CINCINNATI — It's been a busy few days at Ace Hardware in Oakley, where jugs and bags of ice-melter have been flying off the shelves.
Shopper Amanda Baker said it's been a long time since she needed to use any, due to the warm winter until now.
"I hadn't even thought about it, she said. "I think we have some left over from last year...maybe."
Ace manager John Doucleff said the good news is that prices have not gone up this year, and that products have gotten much better at melting ice and keeping pets safe.
This is one case where you don't want to go cheap. The problem with rock salt, the cheapest melter, is that it becomes ineffective below 20 degrees, and is bad for dogs and cats due to its clumping nature.
"Newer products do not dry out your dog's foot pads, causing them to crack and bleed," he said.
His best seller is a product called Qik Joe, a mix of calcium chloride, which is stronger and safer than sodium chloride, more commonly called rock salt.
It is similar to the best selling Prestone Driveway Heat. Both products claim effectiveness down to 20 below zero.
If you have dogs or cats outdoors, he suggests Safe Step. It is nowadays almost as effective as the stongest melters, but will not cause pet problems.
Which type is best?
If you are buying ice melt, you will probably find a confusing array of choices (unless the store is just down to one of two bags).
Based on results of three separate "Don't Waste Your Money" comparisons in recent years, here is what we found:
- 1st Place: Calcium Chloride Pellets ("Prestone Driveway Heat," "Fire and Ice," "Qik Joe," others).
- 2nd Place: Environmentally Safe Melters ("Safe Step," "Morton Pet Safe," others).
- 3rd Place: Rock Salt, a great value but simply not effective below 15 degrees.
Of course, if you waited too long, stores may be out of the best melters, and you will have to take what you can get.
And if they are completely out, a grocery jug of Morton's table salt can work too on those slippery front steps.
As always, don't waste your money.
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