Tuesday, January 15, 2013

De-Icing That Treacherous Trail, the Quick and Easy Way

It worked!!!!

Yesterday I went out to take care of the treacherous trail leading up to the fenced in area of the backyard.  The ice was an inch thick in some places, and non-existent in others.  If I had brushed the slush away from the path while I had the chance, everything would have been easy.

But when have I ever done anything the easy way?

That ice had to be dealt with before I ended up breaking a hip or a knee on that trail.  Time for a simple DIY project, I believe!

Ice blankets the entire trail, with the exception of a brick that was left in the center... out of laziness.

Yesterday, I talked about two methods that I knew of for ice removal: salt and sand.  Salt was out, because it would harm the soil I'd be gardening in when spring arrives.  That left sand.

The application was simple.

Total time taken to add sand to the hill's trail was about 5 minutes, and I didn't use much sand or boiling water, at all.

Step 1:  
Grab a couple of large cups.  Make sure one is thermal.

Two thermal mugs: Red 16 ounce mug with handle on left and green 18 ounce mug on right.

Both of mine are thermal, but that's just because that was what I found.  Make sure the thermal mug has a lid.  In my case, that was the 18 ounce, green one.

Step 2:  
Fill a large cup with sand.

I filled the red, 16 ounce mug with sand.  You really don't need much if it's a small area.  The treacherous part of my trail only ran about ten feet, if that, and it's pretty narrow.

Step 3:  
Fill a kettle with water and let it boil.  Pour it into your mug and cover it with the lid.

Step 4:  
Bundle up and head outside to give that icy trail some traction!

The reason I wanted you to use a lid is twofold:

A.  It keeps the water hot, of course.
B.  Pouring through a spout gives you more control over how much water you use.  That's important.  There's no need to waste water, after all!

You only need to use enough to melt a tiny bit of ice.  A mere trickle.  Have the sand standing by, so that you can sprinkle it on top immediately, then go to all of the problem areas.

Step 5: 
As you allow the boiled water to trickle out of the mug, sprinkle small amounts of sand over the area immediately after the water hits the ice.  This will ensure sand gets frozen into that top layer, providing traction.

Do this along the entire trail, ensuring that you cover all of the most treacherous areas.

Pay close attention to "bumps" in the ice, and cover them well.  They seem to have a magical property that pulls feet onto them.  Well, that's what happens to my feet, at least...

I didn't cover the entire trail, only centering on the spots that I knew I'd step on.  All I used was the amount of sand that I placed in the red mug.

I went over the long patch that was almost entirely iced over, then walked around the area to ensure it was covered well enough.

Sand sprinkled in 4 nicely spaced areas of the large path segment.  Three sections near the edge, and one section above those.

I also covered the unavoidable large step toward the top that was covered with and inch thick layer of ice in the center.

Sand almost entirely covering a step in the trail.

After spending some time testing the traction, I was satisfied - and I even had water remaining!

So I went inside to use the remaining water in the green mug, as well as water in the kettle, to make a nice cup of organic Earl Grey to warm myself.

A tea bag floating within the filled green thermal mug, with a kettle sitting off to the side.

De-icing a treacherous trail without using salt is quick and easy.  Sand does no harm, and can be cleared and used in next season's garden.

Mission complete!

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