Wisconsin is known for some brutal winters. Green Bay hit a record low at -31 in 1951 and Wausau has seen over 100 inches of snow in just one season. From our Kaukauna showroom, we travel far and wide across our service area throughout the year and have driven through some serious snowstorms along the way. We love a good winter snowstorm as much as the next Wisconsinite, but there are 30-40 winter weather events hitting the state each winter and 113,000 miles of local streets, county and state highways to plow. Salt trucks along US-41 and salted roads in wintertime are a welcome sight, especially considering that according to the American Highway Users Alliance, using road salt reduces collisions by nearly 85 percent.
While road salt is great for traction on our driveways and highways, it’s not so great for the environment. Try out some of these eco-friendly alternatives you can use at home to protect your yard and local habitats.
Organic Ice Melting Products
Going organic in this department can be a little pricey. If you’re willing to pay the extra bucks, organic ice melting products can be an effective, environmentally-friendly option that gives you a peace of mind when spreading around your home.
The Farmer’s Almanac cites the 100% natural commercial fertilizer alfalfa meal as an effective and little known ice melting alternative. The substance creates added traction to surfaces, giving an extra element of safety. In most areas you can find the product at any local gardening store.
Liquid Cheese Brine
One out-of-the-box solution for snowy roads was started by Wisconsin’s Polk County. According to the County Highway Department Technical Support Manager Emil Norby, a mixture of salt and cheese brine speeds melting and helps salt stick to the roadway. While certainly a smelly solution, it’s a greener option compared to normal road salt.
Similar to cheese brine, pickle brine is a new alternative that speeds melting. National Geographic says it’s a better option than salt, as it prevents ice and snow from bonding with surfaces making it easy to chip off and remove. As for being eco-friendly, it reduces the amount of chloride released into waterways by 14 to 29 percent.
While still a very new concept, solar panels could keep our driveways, roads and sidewalks clear of snow according to Mother Nature Network. The system would allow energy from the sun to be stored and used as a heat source, melting snow on contact and/or after falling to keep roads clear without the need for road crews. Although the idea is environmentally friendly, there are hefty start-up costs to implement a system.
The Best Alternative
According to Green Living, the truly greenest choice for homeowners is to not use anything at all. Shoveling quickly right when snow falls is the best thing to do, but not always an option. A good rule of thumb is if you are ever able to shovel, skip on the melting products and enjoy the workout.
What’s your go-to ice and snow melt product for the Wisconsin winters?