Snow shovels, snowblowers, and plows can handle snow, but not ice. A small covering of snow can cause dangerous slips and falls.
To minimize slip-and-fall accidents, most towns compel citizens to maintain their public walkways clear of ice. If you live anywhere that snows, keep ice melt on hand.
To locate the best snow and ice melts, we tested many. We also asked Don Adams, general manager of Regional Foundation Repair, and Russell J. Kendzior, of the National Floor Safety Institute, for their input (NFSI).
Overall best ice melt
6300 Enviro-Blend Ice Melter melts ice down to -10°F and costs roughly 50 cents per pound.
- Ingredients: MG-104, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride
- -10° F
Pros: EPA approved “Safer Choice” with a catalyst to prevent refreezing
Don Adams, our ice melt expert, recommended potassium chloride. This chloride blend also contains a melting catalyst (MG-104) to assist it work on a variety of surfaces and avoid refreezing.
To make it even safer, Safe Step 6300 contains no cyanide as a caking agent and works successfully at temperatures below the freezing point of water.
Safe Step Enviro-Blend, like other Safe Step products, comes in a variety of sizes and containers.
Budget ice melt
Snow Joe Professional Strength Calcium Chloride Pellets are an affordable solution that nonetheless work well and break down ice in temperatures as low as -25°F.
- Calcium chloride
- -25° F
Pros: Low cost, effective at subzero temps
Cons: Excessive use can harm plants.
These 94 percent calcium chloride pellets are designed to melt ice rapidly and effectively upon contact. Its outstanding 24-hour effectiveness means you won’t need to reapply as often, and it works in temperatures as low as -25°F.
This melt is the cheapest per pound on our list, and the resealable bag makes it convenient to keep. After opening the bag, store your pellets in an airtight container for safety and convenience.
Roof ice melt
Our expert recommends Safe Step 8300 Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt to melt dangerous ice on your roof while protecting your shingles.
- Magnesium chloride
- -15° F
Cons: Leaves no white residue, does not burn skin
Don Adams, our roofing expert, says Safe Step is the best brand of magnesium chloride melts. Unlike sodium chloride, these granules won’t damage your roof’s shingles. It won’t leave a white residue on your boots or track inside because it dissolves completely.
Safe Step 8300 works in cold weather. Although it’s claimed to be non-irritating, the product safety statement advises washing hands after usage.
Doggie ice melt
Prevent ice buildup using PlaySafe Ice Blocker instead of chloride-based ice melts.
- Ingredient: Magnesium acetate
- -15° F
Cons: Unlike ice melting pellets, one gallon is safer for dogs.
Cons: Must be used before to snowfall, separate pump sprayer
This product isn’t actually an ice melt; it’s an ice “blocker.” Its lack of chlorides makes it the safest solution for your dogs. As a liquid instead of a pellet or rock, it’s easier for your pups to handle.
While not as convenient as pellets, this liquid product can be used with a little preparation. Pour the ingredients into a pump sprayer and use to prevent ice formation. You’ll need to keep an eye on the weather and prepare for snowfalls, but it’s worth it if you have pets.
Other ideas we had
Quikrete All-Purpose Sand If you want to prevent harming your pets or the environment, or if you have recently built concrete (anything less than a year old is prone to ice melt damage), you should use sand to melt ice. Sand won’t melt the ice, but it will help you walk or drive over it. This Home Depot bag is only a few bucks and should get you going.
Snow & Ice Melt Pellets: Its 93 percent calcium chloride pellets look to be fast-acting and effective, but its expensive price and limited availability kept it off our list. This could be a wonderful choice for you if you’re willing to pay the hefty price and use it in extremely cold weather (-40°F).
Using ice-melt as
This depends on your situation and where you want to deice. For a concrete driveway versus a shingled roof, you’ll need various solutions.
