January 11th, 2011

Tips for Eco-Friendly Snow and Ice Removal

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Photo used under Creative Commons from Diana di_the_huntress

For the East Coast and around much of the country, winter means the arrival of snow and ice-and lots of it.  The removal of snow and ice from walkways and driveways is a job that most homeowners would love to hand off to someone else.  However, many of us find shoveling well within our job description each time a new dumping of snow falls.

You can do your part to help protect the planet by following a few simple guidelines when removing snow and ice.


Don’t use salt to melt ice

Salt will melt the ice but……its not so eco-friendly.

  • Salt can leach heavy metals which can end up in our water supplies
  • Salt can hurt our pets if it gets lodged in their paws
  • Salt residue prevents plants from absorbing moisture and nutrients. Salt kills our flowers and grass.
  • Salt is corrosive and can damage cars, leading to reduced sustainability of vehicles.
  • It will also damage bridges and any other concrete surfaces it comes in contact with.
  • Salt run off  from sidewalks and streets can increase salinity in local bodies of water, causing long-term damage.

Don’t use ash and kitty litter

  • They don’t melt the ice. They do provide traction only on the surface of the snow.
  • They can adversely affect vegetation and get into waterways.
  • Can be messy once spring hits.


  1. Use an ergonomic shovel to protect your back from injury.
  2. Use an ice breaker and some muscle to chop up the ice.
  3. Shovel more and use sand less.  Get out there and shovel early and often. Clear away as much snow and ice as possible and the need for anything additional will diminish.
  4. Use sand if traction is all that is needed.  Use sparingly because it can clog up sewers and lower air quality in areas that use a lot of it. It can also ruin hardwood floors if tracked inside.
  5. Use an eco-friendly ice melt product when needed-but use sparingly.  When choosing an environmentally friendly ice melt, take the time to read the ingredient list.  Make sure all the ingredients are safe for you, your kids, your pets and the environment.

*Ingredient info: Magnesium chloride is salt, a safer and less corrosive salt than the more common sodium chloride, but still salt.


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16 Responses to “Tips for Eco-Friendly Snow and Ice Removal”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandra Lee and Heath Lackey. Heath Lackey said: Tips for Eco-Friendly Snow and Ice Removal | Groovy Green Livin: You can do your part to help protect the planet… http://bit.ly/fMbUlG […]

  2. These are great ideas, too many people reach for the salt when they don’t need it.

  3. Hi I’m kristina following from MBC. Love the blog.


  4. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. The Minnesota DOT stopped using Magnesium chloride salt because it damages concrete more than sodium chloride. Larry Sutter from Michigan Tech did the study.

  6. Thanks for the info Allexx.

  7. Here’s my article on safely removing snow from solar panels http://www.greenlifestylechanges.com/going-for-solar-removing-snow-from-solar-panels/

    and our post on the “greenest” snow removal tools- yes a shovel is at the top of the list.

    Jonathan Hunt recently posted..How I got my son excited for yogurt!My Profile

  8. Don’t leave your car idling while you clear the driveway: it won’t warm up in time to melt the stuff on the windshield (if it does, you’ve just inhaled a bunch of pollutants; it’s not worth it). Enjoy listening to the snowfall. Then clear your car of snow and ice. My best friend for scraping the windows? a credit card. Straight edge, just the right amount of give, and when the edges get a little frayed your bank will send you a replacement on request.
    CelloMom recently posted..My Big Fat Dutch WeddingMy Profile

  9. […] gives traction. Stay away from de-icing salts and road salts. These will melt ice as it forms, but leach metals into the water supply and can cause painful paws for pets when salt crystals lodge in tier feet. […]

  10. I didn’t realize the harmful effects that using salt to melt ice had. We get hit with some heavy snow where I live and it gets difficult to handle. I will remember to avoid salt from here on out.

  11. I’m happy I came across this post. I’ve just added new knowledge to the eco-friendly information I already know. Thanks for sharing!
    Eco-Friendly Woman recently posted..Eco-Riding with Green CarsMy Profile

  12. We don’t get a lot of ice , but when we do, we get some wicked ice storms. Years ago, I bought a product called Driveway Heat because it was supposed to be better for plants and concrete than salt. Of course, no ingredients are disclosed on the label. So I certainly hope it’s not too awful in case I have to use any this year.

    I used to live in the Chicago area, so I would like to comment further on the meaning of “a good shovel.” Look for one with sort of an S-shaped handle. That design is much, much better for your back! I’m glad I brought mine down here, because I have had to use it on a sloping driveway.

  13. I am interested with what you said about using salt for snow removal. I didn’t know that it had that many effects on the environment. My family typically didn’t have the means to get salt growing up, so I’ve never really used it. From what you said, I guess that is a good thing! We would always just do old fashioned snow shoveling.

  14. I didn’t understand the hurtful impacts that utilizing salt to soften ice had. We get hit with some substantial snow where I live and it gets hard to handle. I will recollect to keep away from salt starting now and into the foreseeable future.

  15. That’s interesting, I never knew people used kitty liver and ashes to try and melt the snow. It makes sense, though, what you said; these two options are not for melting the snow, but rather for creating traction on top of the snow. I’m glad you focused on being eco-friendly in this article — I’ll do whatever I can to keep the environment clean while still removing all the snow in my driveway.

  16. These are great Eco friendly tips for snow and ice removal! I’m glad you list the importance of not using salt, because even though salt does melt ice is also does other great damages! Thanks for sharing!

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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