How to De-Ice Your Property the Eco-Friendly Way

When kids (and their parents) see the white stuff start coming down, their first thought is “Snow day!” If you own or manage a commercial property, however, all you are likely seeing is a big job ahead of you.

A recently plowed commercial asphalt parking lot.

In Ontario, property managers are responsible for keeping their premises safe for tenants and the public. That includes ice and snow management, which can result in costly personal injury lawsuits if not performed correctly.

Ice control has traditionally been an area of concern for those worried about environmental impact. Most ice melter products contain calcium, sodium, chloride, and other products that can accumulate on sidewalks, parking lots, and roadways and run into the storm sewers once warmer weather hits. This runoff can have a negative effect on water quality as well as affect soil and plant life.

At Green Collar, we help commercial property managers safely manage snow and ice buildup when Ontario winters are at their finest. If you’re looking for more eco-friendly ways to make your surfaces less slippery, we’ve compiled a list of all-natural deicers that are effective enough to meet the rigorous needs of commercial use.

Homemade deicer

This solution is both easy and cost-effective because it consists of ingredients available in most kitchens or utility rooms. For smaller surface areas like a driveway or sidewalk, mix the following in a bucket:

  • 6-8 drops of dish soap
  • 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol
  • A half-gallon of hot water (approximately two litres)

Pour the mixture onto the surface. The ice and any accumulated snow should bubble up and melt. Once it stops, clear away any remaining chunks of ice.

Coffee grounds

With property management, you start early and stay on the job until late, so chances are that your coffee maker is always in use. Take those leftover coffee grounds, which contain nitrogen and safe, natural acids, and toss them over freshly-shoveled pavement. Traction will immediately improve and the acids cause the ice to melt faster. (You’ll also have a valid reason to increase your coffee budget!)

Wood ashes

If you have access to a wood-burning fireplace, sprinkle the ash across icy areas to create traction and accelerate melting. Wood ash is full of potassium salts that will make surfaces safer to walk on without harming the environment.

Sugar beet juice

You can use the juice from sugar beets, either alone or as a salt diluent, to banish ice outside the building. It lowers the freezing point of water and won’t harm humans, animals, or the environment. Because sugar beet juice has been known to work in conditions as cold as -25⁰C, it has been adopted as a deicer by municipalities across Canada.

 It is important to note that canned or bottled beet juice is not the same thing: you need to buy a special sugar beet-based deicer from your local garden centre or on Amazon.

Alfalfa meal

Commonly used as fertilizer, alfalfa meal contains nitrogen, but not in sufficient quantities to harm lawns, gardens, or the water system. You can buy a bag at a gardening store and use its grainy, dry texture to provide traction for pedestrians while it melts ice and snow. A potential drawback is that you might find alfalfa sprouting on your lawn in the spring, but it’s an outcome that’s easily dealt with.

Cheese brine

If you can get it, cheese brine works great. The salty baths used to make cheeses like provolone or mozzarella is usually discarded as a waste product, but some areas (many of which are in Wisconsin, unsurprisingly) use it to make roads and walkways ice-free. Cheese brine has been found to speed up the melting process and it also has a lower freezing point, which is perfect for January and February in Ontario!

What about sand?

Sand doesn’t melt ice in and of itself: it is mainly used during winter to provide traction for pedestrians. However, if you lay it out on a sunny day, it can heat under the sun’s rays and encourage melting. On cloudy days, go for one of the natural deicers listed above.

How to prepare a surface for de-icing

Before applying your favourite sustainable de-icer, you’ll need to clear away all the snow. This is when you want to work with a reputable and reliable company that offers commercial snow removal services during the winter months. Depending on the terms of the snow removal contract, they may come to clear the property when snowfall is greater than one inch or supply deicing services after an ice storm to avoid unsafe walking conditions.

An experienced snow removal company will also:

  • Ensure that the snow is piled in areas where any melt will not run off into pedestrian areas and possibly pool and freeze. Instead, the contractors will pile snow in places that allow it to melt into landscaped areas or surface drains.
  • Follow proper safety protocols during the most difficult removal conditions and remain up-to-date with the latest technologies, guidelines, and occupational safety standards.
  • Carry liability insurance to give you peace of mind. Accidents can still happen despite one’s best efforts, and you want to work with a business that is adequately insured, otherwise, your own insurance rates could skyrocket.

We support property managers all year round

At Green Collar, we are prepared and equipped to help you keep your commercial property free of snow and ice hazards this winter. Southwestern Ontario has been getting record snowfalls lately, and our team is up for the challenge. We’ll also work with you to ensure that only sustainable deicers are used, so that your building operation is green even when all you’re seeing is white! Get your free quote today by calling 289.339.8746.