6 Deicing Tips to Prepare Outdoor Surfaces For Winter

The nights are drawing in and there is a distinct chill in the air . All the leaves are brown, as the song goes… It’s definitely time to start thinking about getting ready for winter. One key area to prepare for is taking measures to stay safe when the frost, ice and snow and get some deicing tips to make outdoor areas non slippery and easy to negotiate. Now is the perfect time to replenish stocks of a salt-free deicer. So, you can have it to hand exactly when you need it as temperatures fall and the rain or snow arrives.

Deicing Tips For Exterior Surfaces

As well as getting prepared with ice melts and deicing products, October and November are the best months for checking, repairing and preparing outdoor surfaces. Early attention to this will ensure they can handle the icy onslaughts and not get damaged beyond repair. Different surfaces require different approaches. Here are six common surfaces and some appropriate deicing tips to treat them.

ecogrit concentrate- deicing tips

1. Concrete

Concrete is porous, which means that it can allow moisture to seep inside. Excess rainwater, melting ice, frost and snow can all get inside concrete and cause problems. The water expands and contracts as the temperature rises and falls, causing cracks and spalling to the concrete surface. Use a good quality sealant to fill in any cracks, or have them professionally repaired before the sub-zero temperatures arrive. One of the deicing tips is making use of salt-free deicer on icy surfaces to clear them safely and without causing harm to people, pets or vehicles. Do not use rock salts as it can harm pets and concrete.

2. Asphalt

Asphalt can also be damaged by cold weather, ice and frost. Problems include cracks that allow moisture in, as well as erosion caused by laying snow and ice. Check and repair any existing cracks in asphalt surfaces – even smaller ones. Deicing tips for asphalt is applying a layer of sealant to concrete and asphalt , to help waterproof and prepare outdoor surfaces for winter. You can make use of salt-free deicer to protect surfaces from compacted ice and snow.

3. Brickwork

Prolonged rainfall or snow can damage both bricks and the mortar in between them. This damage can appear in the form of cracks, chips or erosion. If water gets inside and then freezes, this can cause bigger problems and even threaten the integrity of a wall or paved driveway. Get any crumbling, cracked or missing mortar replaced as soon as possible. Check out the bricks or paving stones too for signs of cracks or damage. Do this now, before icy surfaces make it harder to see what’s happening.

road- deicing tips

4. Metal Railings And Gates

Sturdy metal railings and gates could quite literally be a lifesaver this winter. They give people something to grab hold of to stop them sliding around and having a nasty fall. So, it is important to ensure they are protected ahead of time. Check them carefully for signs of rust or damage. Catching these sorts of issues early will help save time and money later on. Consider applying a protective layer of frost-resistant wax or buy a weatherproof cover for especially cold nights. If you know there is going to be frost in the night, mix up some deicer into a spray bottle and apply liberally before you go to bed.

5. Garden And Grass

Water from melting ice can generally seep away into grass and soil without causing too many problems. However, make sure that any deicing products used do not contain rock salt, urea or anything else that could harm the ecosystem. This is because the pollutants can damage wildlife, plants, pets and people.

garden -deicing tips

Salt grains from treated grass can be walked indoors too, which can ruin carpets and rugs. Bring any delicate plants under cover if you intend them to survive the winter and. Consider adding a thick layer of mulch to your borders. This will act as insulation against the cold for the delicate bulbs and roots underneath the surface.

6. School Sports Surfaces And Playgrounds

Before schools break up for the Christmas holidays, plan and schedule in any maintenance work that needs to be done to playgrounds, sports pitches, climbing frames and other exterior surfaces. That way, work can begin as soon as the children start their winter break. Mend any damage, repaint faded lines and ensure that you have plenty of salt-free deicer in stock. These maintenance and deicing tips will help keep everyone safe from slipping on the ice when they come back to school in January 2022.

Planning a Winter Road Trip? Winter Driving Tips To Keep You Safe

After the year we have all had, it is tempting to look ahead to a winter getaway to refresh the soul. Many of our summer holiday plans have been limited or affected by the pandemic and quarantine requirements. So, as we head towards winter weather, now could be the perfect time to plan an exciting – or relaxing – winter road trip.

Planning a Winter Road Trip? Winter Driving Tips To Keep You Safe

However, travelling in the colder months brings its own challenges. While you discuss possible destinations and consult diaries, don’t forget to check out our safer winter driving tips at the same time.

Plan ahead

Take time to work out your driving route and the types of roads and surfaces you will encounter. Plan how long each stage of your winter road trip will take. This will give you a better idea about the time you need to allocate to reaching your destination(s) so you don’t have to drive too fast. You will also get chance yo know about the road closure if exists in any place.

Planning a Winter Road Trip? Winter Driving Tips To Keep You Safe

Book your car in with your garage for a check-up before you leave. Leave enough time to sort out any issues that may arise. You may need to change your tyres for something more suitable for winter driving conditions – the AA recommends at least 3mm of tread. Check fuel levels too. You might even like to research where you will be able to refuel on route for full peace of mind. Pack comfortable clothes and shoes to drive in. If your car is automatic, see if it comes with a winter road trip

Get your car winter ready

This is one of the most important winter driving tips to follow. After your car has had its professional winter check-up, do your own assessment at home. Clean all windows and mirrors to give maximum visibility. Double check tyre pressures and oil and water/windscreen washer levels. Top up your antifreeze to protect your engine from freezing and cracking in very severe conditions.

Make sure your lights all work and that windscreen wipers are in decent condition too. The lights will make you more visible to other road users in dull conditions. Your wipers are essential to help clear frost, condensation and winter mist

tyres been changed due to pothole.

