While several ice melt manufacturers tout “green” or eco-friendly blends, there are few green-certified ice melters on the market. Currently, the only third-party green product certifier for ice melt is through the U.S. EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Program.

A spokesperson for the EPA DfE Program says there are about 24 trade name green ice melt products made by nine companies, with a mix of institutional and consumer product uses.

According to the requirements, an ice melt product under DfE is one that melts ice and snow at temperatures below the freezing point of water, and not a product that simply aids traction like sand.

To meet the qualifications for green certification, an ice melt product must show a reduction in sodium and chloride use of at least 30 percent and meet the Pacific Snow Fighters’ criteria for product performance and reduction in corrosivity to steel. To be acceptable, a corrosion-inhibition chemical product must have a percent effectiveness values of at least 70 percent less than sodium chloride, the website says.

As with all DfE-labeled products, ice melt must meet the requirements in the DfE Standard for Safer Products, including their safer ingredient criteria, and in addition the DfE supplemental criteria for ice melts specifically.

Currently, DfE-certified ice melt:

• Cannot contain cyanide as an anti-caking agent;
• Must function at temperatures less than zero degrees Fahrenheit; and
• Be labeled under a DfE partnership agreement in which the product manufacturer has agreed to a customer education/training plan to ensure proper product use and application and use. 

“The primary benefit of a DfE-labeled ice melt is the decrease in sodium and chloride that would be released to the environment during use, excesses or imbalances of these chemicals in the environment can be harmful to animal and plant life,” an EPA spokesperson says. “The DfE label also assures that the product would not contain problematic ingredients, like cyanide for anti-caking.”  

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