We interviewed Don Adams, general manager of Regional Foundation Repair, and Russell J. Kendzior, of the National Floor Safety Institute, as well as hundreds of other specialists (NFSI). They discussed the pros and cons of various ice melts. Adams advised Safe Step potassium chloride ice melts in general.
FAQs about ice melt
What types of ice melt are there?
There are six salts used to melt ice, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Most products utilize a mix of two or more salts, but the best salt for you will depend on your climate and usage.
- One of the most popular alternatives is calcium chloride (CaCl2), which acts swiftly at -40°F. Too much can harm plants and grass.
- Magnesium chloride is considered eco-friendly and safe for dogs. It reduces the freezing point of water to -13°F. It can damage concrete, asphalt, and plants.
- Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is less corrosive than chloride salts, although it only works at temperatures over 20°F.
- Cheap rock salt is fantastic, but it has some drawbacks: It corrodes surfaces, is toxic to pets, and is ineffective at low temperatures.
- Potassium chloride is safer for dogs, but harmful for plants and grass, and only works at temps over 25°F.
- The safest alternative for pets and the environment is urea/carbonyl diamide, although it is ineffective for deicing.
What types of ice melt exist?
- SALT GRANULES They’ll be terrific traction and clean up easily in the spring.
- Pellets penetrate ice better than granules, however they tend to slide down hills or off walkways and driveways. They’re more effective than granules due to their size and density, although they migrate.
- Liquids are the quickest acting. These use a spray sprayer and come in concrete and pet-safe versions.
Which ice melt for concrete?
It is not a common opinion, but Adams recommends potassium chloride as an ice melt for concrete. It takes longer to melt than other melts, allowing the liquid to evaporate. This decreases water absorption by the concrete, preventing unsightly fissures.
Notably, any ice melt can harm your concrete. According to Kendzior, any chloride-based chemical will penetrate the porous surface of concrete and destroy it. “They work quickly but harm.”
Adams said that after applying an ice melt, it’s necessary to promptly remove the melted ice. “Leaving muck on your driveway or walkway is bad for your concrete,” he warned. A freeze-thaw cycle will cause further damage to your concrete.
Which ice melt for asphalt?
Adams recommends sodium chloride, popularly known as “rock salt,” as an asphalt ice melt. This is the deicer you see on roads and highways during snowstorms. Adams said that it’s also less expensive than other ice melts and works well on gravel. While asphalt isn’t completely impervious to harm, it is more resistant to chloride-based ice melts than concrete.
Ice melt for pets?
“Pet-safe” is a broad term, but any ice melt is possibly dangerous to your pets. CaCl2 and NaCl can irritate and burn their paws. Most melts are hazardous if consumed, so keep them away from your pets. Adams advised prudence when storing ice melt.
Is ice melt eco-friendly?
Large amounts of ice melt are bad for the ecosystem. According to Kendzior, “huge volumes of deicing chemicals might react with other substances in the water, harming fish and wildlife.” That’s why you should only use as much as you need and avoid spreading it in vegetation.
What’s the difference between ice melt for roofs and driveways?
Adams recommends magnesium chloride for roofs because it is less likely to damage shingles than other ice melt choices like sodium chloride. He emphasized that, unlike sodium chloride, magnesium chloride will not harm your lawn or landscaping if it leaks from your roof.
If you don’t want to use ice melt on your roof, a roof rake might help avoid snow and ice buildup.
Can you produce your own ice?
Yes, you can prepare an efficient ice melt with items you probably already have. In order to de-ice smaller surfaces, such as a walkway or windshield, Adams suggests combining isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) with warm water and dish soap. It’s also safer for your dogs.
To destroy vegetation and harm sidewalks or driveways, Kendzior suggests using normal table salt.
How is ice melt used?
Apply a thin layer of ice or snow melt on concrete. Consider a wheeled spreader like this one from Scotts if you’re covering more than a short walkway or driveway.
The most important thing to know about ice melt is that it works best when applied prior to a storm.
Clear snow from the surface with a shovel or a snow blower.