Pack some useful winter emergency kit in case of an emergency. It is a good idea to carry a first aid kit, blankets and a torch with spare batteries for winter road trip. Other things that could be useful to put in the car in the winter include:

  • Fully charged mobile phone and in-car charger
  • Snow shovel or brush
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables to restart battery
  • Gloves, winter clothing and hi-vis jackets
  • Sunglasses – to reduce glare of frost and snow while driving
  • Emergency flare or reflector or a warning triangle
  • Extra water and windscreen washer fluid
  • Non-perishable snacks and drinking water

Always carry car deicer

Top of the list of supplies to keep in the car during a winter road trip is deicer or ice melt. This can clear windscreens from ice and frost quickly, preventing delays in setting off. It can also clear mirrors and unstick frozen door locks. You can use it on surfaces too, to help prevent your car from slipping too much. EcoGrit ice melt can be applied to surfaces before frost arrives and works down to temperatures of minus 20 degrees C.

ECOGrit Concentrate buckets of Ice melts

Choose a car deicer that does not contain any rock salt, such as EcoGrit. Not only is this because it is better for the environment, but it also reduces the risk of causing damage to your car.Rock salt is corrosive and can harm the undersides of cars and it is a bad idea to use for the road network. . It can also damage carpets and upholstery if the driver or passengers bring it inside

Winter Road Trip

Driving on winter roads is not the same as in other seasons and the risks can be far higher due to bad weather. Always go slowly to give yourself and other people more time to react. Look ahead for potential hazards. Apply brakes gently and leave longer stopping distances to account for slippery road surfaces. Always clear snow from the roof and windows before setting off. If you leave any behind, it could slip down while you are driving and obscure your view.

Other key tips in winter road trip include keeping to a constant speed as you drive and leaving plenty of room between you and the car in front. This is especially crucial when going uphill. If you have to stop halfway up a hill, it can be very hard to change gear or move off again without slipping if the surface is frosty. Similarly, use a low gear to go downhill and try not to brake too much.

If you run into problems

Try not to panic if you skid on black ice in winter road trip. The calmer you are, the more likely it will be that you will be able to bring the car under control. Always steer gently into the direction that you feel your car sliding in. Trying to correct it too aggressively, could cause the wheels to lock. Use your gears to slow down instead of the brakes for the same reason. Never take your hands off the steering wheel.

winter road trip - road with vechicle

Roads in winter road trip is covered with  ice and snow. If you get stuck in an ice scraper or snow on the road in cold weather conditions , put some old sacking or a rug in front of the driving wheels to help the tyres regain some grip. Straighten the steering wheel and clear the snow and ice from around the tyres. Use ice melt to help speed up the process. Drive very slowly when attempting to free yourself so you don’t strain your car’s engine.

More advice and winter driving tips can be found on the RAC website.

All The Leaves Are Brown: How To Protect Outdoor Surfaces For Autumn

The UK summer has seen some pretty unpredictable weather ranging from heat waves to full-on thunderstorms. As the weeks start to give way to impending autumn, the effects of the autumnal weather on outdoor surfaces such as play areas, garden paths, outdoor sports surfaces, natural stone areas, multi use game areas etc. will only continue to have an impact.

While days are still long and sunshine prevalent, it’s time to work out  how to protect outdoor surfaces for autumn.

Caring for outdoor surfaces

Looking after different types of exteriors and materials can prolong their useful life considerably. It also keeps  outdoor space and surfaces looking newer for longer.

Finally, keeping outdoor surfaces in good condition will be safer for those who use them because it minimizes accidents. This includes people, animals and vehicles. Different  outdoor surfaces require different autumn preparation.

outdoor surfaces - autumn evening

Concrete

Concrete is porous, meaning that it can take in water. This can become a problem in sub-zero conditions, because the water will freeze and expand, cracking the concrete. If you can prevent water from getting inside in the first place, this will make a big difference. Applying a hydrophobic sealing coating, like a resin, oil or silicone based product can really help. As can fixing any cracks that will allow too much water in at once.

Wood

Sheds, fencers, picnic tables and decking all fall foul of autumn and winter weather in a similar way. Give wood its best chance of survival by repairing any damaged or rotting areas now. Add protection by applying a waterproof seal to stop water from getting too far inside the wood. You can also use special stains, paints, preservers and oils to give extra layers of protection and give wood a pleasing finish.

All The Leaves Are Brown: How To Protect Outdoor Surfaces For Autumn

Brickwork and masonry

Cold weather can stop building works in their tracks, so schedule any construction projects or repairs now. This is because the temperatures are higher than in autumn so mortar won’t crack or freeze. Really cold weather can also stop bricks from setting properly, leading to problems later on. There is also less chance of rain in summer months (although not zero chance, as we have been seeing recently).

Iron gates and railings

While iron is tough and highly durable, it can still benefit from some seasonal care ahead of autumn. The main thing to do is give iron a clean. Some types of dirt such as bird droppings and tree secretions can be acidic and cause chemical damage. Most dirt can be cleaned off with soap and water.

outdoor surfaces - irons

You can then apply a layer of wax for added protection for it outer surfaces of iron if you wish. You may need to scrub a bit harder at stubborn patches. Avoid using anything too sharp for this and be careful not to scratch the surface itself. Inspect all over for signs of rust. You can apply rust-resistant paint to help ward this off.

Painted signs and lines

Outdoor surfaces such as school playgrounds, car parks, sports pitches and roads can all have directional or recreational lines and signs painted on them. These fade over time, making them less effective as an aid to users. It can even be dangerous if warning signage becomes too faded to be easily seen. Again, use lighter summer months to repaint or relocate painted signage in your campaign to protect outdoor surfaces for autumn.

