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Most environmentally friendly de-icer: Not rock salt

Posted by: Adam Aston on January 19, 2009

With New York City slushing through its third snowy weekend of the new year, a couple of folks have asked me about greener alternatives to conventional salt to de-ice sidewalks. The reason to avoid traditional salt, if possible, is that Sodium Chloride (NaCl, traditional rock salt) contains cyanide and choride. Both poison soil and water as the snow melts. Remember, everything you put on the sidewalk eventually ends up in the gutter and in time local waterways.

Better options are:

* Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) which is far less toxic than salt, and works down to temperatures of 22°F, or

* Calcium Chloride (CaCl) which is more potent than salt, so can be used in smaller amounts, and works down to -25°F. Though it has no cyanide, there is still some chloride impact.

Read more here:

Reader Comments


January 29, 2009 9:16 AM

So what happens when we're one big ice ball...and in order to SAVE us we'll need to do something WARM up the planet?
Record Lows and Snows this year...and Nobama is investing in Global Warming.
You guys are all nutjobs.

Not Craig

January 31, 2009 12:20 PM

Yes another argument for comment moderation.


February 12, 2009 4:10 PM

Just so everyone knows, the cyanide found in rock salt is actually sodium ferrocyanide, which have a low order of toxicity and are not decomposed to cyanide in the body, according to the Hazardous Substances Data Bank of the National Library of Medicine. In other words, the cyanide in rock salt won't kill you.

Magic Salt

March 2, 2009 1:49 PM

Has anyone tried Magic Salt? It's liquid made from agricultural waste product and biodegradable. You apply this Magic Liquid onto rock salt thereby converting it into Magic Salt. It is twice as effective as rock salt and works to -35F. The combination of Magic Liquid with Rock Salt combined with reduced application rate (250lbs/acre on asphalt), Magic Salt is 90% less corrosive than straight Rock Salt and 95% less corrosive than Calcium Chloride. Thats as green as you are going to get and still be effective. Also, the Magic Liquid is a certified part of the EPA's DFE program. No other deicer can make that claim. It works!

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BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.

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