During the winter months in Colorado, one of the most crucial tasks for an HOA’s property management team is to ensure community safety by removing snow and ice from common areas such as parking lots, alleys, stairs, and/or walking paths.
Snow fall in Colorado
Many snow removal crews utilize the help of snow melt and de-icing agents during a snow storm. Simultaneously, homeowners may be responsible for clearing portions of their walkways, porches, patios, decks, and driveways. Anyone that has shovelled snow knows that these products can be essential to removing snow and ice in a timely manner. However, the convenience does not always come without environmental consequences. The active ingredients in many common ice melt products can cause damage to local watersheds, vegetation, soil, animals (including pets), concrete, and other landscaping features.
Denver receives an average of 60 inches of annual snowfall – spread across 4 or 5 snowy days during each Winter month. Meaning an ice melt product might be applied to your property up to 20 times or more each season!
Source: Best Places
Here are some helpful tips to be sure you and your HOA are using a safe and effective ice melt product:
1. Read the ingredients list.
With so many environmentally-oriented products to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. We recommend looking past all the marketing gimmicks and going straight to the list of active ingredients.
2. Common deicing products are primarily composed of various forms of salt, all of which lower the freezing point of water.
Sodium Chloride is a common salt product and arguably the most environmentally degrading and most harmful to people and pets. If this product is being used in your community, it should be done sparingly, and in areas free from walking dogs and playing children. Sodium Chloride products should also be properly disposed, and not left to wash into the landscape or drainage system.
3. Magnesium Chloride is generally considered a more environmentally friendly option.
This is because of its minimal impact on soils, vegetation, and animals. Like it’s Sodium counterpart however, Magnesium Chloride can still become structurally corrosive to assets like concrete, asphalt, and metal – so it should also be used with caution.
4. Another common deicing compound is Calcium Magnesium Acetate.
This is perhaps the most eco-friendly of all the traditional ice melt products. Because it doesn’t contain a chloride compound, it does not have any corrosive consequences, nor is it harmful to people or pets. The downside is that this product is more costly and is believed to not perform as well as the chloride-based melts. This could, however, be a good option for dog-friendly HOA properties that aren’t terribly icy.
5. Consider alternative options on the market, like beet juice or pickle brine ice melts.
These alternative methods are probably not sophisticated enough for use on an entire HOA property, but could be something to experiment with in your backyard.
6. Refer to the EPA’s Safer Choice Standard Database.
The EPA’s Safer Choice Standard is a program designed to help consumers choose an environmentally friendly product. The certified companies have invested in research and reformulation to ensure their products meet EPA standards of environmental safety. Currently there are about 25 certified ice melt products. Just click the link above and search for “deicer” to choose a product that will work for you.