Ice Melt Products,
Pets, and Kids
Crystals and granules
intended to melt ice and snow keep walkways safe. But, like
many useful chemicals, they can cause problems if they are misused.
chemicals commonly contain sodium chloride or rock salt, calcium
chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, and/or urea, also
known as carbonyl diamide. (Products intended to provide traction,
instead of melting ice or snow, include sand, gravel, kitty litter,
and wood ash.) These ice-melting chemicals lower the freezing point of water.
Applying them on top of a layer of ice or snow results in slush. The
slush then can be shoveled or pushed off the walkway.
Sodium chloride, the same
thing as table salt, and calcium chloride are the products most
often used by homeowners. The amount to use depends on the type of
chemical. Labels will tell you how much product to use per foot or
yard of surface. More is not better! Recommended amounts will
produce the maximum effect with the minimum amount of damage to
plants, concrete, cement, soil, and water.
The poison center gets
many calls about children who put ice melting crystals into their
mouths. Usually, this does not cause problems. BUT, some of these
chemicals can cause irritation; a child may develop a rash, redness
inside the mouth, or drooling. If a child swallows a piece of rock
salt or another ice melting crystal, wipe out the child’s mouth,
give a small glass of milk or water, and wash the child’s hands and
face. Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
Pets can develop dryness
and irritation on their paws and skin if they walk through ice
melting chemicals. Wipe all of the product off their paws and fur as
soon as they come inside. Then, wash carefully to remove any
residue. Pets can develop mouth irritation if they eat the chemicals
or the resulting melt-water. They may even swallow enough sodium or
calcium to poison themselves. If a pet develops drooling, vomiting,
seizures, or other symptoms, call the veterinarian right away.