You have plenty of time now to plan playground layouts before the grand return to school in September. This also applies to getting ready ahead of the return of commuter traffic after the summer holidays. Not to mention the need to protect outdoor surfaces for autumn ahead of the start of new seasons in autumn/winter sports like rugby or football. 

Prepare now for frost and snow

Last but by no means least is the importance of planning ahead for frost and snow. It might be warm and sunny now (or there might be torrential summer rain…), but the frost and chilly temperatures will return. These can play havoc with exterior surfaces. Invisible ice and frost can also be very dangerous for people and animals walking on them. It can damage the underside of vehicles as well.

Golden Retriever puppies resting on the snow

As a result, it is vital to have plenty of stocks in of pet-safe ice melt. This is a safer, more environmentally-friendly way to get rid of laying ice and snow. You can apply it the night before to stop ice from forming and sprinkle it onto already frozen surfaces to speed up the melting process. Applying ice melt is also far cheaper that making repairs after frost damage. Be organised and order your stocks in now before demand rises in autumn and winter.

School’s out – Maintenance of school surfaces during the holidays

The summer holidays are here, bringing a welcome break from the rigours of school for pupils and teachers alike. The long break is the perfect time to take a look at your school surfaces, in particular playground care.

Why is summer a good time for maintenance of school surfaces?

maintenance of school surfaces - kid playing

Maintenance of school surfaces needs careful attention, but it is harder when people are milling about. So, having access to an empty school makes the job much easier.

Summer is also a good time to do any upgrades or repairs ahead of the autumn term, This is a because the weather will get colder and wetter as we move towards winter. It is also nice for people who are new joiners in September to come into a school with well-repaired premises.

What areas of school surfaces should you look at first?

Above all, school must be a safe, warm and hazard-free environment where children can learn and play. Your buildings are an important asset, as are your playgrounds, sports pitches and other outdoor areas. You should therefore look first at maintenance of school surfaces in urgent need of repair.

Having things go wrong during term can cost money, disrupt lessons and upset parents and the wider school community. It can also invalidate insurance, put people at risk and violate regulations.

Site survey for maintenance of school surfaces.

Before starting maintenance of school surfaces, it is a good idea to carry out inspections of school surfaces. Look at all buildings and outdoor areas to see if there are any cracks, damage, vandalism or problems with drainage. Note down what needs doing and get some quotes for repair or upgrade. Break down each area by use and work out a timetable for repairs. Areas to think about include:

two brothers petting their cat and playing with rocks
  • Exterior walls of buildings
  • Outhouses and storage sheds
  • Playgrounds
  • Sports pitches
  • Handrails, railings and gates
  • Climbing frames and other play equipment
  • Garden areas
  • Driveways and car parks

More information about what to cover in site surveys and inspections for schools .

A key job is to prepare for the cold weather ahead and the damage it can cause. For instance, frost and ice can crack the surface and cause breaks and tears. Snow can build up and become heavy on a compromised surface. Invest now in good, salt-free de-icer so that you can be ready for the frost when it is forecast.

School’s out – Maintenance of school surfaces during the holidays

You can apply ice melt ahead of the frost appearing to help protect and maintenance of school surfaces. So, have plenty of supplies in stock, ready for when you need them.

You can also use ice melt products on climbing frames, handrails and other exterior surfaces. Order plenty of lagging materials to protect exterior pipes and outside taps too. If you do this now, you won’t have to worry about it later on, after the start of term

Protect and prepare hard surfaces

Maintenance of school surfaces starts from treat and repair any cracks, breaks or damage to the concrete, asphalt, tarmac or other surfaces as part of your playground care. Repaint any lines, pitch or court marks or games drawn on and clear wet leaves that could cause further harm as they settle and rot down.

Inspect brickwork, especially low walls that could fall down if damaged and injure anyone who could be climbing or walking along them. Check wooden surfaces like decking for rotten planks or infestations. Think like a child and prioritise the areas where they are most likely to play or explore.

Sports pitches and grass

Schools benefit hugely from having sports pitches and grassy areas for athletics, team games or relaxation. Grass grows rapidly in summer, so it is important to tend it regularly maintenance of school surfaces in top condition. Mow grass frequently and treat it with suitable nutrients and weed or moss killers. Reapply seed if any areas are looking sparse.

The summer is a good time to do this because you won’t have to keep people off the grass during a working day or interrupt games lessons. You can also keep a better eye on your grass without hundreds of pairs of feet trampling it each day.

maintenance of school surfaces - slider

Look to the future

Once you have sorted, or put plans into place for immediate maintenance issues, it’s time to think about future plans. Do you need new resources, or can you expand existing school surfaces? Think about how you can use areas better. For instance, you could add new painted lines and games to plain tarmac areas to add scope for imaginative play.

Could you add more space for gardens to help children grow produce or for a sensory area? Would the addition of floodlights allow you to offer more opportunities to play matches after dark in the winter?

It is important  to turn your attention now to how your school surfaces can be used in the autumn and winter ahead. This is because you have the time to work on expansion maintenance of school surfaces in the holidays.

You can also take more time ordering products such as ice melt now. As a result, that you are not caught by surprise later on if the weather suddenly turns really cold later on.

Why Rock salt Is Bad News For Dogs’ Paws And What You Can Do About It

Group portrait of adorable puppies

When the weather turns to frost and snow, Much thought is given to ways to stop people and pets from slipping and sliding as they walk along. A common method that many people use is spreading rock salt to add traction and help the ice to melt away. However, what seems at first to be an effective solution for melting snow, can actually end up causing more problems than it solves – especially when it comes to our canine friends and their feet.

