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

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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

I donít use anything on my brick pavers, so I canít 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 doesnít flow back onto the pavement and freeze ó a trick I learned growing up in New England.

Still, Cohen thought I should give ice-melt cleanup a go, column-wise, so hereís what Iíve 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 ó or any concrete surface.

Products with the active ingredient calcium magnesium acetate are recommended for use on concrete pavers. E.P. Henryís website lists two of these products ó 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, Iíve 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, Iíd 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 ó 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 ó Iím 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.