx Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 63

    The only melting you will get is from the sun (tan color of the limestone).

    Pelletized limestone is only pulverized calcium carbonate and a binder to hold it together. It will "NOT" melt anything.