Your Place: Ice-melt products stained pavers; what to do?

Posted: April 13, 2014

The ever-genial Mitch Cohen, of Cohen Hardware in Queen Village, e-mailed me recently, reporting that many customers were asking him how to get ice melt's white residue out of their brick pavers.

I don't use anything on my brick pavers, so I can't speak from experience. And when I shovel the sidewalks and the driveway, I remove snow from the lawn in a six-inch strip along both edges, so any that melts stays in the yard and doesn't flow back onto the pavement and freeze - a trick I learned growing up in New England.

Still, Cohen thought I should give ice-melt cleanup a go, column-wise, so here's what I've learned.

Anchor Block, of Minnetonka, Minn., reminds homeowners that sodium chloride (rock salt) and calcium chloride will melt snow and ice, but it can harm pavers - or any concrete surface.

Products with the active ingredient calcium magnesium acetate are recommended for use on concrete pavers. E.P. Henry's website lists two of these products - EnvironMelt and Majestic Snow and Ice Melt.

As advice goes, this next piece is a little late: Aldon Chemical, a manufacturer of paver sealer, says that if a sealer is applied, ice-melt chemicals should not be able to stain pavers or the sealer. Test the chosen ice-melt against a small sealed section first. If the sealer shows staining or damage (it should not), it is easily repaired.

To remove white residue, I've seen power washing, oxygenated bleach, and white vinegar recommended. If you try them, let me know how they worked for you.

For better traction on brick pavers, I'd recommend spreading sand on them. Towns up north often use a mixture of sand and calcium magnesium acetate on roads.

I once used cat litter on the sidewalks - the "ice at night" winter of 1994, when they ran out of salt in January. But the stuff is too easily tracked inside.

At my house, I try to keep ice-melt use to a minimum - I'm sure it causes environmental damage. What I use is a product designed not to cause pain to those with paws, and it does work: Safe Paw salt-free ice melt.


aheavens@phillynews.com or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.

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