A couple of weeks ago I posted a story about tips for snow shoveling.  I've found that applying ice melter is a good companion to clearing off sidewalks and driveways.

Flickr / slgckgc

Too bad this isn't about the Beatles song, "Here Comes the Sun."  The snow is on the way with crazy cold temperatures due for Friday.  So you know, whatever falls from the sky is going to flash freeze to ice.

Here's what you need to know.

First, there are some downsides about ice melter.

Most ice melters will turn snow and ice into a salty brine that may damage grass along your walkway.  The major problem for me is most of these products are not pet friendly.  Tracked inside your house, most melters can wreak havoc on carpets and floors.

It's recommended that magnesium chloride is the safest, and also very effective.  It will not harm pets and plants.

The most common ice melters are sodium chloride (plain old rock salt), calcium chloride, and, the pet and plant friendly magnesium chloride.

Here's what you need to do.

First, pre-treat the pavement before the storm hits.  This way you'll need less deicer to throw down after you shovel.

Here are the most common options.

Sodium chloride (rock salt).  It's the most inexpensive.  It's not good for the environment or pets and is not effective for temperatures below 15 degrees.

For super cold weather it's calcium chloride.  It works to minus 15 degrees.  A fifty pound bag will cost about twenty dollars.

And there's a magnesium product that's fairly new on the market.  It's environmentally friendly.  It's the most expensive of the choices, running about thirty dollars for a fifty pound bag.

I hope this will make life a bit easier for you as we start the new year.

OH, and by the way, have a very happy and healthy 2014!