Dogs’ paws are delicate underneath and can easily become irritated, injured or sore when they are exposed to something harmful underfoot. Rock salt contains sodium chloride, which can irritate the pads on canine paws and cause digestion and stomach issued if ingested, e.g. if the dog licks his paws to get rid of the salt. Dogs can also walk the slat indoors, causing damage to carpets and flooring, as well a spreading the risk of other pets swallowing it and becoming unwell as a result.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to reduce the risk of your dog being exposed to rock salt. From choosing different routes for the daily walk to investing in dog-friendly ice melt, here’s how to keep man’s best friend safer and healthier this winter.

 

Treat the feet

Cute dog giving his paw

Even without the risk of rock salt becoming embedded in your dog’s paws, winter walks can come with additional risks. Check the paws after every walk or time spent outside for any trapped salt grains or debris, cuts and evidence of soreness or irritation. Gently wash your dog’s feet when you get home, patting them dry with a towel. You might like to add a thin layer of petroleum jelly or a similar barrier before taking your dog outside. You can also get specialist dog booties for your pet to wear for added protection and warmth.

 

Ring the changes

If your usual walking routes take you past a lot of treated paths, pavements and driveways that could have rock salt on them, try walking somewhere else for a while to give your dog a break. Go for more rural spots, where the roads etc. may not have been treated quite so assiduously with rock salt, or other non-dog-friendly salt products. Good places to try if you can’t reach the countryside so easily are parks, gardens and fields (check dogs are allowed in these places first), where they can enjoy walking and playing in softer, untrodden snow.

 

Water aware

The owner gave dogs the water from bottle to drink.

Don’t let your dog drink from puddles or streams in colder weather, as rock salt from treated frost and ice may have run off into pools of water, where it will cause harm if swallowed. Always carry your own water supply and some treats for your dog during a walk so that you can give him what he needs at any point along the route. Equally, take a blanket or towel to clean him off if he gets muddy, rather than allowing him to wash in potentially salty water. While on the topic of drinking, watch out for signs of dehydration as dogs use up extra energy staying warm in the winter and may need extra food and water to help him with this.

 

Pet-safe ice melt

A dog on the street in winter

One particularly effective way to protect your canine companion when out and about in the winter is to use a pet-friendly ice melting product like EcoGrit that does not contain any rock salt, urea or other harmful ingredients to grit your own driveway, paths and garden. This gives your dog a wider area to run about safely, while still enabling you to clear ice and snow effectively and safely, down to -20°C. It works for up to seven days, meaning that you don’t need to use so much, and it is safe if pets accidentally ingest it. It’s biodegradable too, meaning that you can extend your love of animals to the wider ecological habitats around your home, garden and locality.

 

Indoor and outdoor fun

Finally, if you provide your dog with plenty of room for plating, eating, sleeping and generally enjoying life indoors, he won’t have to rely on being outside for his daily living requirements. Make him a safe, comfortable place to sleep and have separate eating areas and lots of toys to play with to keep his body and mind active, whatever the weather.

Why do we grit roads?

Wintertime brings about many challenges for people trying to go about their daily lives, not least of which is coping with slippery ice on driveways, pavements and roads. Falls from slipping or sliding over on black ice, hardened snow and frost account for a high proportion of the injuries seen by hospital A&E departments in the colder months and the repercussions from these can last for a lot longer than one season.

Why do we grit roads?

Additionally, cycling and driving is more dangerous to do on an icy road due to the lack of traction and longer time needed to brake safely. Collisions between cars etc. are more likely to occur if one or more driver starts to lose control of their vehicle. A quick and easy way to reduce the risk and clear away dangerous snow, frost or ice is to spread grit of some form or another onto the road to add traction and help melt the ice so that it turns back into a liquid and runs safely off the surface into the gutters. However, all grit is not the same, and some types are more suitable to use than others.

What is grit made of?

Traditionally, grit used to clear the road is made largely of rock salt. The salt lowers the freezing temperature of the moisture in the ice, causing it to melt away. It breaks down the molecules and makes it harder for the ice to remain frozen. Salting icy roads in this way is effective, right down to temperatures of -26.6 degrees C; however, as already mentioned, it also causes problems due to its corrosive toxicity and effect on the surrounding environment. It is also not safe to eat, so causes additional harm to pets who get it on their paws and lick them to remove it.

Is rock salt safe?

Using the correct terminology from science, rock salt is made of the chemical sodium chloride, which can cause painful salt burns to humans and animals alike if handled too much or incorrectly. It can also be harmful when inhaled, so wearing a mask when applying it is vital.

Rock salt can also harm roads, pavements and driveways, infiltrating porous materials such as concrete and asphalt and lowering their pH level, making it less stable and more prone to cracks, surface spalling and fissures from passing traffic. In turn, these cracks pose a risk to the vehicles themselves and increase the probability of punctures and tears to the tyres and corrosion to the underside of cars, lorries and vans.

How long does salt last on the roads?

Rock salt can stay on pavements and roads for a long time, spreading onto vehicles and people for several days before eventually running off in water from the melted ice or winter rainfall. This is why it is capable of causing such widespread problems.

Once it is diluted in the run-off water or rain puddles, it stays around in liquid form for longer, seeping into the soil, flowing into water sources and clinging to the underside of vehicles and the soles of people’s shoes and animals’ paws. Just one application of rock salt can stay in the local area in one form or another for days, if not weeks.

Does road grit damage the environment?

While road grit consisting mainly or wholly of rock salt can be effective as a deicer, it can cause significant harm to the environment, threatening habitats nearby, such as lakes and rivers, domestic gardens and hedgerows. This is due to the salt getting into water sources, injuring local wildlife and altering the chemistry of the ecosystems affected.

From causing fish, water fowl and other lake and pond life to become sick to leading to plants to defoliate, rock salt affects the environment at multiple levels. Plants absorb the rock salt instead of the crucial minerals they need to survive, which causes mineral deficiencies and makes it harder for the roots to draw up the water from the soil the plant needs to survive.

