Manufacturing In A Safer Environment

Manufacturing In A Safer Environment

Environmentally Damaging Vs. Environmentally Friendly Deicing Products For Commercial Properties

by Enrique Griffin

Commercial property owners are all too familiar with how ice on driveways, parking lots, and sidewalks can be hazardous for their customers and employees.  Being aware of the potential hazards associated with icy parking lots and walkways is especially important for commercial property owners because an accident may result in a costly lawsuit. Preventing ice and snow from building up is important for both safety and legal reasons, but deicing should also be done in an environmentally friendly way.  So, what's the difference between environmentally damaging and environmentally friendly deicing products?

Why Is It Necessary to Be Environmentally Conscious When Deicing?

Preventing and removing the buildup of ice and snow in an environmentally responsible way is essential because the chemical products used to melt ice and snow will inevitably return to the groundwater and the soil. Learning the difference between which products are environmentally friendly and which ones are not will be beneficial for you, your business, and the environment.

How Do Chemical Deicers Work?

Chemical deicers work by forming liquid brine that melts the ice and snow, making it easier to remove it by plowing or shoveling. Basically, the brine breaks down the bond between a cold surface and the ice by seeping down into the pavement and spreading outward. If a deicer is used before icy conditions hit, it will help to prevent ice from forming on surfaces.

Non-Environmentally Friendly Deicers

The majority of deicing agents are basically different forms of treated salt. So, what is so harmful about salt? Once the treated salt enters streams, ponds, lakes, aquifers, or the groundwater, the chemical composition changes and may poison fish and/or kill certain types of vegetation. These chemical agents can also be extremely dangerous to pets if their paws come in contact with it and they lick it off of their paws. The most common rock-salt–based deicing agents that are often used in both residential and commercial properties include:

  1. Calcium chloride – this is one of the most commonly used deicing agents in extremely cold climates because it works in lower temperatures. This type of salt deicer dissolves quicker and starts the melting process faster than other salt-based deicers because it can attract and retain moisture as well as give off heat as it melts.
  2. Sodium chloride – unlike calcium chloride, sodium chloride draws its heat from the environment instead of giving it off, so it loses a lot of its anti-ice effectiveness in lower temperatures.
  3. Potassium Chloride – this type of deicer is a naturally occurring material, so in theory it is less harmful to the environment, but there is a high risk of damage to foliage and inhibited root growth if it comes in contact with plants because it has an extremely high salt content.

Environmentally Friendly Deicers

It is important to remember that the only deicing agent that is 100% safe for the environment is a shovel. However, there are some deicers that are much less damaging to the environment than rock salt, including:

  1. Calcium magnesium acetate – this deicing agent is an organic compound of acetic acid and dolomitic limestone. It causes very little damage to vegetation and concrete, but it works best in warmer climates.
  2. Urea – also known as carbamide, which is naturally found in mammal urine, but it can be synthesized by combining carbon dioxide and ammonia. This product is typically used as a fertilizer, but it can also be used as a deicing agent, because it is non-corrosive and the potential burn is lower than potassium chloride.
  3. Kitty litter – although kitty litter isn't an actual deicer, it will help to improve the traction on icy walkways, driveways, and parking lots. However, it is important to only use kitty litter that is biodegradable.

The safety of your customers and employees is essential. Although it may not be possible to only rely on environmentally safe deicers, reducing the use and limiting use of unsafe deicers to areas that are not going to produce a high risk of contamination to the groundwater is recommended.

To learn more about your options for deicing, contact a company like GMCO Corporation.


About Me

Manufacturing In A Safer Environment

Do you remember the last time your factory workers had an accident? Problems in the manufacturing workplace are exceptionally common, especially since a lot of machinery is heavy and powerful. Fortunately, you don't have to let your workers become victims of industrial incidents. With a focus on safety and an understanding of the inherent risks, you can protect your company and your bottom line. I wanted to make this blog to help business owners with manufacturing plants to hone their understanding of the inherent dangers of their field. Check out this helpful information to avoid problems that could sideline your best workers.