Thursday, January 8, 2015

Simple Suggestion #223... Sand, don't salt

I was out with Shadow pup before Christmas, and ran into Brian, a neighbour who has three big dogs: two huskies and a golden retriever. He was putting sand on his sidewalks, which had a few ice patches. A gregarious guy, Brian often engages passersby in long conversations about everything and anything, and that day, he stopped me to tell me that sand is much better than commercial de-icers when it comes to our wintry walkways.

"Yeah, I bought one of those jugs of the so-called "green" de-icers last year," he said, "but it was fluorescent pink. That should have been my first clue. No harsh chemicals, the label said. Won't harm vegetation. Yeah, right, who are they kidding? The stuff ate into the concrete, killed my lawn all along the edges, and my dogs didn't like it much either. Got stuck between the pads of their feet, and it must be pretty uncomfortable because they sure made a fuss. Sand is better. Not so convenient, but better."

True, sand doesn't actually melt ice unless the sun shines down hard enough to warm it. It leaves a bit of a slipperiness of its own when sidewalks are dry (of course, then it can be swept up and reused the next time it's icy). As Brian noted, sand doesn't pit the sidewalk, or kill vegetation, or make dogs whine.

Five minutes after my chat with him, I was carrying Shadow because he'd gone lame, working my fingers into the fur between his pads to find a chunk of salt from a sidewalk next to Brian's. After that the dog was okay -- until we reached the next salted sidewalk. And when we got home, I had to put his feet into a basin to wash them. No point in letting him lick that salt off and have him end up with kidney trouble in addition to sore feet.

De-icers made with chemicals or salt seem a convenient solution to the problem of ice... but salt is what conquering armies used to lay waste the arable land of their enemies. Salt and/or chemicals spread on our sidewalks has to go somewhere... and usually kill something, so if we're living by the Hippocratic oath and doing no harm, maybe we should just use sand for our walks... and keep salt for our seasoning!

Shadow and his kin will thank us.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Click here.

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