Why it’s important to use EcoGrit Concentrate

The good news is that there are viable alternatives for deicing and gritting the roads in colder temperatures that do not result in such harmful repercussions. Using an organically derived grit compound that does not contain rock salt will give all the benefits of a powerful deicer safely and easily. EcoGrit Concentrate fits the bill perfectly, with its corrosive ingredients and pet-friendly formula

Carrying EcoGrit with you in your vehicle offers valuable peace of mind that you have to worry about sliding and causing an accident, or having to abandon your car mid-journey. EcoGrit will help get you home and out of the adverse winter weather without harming passers-by, pets, the local wildlife or your own vehicle and belongings.

When is it the right time to grit roads?

We have all seen the huge grittering machines doing their work on frosty roads, and being able to apply grit as quickly as possible really helps keep surfaces safe and traffic flowing smoothly during colder spells. You can apply grit at any stage, but getting it down sooner will generally reap more effective results. Grit can stay on the surface for several days; however, as traffic passes over it, it can be worn away or carried off in melted ice, so regular reapplication is wise.

EcoGrit works on icy surfaces for up to seven days in temperatures down to -20 degrees C. You can even apply it before ice forms to help alleviate problems before they arrive – just keep an eye on the forecast to be well prepared this winter.

What is black ice?

When roads freeze over, they can become covered by a thin layer of smooth ice that is practically invisible to the human eye. This is known as black ice and is more dangerous than coatings of frost or snow, due to its lack of visibility. Vehicles and pedestrians alike can be caught unawares by black ice, especially in areas where it is patchy and so more unpredictable. It is best to stay calm when faced with black ice. Slow down, stay vigilant and keep the vehicle as straight as you can until you can regain traction. If you are walking, try to hold on to a rail or similar to help yourself stay upright and wear suitable shoes or boots with a good, grippy sole so you don’t slip over too easily.

How are potholes formed?

road pothole 11What are potholes?

Potholes are the bane of many a motorist’s and cyclist’s life. They can cause extensive damage to tyres and vehicle undercarriages, as well as providing a nasty tripping hazard for pedestrians and an added risk for cyclists as they negotiate their cycle around affected areas, weaving in and out of the traffic.

What’s more, potholes in the road look ugly and make the whole area look awful. The bad news is that potholes are far from uncommon, with an estimated one on six of Britain’s roads around the country considered in urgent need of resurfacing.

Whatever their geographical location, roads, streets, paths and pavements are all susceptible to pot hole formation. They are caused by ground water expanding and contracting after it has seeped under the surface, compromising the concrete, asphalt or other types of material above. As water freezes into ice, it expands, taking up more space and forcing the surface to bend and crack as it takes up more and more room.

The problem with potholes – Is it getting worse?

Then, as it cools back into water, it contracts again, leaving large gaps under the surface that allow even more water to get in. Eventually, the pattern of expanding and contracting weakens the road or pavement so much that the concrete cracks and unsightly potholes form. They are then made even bigger as the weight of heavy vehicles pass over them, weakening and breaking down the surface even more.

The story doesn’t end there. As temperatures drop low enough for groundwater to freeze, so ice, frost and snow settle on the roads and pavements. This makes them slippery and dangerous for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike. Measures are then taken to melt the ice away and so restore a safer surface.

Problems really start when corrosive rock salt is used for this purpose. The chemicals inside it lower the temperature at which the water freezes, thus creating an accelerated freeze-thaw cycle that allows further damage to happen.

How to prevent potholes

Knowing how do potholes form on dirt roads can help to reduce their impact. It is key to spot potholes in the roadsthem early on, so regular street inspections are crucial. Any potholes that are discovered, however large or small they may be, should be reported straight away to the council, who can then arrange their repair.

If the cracks in a developing pothole can be sealed while they are still small and not able to let vast quantities of water in, this can help to mitigate the potential damage caused to the affected roadway. Materials commonly used to repair forming potholes include thermoplastics and cold plastic infill. These prevent water ingress and strengthen the road, adding to its useful lifespan and removing the need for expensive extensive repairs.

Another way is to stop using corrosive rock salt to grit icy roads. The good news is that there are several alternatives that are not as toxic as rock salt and that offer an

excellent solution without harming any surfaces or surrounding wildlife, people or vehicles. Naturally derived de-icing solutions such as EcoGrit Concentrate can make a huge difference to the state of any roads that are treated and lasts up to seven days. It can be safely left to wash away without harming any local water sources or delicate ecosystems beneath the soil.

Then, a longer-term solution could also include measures to reduce the traffic that use the roads. Introducing cycling schemes and incentives for car sharing, for example, could help to cut down on the number of vehicles that actually pass over compromised parts of the road.

Finally, improving water drainage systems can also help matters, as it gives melting water somewhere to run off to without pooling underneath the surface, ready to crack it and create potholes when temperatures move back below freezing. This can also stop water getting trapped on the roads’ surfaces, which can be hazardous for vehicles travelling by that could be at risk of skidding out of control.

Does rain cause potholes?

Talking of water, in a country that sees a great deal of rain, it could be considered that rain makes potholes worse. Rain certainly doesn’t help; however, the real threat is from the freeze-thaw effect underground that commonly happens in colder seasons.

The best way to keep out the rain is to repair cracks and forming potholes when they are discovered, and protecting the road surface by refraining from using rock salt and opting for an environmentally friendly, organic alternative de-icer, such as EgoGrit Concentrate.

Looking for a safer way to de-ice icy surfaces?

Of course, one of the most effective ways to combat the menace that is the rise of pothole formations across the UK and Republic of Ireland is to stop them from forming in the first place – as best as you can.

