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Winter Is Coming - Snow & Ice Removal
Nov 18, 2021

Winter Is Coming - Snow & Ice Removal

As we get into the winter months, snow and ice removal tools can make our lives easier. Which methods are right for your home? Read on for some tips on proper snow removal and how to keep your pets safe from ice-melt chemicals while playing outdoors.

Proper Ice-Melt Placement

Anti-Icing – To prevent snow from bonding to the walkway’s surface, apply ice-melt before precipitation begins. Treating surfaces ahead of time will simplify the process and can help you use less product in the long run. Anti-icing is especially important before sleet and freezing rain to prevent ice build-up.
De-Icing – Apply ice-melt to preexisting ice and snow. While too little will be ineffective, too much can corrode walkways and roads, and harm vegetation. Avoiding piling product and spread the granules evenly. A general rule of thumb is to use 2-4 oz of product per square yard.

Pet & Human Safety

Clearing snow and ice ensures that sidewalks and roads remain safe during the cold winter months. However, these chemicals can be harmful to hands and eyes, as well as the environment. It is important to use ice-melt safely by wearing protective eyewear and gloves and check that you are using the proper product for the intended surface. Pet owners should be aware that not all forms of ice melt are safe for furry friends. Generally, a small amount of ingestion won’t cause serious problems, but it’s important to check that you’re using the safest ice melt possible! Ice-melt can cause topical irritation to the paws, and chemical toxicity when ingested.

Sodium Chloride – One of the cheapest and easy to find options on the market, regular rock salt products tend to be some of the least pet-safe ice melts available. Prolonged exposure can lead to skin irritation, while ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal irritation. In rare and worst case scenarios, ingestion of larger quantities can lead to elevated blood sodium levels, known as hypernatremia. Hypernatremia has been known to lead to poor GI health and neurological dysfunction. Some generalized toxicity signs to look out for are lethargy, weakness, behavioral changes, muscle twitches, and seizures. While rock salt is generally not the best option for pet owners, there are products formulated with less sodium chloride to help prevent irritation and sickness. The Near Zero Melt Down Pet Safe Ice Melt contains less sodium chloride, is 30% less corrosive to hard surfaces, and is safer for humans and pets than regular rock salt. It is still recommended to clean your pet's paws when exposed to any quantity of rock salt.

Ethylene Glycol  Another common type of melt is made with ethylene glycol, a compound containing the same active ingredient as anti-freeze. Ethylene glycol-based ice melts may be easier on your pet’s paws but are far more dangerous when ingested, and equally toxic for humans. It is recommended that households with pets and children avoid this one or use with extreme caution!

Safer Options – Urea-based ice melts and calcium magnesium acetate may not be as effective in extreme temperatures and thick ice as other options on the market, but are one of the safest for pets. It is important to note though that urea can cause damage to cat’s red blood cells in the unlikely event it is ingested in high doses, and can be harmful to vegetation. In addition, it is best to avoid urea-based melts for farm use as it can cause ammonia toxicosis in ruminant animals such as cows and goats, interfering with the fermentation process in the animal’s digestive tracts.

It’s best not to assume that your neighbors and surrounding businesses are using pet-safe products. To prevent chemical burns on dog paws, it is recommended to thoroughly wash and wipe off your dog’s feet after walks. Dog booties and paw wax can also help prevent contact with chemicals on the ground. Pay attention to behaviors such as licking of the feet and walking gingerly as they can be signs that your pet's paws are irritated.  

Getting Out the Big Guns with a Snow Blower

If ice-melt and a shovel just isn't cutting it, it may be time to invest in a snow blower! When picking out a snow blower, you’ll want to consider factors such as location, price, weather, and size to find the right fit for you.

Single Stage – A single stage snow blower will generally be your cheapest, most compact, and basic option. Technically known as a snow thrower, the rotating augers expel snow through a chute and away from the machine. This type of snow blower can handle up to around 8” of snow. Because the auger makes direct contact with the ground, it does a good job of clearing paved areas without leaving a layer of snow behind. For this same reason, single stage snow blowers should not be used on gravel and loose debris, as it will get caught up in the auger. In addition, single stage snow blowers are unable to handle inclines. It’s best to use them on flat driveways and hardscapes. Check out our single stage snow blower options now!

Two Stage – The two stage snow blower has an impeller that forces snow up and out of the auger, into the chute, and away from the machine. The forced air allows the machine to discharge larger amounts of snow farther away. This type fairs better with deeper and more compact ice and snow and can be used on an incline. Because the auger does not make direct contact with the ground, it will leave a thin layer of snow behind, and can be used on gravel and loose debris. The larger and heavier two stage snow blower has its drawbacks though, being more difficult to maneuver and costlier than most single stage machines.

Interested in finding the right snow blower for you? Check out our many snow removal options now!