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How To Prepare for Winter Weather, Why Sand is Better Than Salt for Ice Control

When snow, ice, and freezing temperatures keep you indoors for days on end, the novelty of winter wears off quickly. It is that time of the year when you should keep yourself warm, that time of the year when it is critical to keep roads and sidewalks safe.

You are probably aware that sand is a better alternative than salt to control ice during snow, but why is that? After all, both substances can be used to melt ice and prevent dangerous falls on slippery surfaces. Read on to find out why sand is better than salt for ice control. 

Why is Sand Better than Salt for Ice Control?

Salt is known for its efficacy in melting ice, but it can do the trick only in certain conditions. If the temperature of the ice is lower than 5°C (41°F), it can be hard to find the correct application rate, to find the desired result. You’ll get a mess of runoff water if it’s too warm. If it’s too cold, the melting process won’t work at all. When temperatures drop below -10°C, it will take a lot more salt to melt ice. It can take up to 50% more salt in extreme temperatures than in moderate weather. Sand, on the other hand, works well in controlling ice under any condition. It can be applied more quickly than salt and is less likely to cause damage to the environment.

Salt and its Perils on the Environment & People 

Sand is not a chemical, which renders it safe for both the health of the population and the environment they inhabit. Road salt, on the other hand, can be harmful due to its potency to pollute nearby waterways. Some types of salt, like sodium chloride, can dissolve in water and pollute nearby ponds, lakes, and oceans. It can even harm the water supply if it seeps into the groundwater. The salt from de-icing roads can accumulate in the soil, making it less fertile. It can also be potentially toxic to wildlife, as birds and small mammals can die from eating road salt. 

Salt can have detrimental effects on the ground beneath our feet. It can be toxic to plants. When applied at high concentrations, road salt can kill plants. As you may have noticed, salt corrodes the metals in your car. Its corrosive nature poses a risk to nearby buildings and infrastructure. It can harm the health of people using it. When applied incorrectly, people can be affected by the runoff and the dust. Some reports suggest that salt can even be fatal for pets. 

Why is Sand Better at Controlling Ice? 

Environmental overview: Sand does not dissolve in water and therefore does not pose a threat to water bodies. Even if sand gets kicked up by cars, it will not cause as much corrosion. Sand is less corrosive than salt, and hence it is highly unlikely to cause any damage to buildings. Moreover, it is biodegradable and does not pose any threat to the soil. Its non-toxic nature makes it safe for the environment and makes general living conducive. 

How Can You Use Sand for Ice Control?

Let’s get you started with a few tips: 

  • Use the right kind of sand. You should avoid using silica sand as it is toxic and may harm your lungs.
  • Keeping sand on hand for de-icing is a great idea. 
  • Ensure not to pour sand directly onto ice or concrete. Instead, place sand in a bucket with holes, put it in a shaker bag, and hang it near the area where you need to melt ice.

Which Type of Sand Should You Use?

This depends on your climate conditions. Coarse sand can be used in the northern part of the country, where temperatures fall below freezing degrees for a prolonged period. While you can also use coarse sand in the southern part of the country, it is less effective in places with mild winters. Places with mild winters will gain the best from fine sand. Brackish sand is often used for beaches and wildlife sandboxes. You should avoid silica sand, given its toxic nature. 

We recommend taking a look at our sand selection, including Iowa DOT-certified sand, and letting us know how we can find a solution best for you. 

This Winter, Make a Switch that will be Most Effective & Sustainable 

It’s winter. Snow is gradually entering our spaces to be a part of our lives for the next few months. There is no better time than now to use a better, environmental-friendly alternative than salt. Sand provides the traction you need without the corrosion.
Are you wondering where to source your materials from? Contact Legacy Materials today.

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