Only using chemically gentle de-icing products to treat icy surfaces is a highly effective way to protect vulnerable surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt. For more details about the many benefits of EcoGrit Concentrate, speak to an expert at EcoGrit today

Why rock salt is bad news for the road network

When the ice and snow roll into town, the first thing that many organisations reach for is the rock salt. It is known for its easy availability, low cost and ability to melt frozen surfaces to make them safer to walk or drive on in sub-zero temperatures. This approach, however, can lead to a great deal of damage and disruption further down the line and really should be avoided. The chemicals contained in rock salt, otherwise known as sodium chloride, can damage concrete, asphalt and other surfaces severely if used repeatedly and over a long length of time, leading to significant financial outlay.

What happens to concrete and asphalt treated with rock salt?

Concrete is a porous material, meaning that it is covered in tiny holes that absorb water – along with the rock salt that has dissolved into it as the surface ice melts back into liquid form. Melting water expands and exerts internal pressure, causing the concrete to crack. Rock salt-infused concrete can contain increased amounts of water, making it much more likely to crack and break up. Freshly laid concrete is even more susceptible to damage as it cannot withstand the pressure as effectively while it is still settling and hardening.asphalt road with cracks

Asphalt fares slightly better, being less porous than concrete; however, any cracks or fissures already on the surface will allow rock salt and water to enter and cause the same internal damage from increased pressure on the material. It can also be affected by freeze-thaw damage, often revealed by bumps, pot holes and faded surface colour. It also becomes more brittle in lower temperatures, making it weaker overall.

The real cost of rock salt

It is estimated that around two million tonnes of rock salt are spread over the UK’s road network annually. This is done to help keep the country’s traffic moving during harsher weather, and to prevent injuries and deaths on the road from snow, frost and ice-based accidents.

It can be a tempting prospect for individuals and local authorities to go for the cheapest option for de-icing the roads. However, the actual cost of the whole operation can actually be far greater than if they had used safer alternatives, such as organic de-icers or old-fashioned ‘elbow grease’ to shift the ice and snow. Damage

to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure can cause significant delays. This can be from traffic building up behind a vehicle that has had an accident caused by a pot hole or crack and is now immobilised, awaiting the emergency services or roadside assistance, or from road closures and diversions put in place while damaged roads are repaired.

Such delays then have knock-on effects for people trying to get to business meetings, visit vulnerable family members, distribute stock to retail outlets or carry out home deliveries. Thus, threatening the wider UK economy at a time in history when it really needs to be kept as stable as possible, following the repercussions of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

Other issues to watch forcentral london roads

As well as the direct damage that rock salt causes the roads themselves, it can also prove devastating in other, associated ways. Affected areas can lose their aesthetics with increased numbers of cracks, pot holes and evidence of patched-up surface repairs. Many local authorities’ finances are already stretched dealing with urgent road repairs, with little to none left for restoring an area’s aesthetic appeal. Trees and plant life next to roads can also be put at risk, due to the rock salt entering the soil via melted ice and causing damage and harmful chemical changes to roots, water sources and wider ecosystems.

Then, there are the vehicles themselves. Rock salt that sprays up and sticks to the underside of a car, van or lorry can cause the surfaces it comes into contact with to corrode and weaken, thus adding to overall nation-wide costs with increased vehicle maintenance and repair bills. It is a good idea to wash the underside of your vehicle whenever you have been out in icy conditions to cut down on this risk of corrosion and damage.

Rock salt flying up into other modes of transport also affects motorcyclists and cyclists. They can be more susceptible to breathing in, or coming into direct contact with the rock salt and becoming unwell as a result. Breathing difficulties, skin irritation and stomach upsets can all be caused by exposure to sodium chloride. Cyclists and motorcyclists who ride through treated areas are advised to remove all outer clothing before they enter a house or building. Rock salt can cause burns to carpets, rugs and other floor coverings, so remove your boots or shoes at the door as well.

This advice also applies to pedestrians and people riding horses during icy weather. Horse riders should take extra care to ensure that the hooves and legs of their horses are wiped clean and checked regularly for any signs of irritation or injury

during winter months. Do this straight after every walk or whenever the horse has been exercised on or near surfaces that could have been treated with rock salt.

What’s the alternative?

The good news is that there is no need to stick to rock salt for de-icing icy roads and infrastructure. EcoGrit Concentrate is an organic, biodegradable and safe alternative that won’t damage surfaces or leak toxic chemicals into the ecosystem. The granules are non-corrosive, fine and highly effective, working at lower temperatures than rock salt for up to seven days. They will not harm children, pets, local plants or wildlife, making them ideal for use on any exterior surface. Additionally, because it’s soluble, it can be made into a spray to use on metal railings, drain covers and handrails.

EcoGrit Concentrate can be applied in advance of any ice appearing too, allowing you to prepare the roads for sub-zero temperatures in plenty of time. Find out more and order your supplies today at ecogrit.co.uk.

#SayNOtoRockSalt #SayYEStoEcoGrit #PowerToThePeople

Why you should say ‘NO’ to rock salt for de-icing

Rock salt has long been a common choice when it comes to clearing away ice and snow from outdoor surfaces, due to its affordability, availability and ease of application. However, the longer-term effects of using it are far from ideal and can outweigh any short-term benefits by a considerable margin.

Rock salt, or sodium chloride, contains strong chemicals that react with the ground and low temperatures to melt ice back into water. In so doing, it renders a slippery surface safer to walk or drive on in sub-zero temperatures. These chemicals can cause a great deal of harm, not just to the surfaces themselves, but to the people and animals walking on them, as well as the wider environment and ecosystem.

