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My girlfriend had a new driveway put in this fall, but the weather turned bad before she could get it sealed. I guess now it's too late...

The driveway is incredibly slippery and has lots of ice at this point, but she's worried that using rock salt on the driveway would ruin it. She also has a dog and is worried about what is dog safe...

So is there anything we can get that won't damage the pavement and is dog-friendly?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I don't believe rock salt is actually harmful to unsealed asphalt (assuming that's what the driveway is made of). I used it for several years on the unsealed asphalt driveway at my old house and never had problems. It doesn't look pretty, and while it's in use the driveway will of course have white splotches all over it, but those will wash off in the spring and be covered then if she does get it sealed.

Asphalt sealing is mainly to keep water from getting into cracks or voids in the driveway where it can freeze and worsen the cracks or cause new ones.

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+1 I'd just use rock salt and grit, and then use a pressure washer in the spring when the ice has all gone away. Then seal it on a cool dry day. –  Tom O'Connor Dec 10 '10 at 18:07
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Salt can be a problem if the daytime temp is between 0-32F and the night temp is below 0F, as it'll cause additional freeze-thaw cycles, which has the problems you mentioned w/ getting into cracks. If the temperature swings enough that it goes from +32F in the day to 0F at night, this doesn't matter, though, as you already have the problem. (and if you're crossing 0F each night anyway, salt's a problem as rather than the ice staying frozen, it re-forms a smooth sheet each night making things more trecherous, unless it manages to evaporate during the day) –  Joe Dec 10 '10 at 20:55
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Personally, I like to use sand. I keep a large barrel of it inside the garage door. Yes, it can be dragged inside the house on shoes, but then so can salt or anything else. When I come inside, I take off my shoes, so no problem there. I've used it under the tires of those people who occasionally get stuck on our road when it is icy.

Sand absolutely does not hurt plants, or the paws of your four legged friends, and it cleans up in the spring with a broom or a hose.

Sand is cheap too, especially if your town maintenance department lets you use their supply. (Make sure you don't use sand with rock salt mixed in already.) You can also buy what they call tube sand - coarse sand in a burlap bag. Its used around here typically as weight in the back of cars and pickups. When the bag gets old and starts to leak, I'll use that sand to spread on our driveway.

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