Monday, February 2, 2009

Punxsutawney Phil says... More Ice?

Not that I think anyone is surprised, but Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter. Happy Groundhog Day?

As a gardener, I appreciate the snow cover acting as a blanket for many of my plants, especially some of those funky new perennials in my trial garden. But the ice is a nightmare this year. From the ice dams on the roof to the low point where my driveway meets the street, the battle against ice has raged for several weeks now and I have clearly been losing.

So this brings me to Eco-friendly/Green ice melt options. Do they exist? Do they work? Are they truly eco-friendly? I did a little on-line reading over the weekend, and gleaned a bit of information if not knowledge.
I found 3 products which seem to be the most promising (I am not endorsing anything here, just blogging!) but I would love to hear back from others on this as well.

1) Safe Paw by Gaia Enterprises – This seems to be the easiest to find, sold in some grocery and pet stores. There is no salt used, although I am still unclear as to the active ingredients (crystalline amide core infused with special glycols is the most detail I could get). And it claims to work in temps a couple degrees below 0.
2) Environmelt by Kissner – The active ingredient on this product is the chemical compound CMA (calcium magnesium acetate), which is purported to be non-corrosive, safe to use and biodegradable, but it also seems to be the most expensive.
3) IceClear – A liquid preventative, so it is best applied before the storm, with any spray equipment (Hort oil or fertilizer pumps seems to fit the bill). It’s compound is “potassium carboxaylates, carbo-hydrates and a corrosive inhibitor” effective to -50’F.

As always buyer beware, but seems to me that steering away from salt or salt-based products is the important first step. The next step is determining your need for your situation and then using only what you need. Remember too much fertilizer can burn or even kill plants, and fertilizer is a common substitute for salt in ice melt. And after all is said and done, I am still not sure of the cumulative effects of any of these products have on ground water or fish populations. But I’d love to hear!