Why you should say ‘NO’ to rock salt for de-icing

As a country, Britain has long had a right to be proud of its strong civil engineering heritage, creating road networks and structures that have lasted for decades, if not centuries. Now, rock salt is putting this all at risk with its corrosive nature. Damage caused by excessive use of rock salt can lead to unusable roads, long traffic jams, compromised vehicles and risks to the economy if people cannot get where they need to be, or are held up or put off altogether from travelling for business.

Even if applying rock salt achieves an element of short-term ice melting success on the roads, the effects don’t last for long and are ineffective during heavy snow.

There is plenty of evidence around proving that sodium chloride can seriously damage all kinds of exterior surfaces and construction materials, including concrete, stone, brick and asphalt. It can cause cracks, chips and dips in the road that turn into pot holes and larger fractures that lead to tyre punctures and damage to a vehicle’s chassis.

Why you should say ‘NO’ to rock salt for de-icing

Rock salt can also be thrown up by moving vehicles and stuck to their underside. Over time, it weakens and corrodes the metal with which it has come into contact. Salt that has been spread on or near buildings and structures, such as bridges or steps, can also cause them serious harm if left on too long.

The wider environment

Quite apart from damaging surfaces, rock salt is also highly toxic for the environment and the delicate ecosystems that surround treated pavements, roads and driveways. Unlike other, granular de-icing products, rock salt is made of larger crystals that stay on the surface for ages while working to melt the ice beneath. It is not biodegradable, and the crystals tend to be walked, brushed or swept away by the melted ice into the surrounding soil and on into the groundwater beneath.

Just as we are all being encouraged to live more responsibly and sustainably through reduced use of plastics, lower food miles and smaller carbon footprints, so too must we take care when choosing how to de-ice our exterior surfaces and take account of where products end up after they have done their job.

Why you should say ‘NO’ to rock salt for de-icing

Once rock salt enters the groundwater, it alters the composition of the soil and can adversely affect the plants that rely on it for efficient growth. This kills them, or stunts their growth, thus reducing food and shelter options for the resident insects, birds and small animals.

Plants that have been damaged by rock salt show signs of underdevelopment, delayed budding, browning leaves and scorching. The salt can also enter nearby water sources, such as ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, thus affecting fish and other marine life. And, so it goes on, affecting and exposing the entire food chain to toxic risks.

Children and animals

It’s not just the wildlife that we must take care of and avoid exposing to rock salt. Our children and pets can be put in equal danger if we don’t take care of our actions when de-icing frosty surfaces. Pets such as cats and dogs have delicate paws that can be injured when they are overly exposed to rock salt. Taking a dog for a winter walk can end up with their paws sustaining painful burns or skin irritations after coming into contact with rock salt.

Symptoms of exposure include soreness, redness and itching. The crystals themselves are sharp too, which can break the skin’s surface and allow the chemicals to enter the bloodstream. Consequently, your pet’s blood sodium concentration could rise to dangerous levels, potentially leading to lethargy, thirst and kidney damage.

Why you should say ‘NO’ to rock salt for de-icing

Dogs and cats tend to be fastidious when it comes to personal hygiene and will lick themselves to keep clean. It is very hard to get rock salt out of fur, as it has a habit of

sticking to whatever surface it finds itself on. Many cats, dogs and even rabbits also enjoy drinking from puddles whenever they get the chance. This all leads on to rock salt entering their digestive tract and causing stomach upsets, vomiting, drooling and thirst. A whole range of problems that could end up with your pet suffering needlessly and your wallet taking a significant hit at the vet.

Children can also become unwitting victims of rock salt exposure. Contact with rock salt can lead to soreness, redness and irritation in people of all ages, causing additional problems for children with existing skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis. Children frequently put their hands to their face and mouth too, raising the risk of them ingesting the salt and experiencing stomach or digestive problems as a direct result.

Finally, children love to play in the frost and snow, and will be the first to throw snowballs, make snowmen and trek snow indoors on their boots and shoes, potentially spreading rock salt all over the house and adding to the housework burden. Rock salt can burn holes in carpets and rugs if walked inside. The key here is strict adherence to washing hands, removing boots, coats and gloves at the door and working to keep rock salt out of the home and away from people’s skin and mouths as much as possible.

What’s the alternative?

The good news is that there is no need to stick to rock salt for de-icing frosty and icy surfaces. EcoGrit Concentrate is an organic, biodegradable and safe alternative that won’t damage surfaces or leak toxic chemicals into the ecosystem. The granules are non-corrosive, fine and highly effective, working at lower temperatures than rock salt for up to seven days. They will not harm children, pets, local plants or wildlife, making them ideal for use on any exterior surface. Additionally, because it’s soluble, it can be made into a spray to use on metal climbing frames, drain covers and handrails.

EcoGrit Concentrate can be applied in advance of any ice appearing too, allowing you to prepare for sub-zero temperatures in plenty of time. Find out more and order your supplies today at ecogrit.co.uk.

#SayNOtoRockSalt #SayYEStoEcoGrit #PowerToThePeople

Rock Salt Alternatives

Rock salt alternatives that actually work

When the ice, frost and snow hit, it can be all too easy to rush out and buy the nearest thing you can find to deice the driveway, pavement or road. After all, you are probably in a hurry and all you want to do is get your vehicle out safely, or prevent yourself, your visitors or the general public from slipping over on the treacherous conditions underfoot.

However, while many people automatically reach for the rock salt or Himalayan salt to speed up the rate of snow melting, there are, in fact, many other rock salt alternatives out there that are gentler on surfaces and safe to leave down for longer to work their magic.

Deicing products work by lowering the freezing point of water. Any existing ice that they come into contact with melts back into the water. They then prevent further ice from forming, making surfaces such as concrete, tarmac and metal safer and easier to walk and drive on in sub-zero temperatures.

