What Are the Health Risks of Using Rock Salt This Winter?

Rock salt has long been used in the winter months to prevent ice formation on outdoor surfaces. Not only is it an abundant and natural material, but it’s also extremely effective.

Salt lowers the freezing temperature of the water, melts ice, and forms a brine when absorbed by the meltwater. It creates a knock-on effect, with brine spreading as snow melts – and as long as more salt is applied regularly, it can keep surfaces ice-free as long as temperatures don’t drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

But while salt is effective and good at melting snow and ice, it does pose some risks to human and animal health. There are other issues you should be aware of, too, relating to corrosion and possible damage to your property.

Let’s explore those.

Risks to Human and Animal Health

Rock Salt Risks

Rock salt isn’t the same as table salt. This is calcium chloride, and it’s not safe for plants, pets, or children. When rock salt comes into contact with the skin it can cause salt burns, which can be hugely irritating and painful.

There is a particular risk of experiencing salt burns is the salt is wet. For this reason, salt isn’t ideal for pet owners. Dogs who walk around in the slush created by rock salt will experience those salt burns on their skin.

Furthermore, anyone who applies rock salt to the ground should be sure to wear a mask, as the dust produced when spreading rock salt causes irritation I the mouth, throat, and stomach. If you breathe in enough of it, it causes severe pain and even vomiting and diarrhea.

What About Sidewalks and Plants?

In the same way that rock salt can be harmful to animals and humans, it poses a threat to plants in your garden and near your sidewalks. The brine created by the salt and meltwater typically spreads into the surrounding soil. When too much rock salt enters the ground, it turns the soil toxic and kills plants.

Your sidewalks are at risk, too. As the rock salt brine seeps into paving stones and concrete, it lowers the pH level and makes the material less durable and stable. Corrosion can also occur, and the water that reaches deep into those cracks will gradually freeze and refreeze. This freeze-thaw effect is damaging not just to concrete but also to asphalt.

The effect is so bad that it makes you wonder why rock salt is used so widely!

Safer Methods Of Ice Removal

Rock Salt for Deicing

At Earth Development, for more than 20 years we have been using a range or de-icing agents designed to protect your pavements and driveways. We also utilize a series of reagents that are safe around children and animals.

Not only that, but we even utilize de-icers that are designed to work in sub-freezing temperatures, meaning we can keep your business operational and your home driveway safe to use during the harshest of winter weather.

It’s also possible to combine de-icing agents with sand to increase grip when necessary. There are many options available.

Find Out How Earth Development Can Help You

For more information about our wide range of de-icing agents, as well as our snow removal services in Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, and beyond, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Get a free quote online or give us a call, and we’ll walk you through every option available. We’ll even arrange for a member of our team to visit your property and discuss your needs.

We look forward to hearing from you!