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Driveway Ice – What’s the Best Weapon?0

This winter has proven time and again to be no day at the beach. And that’s despite plenty of time spent with sand and shovels. But I’m not talking about tropical beaches with warm breezes, salt air, and sunshine. I’m talking ice, ice, and more ice.

Our driveway is on the north side of our house bound by a tall hedge.  Picture an L-shaped, dogleg drive that wraps around the back of the house; it’s tight and covered in permafrost from November through March. Plus it’s on an incline.

The winter elements have challenged us to explore a variety of ice melters – rock salt, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride. All have different melting qualities, effectiveness and, of course, escalating prices as the difficult winter wears on.

But what we’ve found to be pretty much as effective as any of these fancier ice melters is ordinary traction sand reclaimed from the public works department’s annual winter maintenance of our street.

Each spring we rake about an inch of sand off the stretch of our front yard adjacent to the curb. Then we shovel up 5 inches from the gutter for a total of 6 wheel barrow loads of reclaimed sand. We fill buckets to store under the porch for the following winter’s use and pile the remaining sand out back behind the forsythia under a tarp. We’ve been down there 4 times already this winter to refill the buckets – an all-time record.

Yes, sand is only good for temporary traction. But it’s free and for the amount of ice we’ve had to deal with this season, it’s a major weapon in our arsenal as winter warriors.

text by Ann D. Travers

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