As deicing products remain on the surface until they are blown away or washed off by melting ice or rain, it is important that they are as safe as possible to any humans or animals who may come into contact with them. They should also be gentle enough not to damage the surface itself or any vehicles that come into contact with the treated areas.

Rock salt can be very dangerous to animals when ingested, as it can cause their blood sodium concentration to rise above normal levels. This can lead to lethargy, thirst and kidney damage. Rock salt can also be absorbed through their paws and skin.

In a bid to protect their precious animals, many people are now seeking safer alternatives that will not harm pets. Rock salt and other salts can also pose a risk to children if they, too, ingest it by mistake, as well as cause damage to the roots and foliage of nearby plants during the ice or snow melting process.

Five Rock Salt Alternatives for Deicing

Owners of pets and small children needn’t worry, however, as there are alternatives to rock salt for deicing available that do not pose such risks. Many are organic, naturally sourced and easy to spread and remove after the cold snap has passed.

Eco-friendly rock salt alternatives

Choosing a salt-free product such as EcoGrit means that you can benefit from effective deicing that will not harm the wider environment. EcoGrit offers a safer, gentler removal solution that doesn’t contain rock salt or urea that can damage surfaces, flora and fauna. I, What’s more, it does all of this while remaining extremely effective at getting rid of unwanted ice, frost and snow.

Rock Salt Alternatives - Ecogrit Ice Melt

Sand

This is a non-slip, easily affordable way to add some traction to an icy surface to prevent people, pets and vehicles from slipping and sliding in winter. Although putting down sand doesn’t actually melt the ice, it remains firmly in place once applied, so you don’t have to keep adding new layers. It is well worth keeping a bag of sand in the garage or boot of the car if weather forecasts are warning of icy conditions coming along.

The downsides of using sand on icy surfaces include the fact that it won’t melt away as EcoGrit will. This means that you are left with a load of sand to clear up or risk blocking the drains, once temperatures have risen again.

Gravel

In a similar way to sand, gravel, grit and other types of crushed stone materials do an excellent job of adding traction to the ground to make it easier to navigate. This type of rock salt alternatives won’t actually melt the ice, but stone grits can be mixed with a deicing product to gain dual benefits from spreading a mix of materials onto the driveway, pavement or road.

Again, putting gravel down creates the problem of having to take it all back up again after it has done its job, or risk causing drainage problems. Loose stones underfoot can also increase skidding risks for people and vehicles even without ice.

Straw

Putting down a layer of straw onto an icy surface will help prevent slips and trips too, as the straw will add friction to help people stay upright as they walk along. It is organic, safe for children and pets and won’t hurt any plants or damage the concrete underneath. Straw can also be brushed away more easily than sand or gravel once the sub-zero weather subsides. However, disadvantages include the fact that straw can often be muddy or dusty, leaving messy residue behind.

straw acts as a great rock salt alternative

Elbow grease

In cases where snow has built upon a pavement or driveway, getting out there as quickly as possible with a shovel to clear a pathway can mitigate against much of the potential chaos that could be caused by leaving it undisturbed. If snow is left too long, it can freeze and turn into a dangerously slippery and uneven surface. If it starts to melt and then re-freezes, this can also cause problems.

This is a great way to get rid of snow if you are strong enough to wield the shovel and have enough time to do a thorough job. For an easier, less time-intensive method, consider applying a layer of EcoGrit to kick start the melting process quickly and effectively while you relax indoors with a hot cup of tea.

Dealing with pavements

snow_on_the_pavement_sidewalk

Icy pavements are a common cause of winter accidents with people slipping over, skidding and generally finding it harder to stay upright when trying to walk along with them. However, while local government operating crews are responsible for winter maintenance and deicing, particularly treacherous or well-used sites, some people may think about clearing ice and snow from the pavements and surroundings around domestic properties or work buildings themselves.

There is no law in the UK to prevent you from clearing public sites and spaces in this way; however, you should be careful and responsible should you choose to do so using any rock salt alternatives for pavements. You should also take care of yourself to ensure that you don’t injure yourself while trying to clear the pavement.

Start early if you are going to clear any pavements, as it is far easier to remove freshly fallen snow before it has had a chance to freeze or become compacted by people walking on it. Never use hot water for snow or ice removal, as it will freeze itself if the temperatures are still at freezing or below and cause an even more dangerous slayer of ice to form.

Think about where you are going to put any snow that you have shovelled and make sure that it doesn’t block anyone else’s driveway or stop anyone from gaining access to the pavement or road. Take care not to fill or block drainage areas, such as gutters or drains when using rocksalt alternatives for pavements and don’t forget to pay attention to deicing steps, bridges and footpaths too.

Organic salt-free deicers

By choosing an organic salt-free deicer, you are helping to solve the problem of slippery ice sustainably and with an ecologically-friendly approach. Organic salt-free deicers offer a convenient, easy way to get rid of ice and are affordable and easy to get hold of.

It comes in sturdy bags for easy storage in the garage or shed. Keep a couple of bags in the boot of the car too, so that you are never stranded when away from home due to unexpected ice. They are far safer for animals and children too, and will not harm plants or trees as no salt will be absorbed into the surrounding soil following their use.

What is the lifetime for alternative rocksalts?

Alternatives to rock salt for deicing can be stored for years, work down to temperatures of minus 20 degrees C and ran remain effective for up to seven days once applied. You can add them before any ice forms too, as a preventative measure.

EcoGrit your way to safety this winter

EcoGrit offers a range of organic alternatives to rock salt for deicing, ranging from handheld shakers and spreaders containing ice melting granules to larger tubs of EcoGrit products, complete with a handy scoop for easy distribution and even the option to buy wholesale ice melt. Check out the product range now and get prepared for any icy conditions on the horizon.

Check out the range of Ice melt products Ecogrit has on offer:

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.