ugh this ice!!!! what to use??

kpaquetteFebruary 2, 2011

I was complaining about the snow...I should have kept my mouth shut! This ice is WAY worse! Hope everyone here is safe.

So I was out of town and when I came home, I was greeted with a couple inches of snow encased in ice. I tried shoveling it.

My patio, which you must traverse to get to my front door, is blue stone. After attempting to shovel the ice (while it was raining) I was left with slush, which was then covered with more freezing rain, and is now a sheet of ice. GREAT!

I'd like to make getting to my front door safe for me (I fell today and am feeling it hours later) and my poor mail man, but I'm afraid of using ice melt on my blue stone because I've heard it can cause pitting and flaking.

Does anyone have experience with a type of ice melt that doesn't harm natural stone? (especially if you've used something over several winters.) Is there such a thing? Or should I just run down to first beach and grab some sand? I don't really want to do that because I don't want sand in my garden come spring. ;-)

Any advice would be appreciated!


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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

If you can be patient and stay inside for a couple of days (hah!), it will be above freezing on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I've used sand to make the patio nonskid, but it sure gets tracked in. Let me know if you find a better substance.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 8:27PM
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ha! It looks like more freezing rain is coming on Saturday though??? At any rate, if there is a product that isn't harmful, it would be good to have in general.

I googled and found "Safe Paw" which doesn't contain salt and supposedly doesn't harm animals, plants, or stone. Does anyone have experience with it??

Here is a link that might be useful: Safe Paw

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 8:44PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I use potassium chloride on our front stoop. A combination of that and an ice scraper does a good job of breaking up the ice.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 9:43PM
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scpearson(5 NE CT)

The Safe Paws works and so does cat litter, for giving you a little traction. Everything you use will track in the house, though.
Last week I used an efficient combination of hammer and ice chopper at my parents' home. While whacking at the front steps, got chewed out by the mailman for the condition of the steps.
I bought them ice melt and pleaded with my parents to use it so they won't fall on their stone steps. The stone has been there for over 50 years so I don't think anything will actually hurt it. Rather the steps suffer than them, if it has to be a choice. When the ice is inches thick, though, I think you need something very powerful.
Someone mentioned using one of those weed torches on a similar snow removal posting.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 11:48PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Salt won't hurt stone, but it's deadly for concrete, so I avoid the use anywhere near the house's foundation. I use sand pretty much exclusively in winter.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 9:48AM
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My long experienced mason told me that any of these products but especially those with salt will indeed damage stone over time. That includes granite and of course bluestone.

But we all have to weigh safety against such damage. I "try" to be religious about shoveling the steps and walk and then use the bare minimum of product.

My best solution has been to snowblow a new path across the lawn. We use that most of the winter and it has never harmed the lawn. Just don't snowblow down to bare grass--leave a bit of a snow cover for protection.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 10:02AM
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SCPearson wrote:
"Last week I used an efficient combination of hammer and ice chopper at my parents' home. While whacking at the front steps, got chewed out by the mailman for the condition of the steps. "

Are you serious? You're out there trying to make the stairs safe and he chews you out???

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 12:10PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I use calcium chloride (e.g. Prestone Heat) because it is far less corrosive and damaging to surfaces, plants, etc. than sodium or potassium chloride. BTW, there is nothing magical about any salt's ability to melt ice and snow. Any substance that can dissolve in water will lower the resulting solution's freezing point (and raise it's boiling point). Sugar for instance would work. Salts such as sodium chloride are extremely cheap so that's why they are used. Sand doesn't do anything to directly melt the ice and snow. It can provide more traction and it may absorb heat from the sun which would melt the ice and snow to some extent but it is not a replacement for something that actually dissolves in water.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 12:50PM
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spedigrees z4VT

The purpose of sand isn't to melt the snow or ice, but only to provide traction and frevent slipping. Frequent sweeping/shoveling and subsequent sanding of steps is my preferred method of winter safety. If you're lucky and conditions are right the sand freezes onto the steps where it provides traction but doesn't find its way indoors on the soles of boots. Subsequent snow can be swept off and the sand is still underneath. Of course a thaw eventually ruins this system, but sometimes the sand lasts a week or more.

Yes, sugar melts ice as well as salt, but can you imagine the sticky mess it would make when tracked indoors!?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 1:02PM
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Thank you for all your input, everyone! This Florida girl is clueless. ;) I learned about damaging stone the hard way at my last house....but at least there, the area salted wasn't a necessity like it is now.

Well today I waited until the sun was out and then chipped away what I could - it's at least much better. The path is mostly clear for the mailman. I did go buy some Safe Paws...but didn't put it down - I figure I'll save the chemicals as a last resort. I'll also take a ride down to the beach - I'll keep a large bucket of sand on hand. :-)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 8:14PM
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Wouldn't beach sand have a lot of regular old salt in it? The hardware store sells "traction sand", though it's awfully fine grained.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 4:40PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Ocean beach sand contains salt, but the highway sand that I use also contains some salt, a small amount. It has to or else the grains would freeze together into a solid mass, or so I'm told. I'm not sure what the percentage of salt is in ocean beach sand as compared with highway sand.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 5:31PM
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