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Ten Ways To Melt Ice

Updated on December 12, 2013

Removing Ice for Safety

Snow and ice can be wonderful. Snow is beautiful to look at and fun to play in. Ice is fun to skate on. When it comes to safety though, snow and ice on your sidewalks, steps or driveway can be dangerous.

If you live where it gets below freezing and where there is moisture like rain or snow, you know the importance of removing ice for safety. I have lived different places, but all of the places I have lived have needed ice removal at times. This winter here where I live was warmer than usual and drier than normal. We only got a couple of dustings of snow. There wasn't enough snow to shovel. If you had to go out early in the morning before it warmed up, you could easily sweep the snow away from your sidewalk and driveway. If you went out later in the day the sun had already melted the snow off from the sidewalks, so I think the sun is the number one best and easiest way to remove ice and snow. Unfortunately you can't count on the sun being out long enough to melt the snow or ice you may have to deal with.

The winter of 2010-2011 was different. One afternoon while I was at work it snowed. It had rained previously and then got cold. The rain turned to ice and then the snow fell on it. By the end of the day it was so cold and there was no hope for help from the sun to melt the snow and ice. The office manager and I were the only ones left in the office at the end of the day. As it came close to quitting time, I got nervous about walking down the steps out the back door. I went in the back room looking for something to clear off the steps. I took a broom and tried to sweep off the snow. It wouldn't budge as it was already frozen. I went to get the snow shovel which still didn't work very well since the snow was already turning to ice. The office manager told me to wait. She went in the back and brought out a chemical ice melt. She sprinkled it up and down the steps and sidewalk. We had to wait a few minutes for the ice melt to work, but it started to melt the snow and ice and we safely made it down the steps and to our cars to go home.

Over the years of my life I've tried many different ways to remove ice and snow. Sometimes as a young mother I wished that I had known more about the pros and cons of different snow removal methods. I was on my own raising three children right after Mt. Saint Helens erupted. That winter was a particularly snowy, stormy winter. I learned a lot about snow and ice removal that year. Since then I have learned about more methods of removing snow and ice, so I am sharing my experiences with snow removal and what I have learned here.

If you are fortunate enough to have a great neighbor who will shovel off your sidewalk or driveway like I had with the recent snowstorm we just had, then you might not benefit from this information. If you have to deal with snow and ice on your own, hopefully you might find a few new ideas here to help you.

Let the Sun Do It

I like living where we get a little bit of snow. It's enough to look beautiful and maybe create a snowman if you hurry, but it is easy to sweep off or shovel off the snow and let the sun melt the rest. It is hard to find a place to live where the weather is always like that. Even though it usually is that way where I live it can get cold and ice and snow can be a problem. Still I like the days when I get up to see snow on the ground, but before I go out the sun has melted it off from the sidewalks and the driveway.

Best Way to Remove Ice

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Use Salt

As a young child care provider I needed to keep my front steps free of ice and snow. Usually I could sweep or shovel them off and let the sun do the rest. Some days though the snow was too deep and the temperatures were too cold for that to work. I knew that salt would melt the ice so I cleared off as much snow as I could and I sprinkled regular table salt on the steps. It got rid of the ice, but over time it started to affect the cement steps with the freezing and thawing and the steps eventually started to crumble. It wasn't so great for the plants close to the steps either. Rock salt is sold for clearing ice and snow and is cheaper than table salt, but it doesn't work quite as fast.

Use Cat Litter

If I have tried to sweep or shovel snow off the sidewalk and I can't get all of it off, I like to use regular clay cat litter. It provides traction and it is darker in color so it absorbs the sun and helps to melt the snow or ice below it. I like to keep a bag of cat litter in the trunk of my car during the winter as I could use it to help my car get traction on snow or ice too.

Use a Heat Torch

I've never used a heat torch to clear away ice or snow, but I have read of using one. It would be a fast way to get rid of ice, but it would probably cause problems with the change in temperatures to the sidewalk or steps.

Use a Chloride Ice Melt

Chemical ice melts work well and relatively quickly. Chloride based ones are the most commonly available. They are usually less expensive than acetate based ones. I truly appreciated the ice melt we had at work the one day the ice formed from rain before snow fell and the temperatures remained well below freezing. It was wonderful that the ice could be melted so the steps weren't so dangerous to walk down.

Use Heat Cables

Heat Cables will involve the use of electricity to melt the ice, but where ice and snow can cause real damage, they can be invaluable. I have seen them available for use on the roof and gutters, but they may also be used for sidewalks and other areas. I've never used them, but they may be worth the cost in certain areas and situations.

Use Sand

I like using sand because it is free. Our soil where I live is very sandy. There is a lot of sand around. The wind blows piles of it into my driveway, so it seems that there is always sand close at hand. I can shovel some sand on ice and snow and it provides traction immediately. As the sun shines on the sand it heats it up and helps melt the snow and ice quicker where the sand has been scattered.

Use Acetate Ice Melt

Acetate Ice Melt works well on melting snow and ice. It doesn't harm the environment. It is better for surrounding plants than many other methods of ice removal. It does cost more than most ice melts, so the cost versus the effect on the environment has to be considered.

Use Liquid Ice Melt

Liquid Ice Melt is a fast effective way to remove ice. Some liquids can be sprayed on before a storm is expected and can help prevent ice from forming or snow from sticking. Most are safe for the environment.

Use Hot Water

Hot water was one of my first methods of removing ice from my front steps. I boiled some water in a kettle and poured it on the steps. It melted the ice away quickly. I didn't realize though the effect that the extreme temperature change would have on the cement steps. Eventually the steps began to break down and crack and crumble. Hot water worked one time on warming my car up enough to start too. If you don't have anything else hot water may help temporarily.

Videos with Different Ways to Remove Ice and Snow

Easier ways to remove snow and ice are wonderful to learn about especially when it is cold and icy and you face clearing your sidewalk and driveway. There are some pretty amazing new ways to melt ice. I selected these videos that have some interesting and different ways to melt snow and ice. Maybe you'll find a new way that you hadn't thought of before to melt your snow and ice.

What has been your most effective way of melting ice?

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