Welcome to Greenways, a monthly guide to living lean, clean and green in North Central Washington.
Technically, this is a welcome back since The Wenatchee World introduced Greenways as a quarterly special section last year. Advertiser support, though, did not justify continuing it as a special section. The content — a practical and largely local look at green living — is important and increasingly relevant, though, so you’ll now find Greenways in your newspaper the first Monday of each month in place of the regular Home and Garden section.
Have questions or green-related story ideas to share? Call features editor Marco Martinez at 664-7149 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WENATCHEE — Salting sidewalks to get rid of ice might not appeal to everyone, but consider the possible alternative: busting your backside from an unexpected fall.
“Nowadays, people don’t need to be afraid to use de-icer on their walks and driveways,” advises Michael Goode, a sales clerk at Stan’s Merry Mart in Wenatchee and the store’s de-icing guru. “Follow the directions, and everything should work out just right.”
Most modern de-icers are formulated to melt away ice on outdoor surfaces — sidewalks, driveways, decks and patios — without harming kids, pets, vegetation, concrete surfaces and the environment in general, says Goode.
“But this is a chemical, even if it’s a mild one, so I always urge customers to read the instructions,” he says.
In the last few decades, de-icers have evolved from the corrosive salts of yesteryear — the kind that would rust out the bottom of your pickup — to friendlier formulas that resemble, believe it or not, many commercial fertilizers.
Potassium chloride, a key ingredient in these new de-icers, lowers the freezing point of snow and ice without the caustic side effects of sodium chloride (table salt), which in wrong quantities can damage concrete and kill lawns and shrubs.
How de-icing salts work — and which works best — all has to do with chemical composition, dissolved particles and the resulting production of ions. More ions mean a lower freezing point of water, which means ice and snow will melt at certain temperatures when sprinkled with certain salt formulas.
Thankfully, homeowners don’t need to be chemists to melt away ice on their front walks and steps. “But you should know how to apply de-icers in the right way,” says Ethel Wright, owner of Stan’s.
She recommends using about one cup or less per square yard, as stipulated on many de-icer packages, and removing the resulting slush and water from the top layer as it melts.
“You don’t want that stuff to re-freeze,” she says. “That won’t do anyone any good.”
Wright, who’s worked at Stan’s for 51 years, also says she’s given up worrying about modern de-icers harming lawns and landscaping because of product advancements.
And customers worried about harming their animals, she says, should use de-icers specifically designed to be used around pets.
She recommends Safe Pet, a non-corrosive ice melter guaranteed not to harm a pet’s paws, eyes or skin.
Damage to concrete walks and driveways usually occurs when a homeowner uses too much salt or de-icer, says Goode. “This is definitely not a case when ‘a little bit is good so a lot must be better,’ ” he adds.
“De-icers are made to work in a certain way, so — did I say this before? — follow the instructions.”
For sprinkling across large areas, a handheld fertilizer spreader can be helpful, says Goode, with a broadcast push spreader best for even larger areas such as big patios or parking lots.
Mike Irwin: 665-1179