Winter is one of the prettiest and most magical times of the year. Kids and adults alike love to experience the pristine glow of freshly fallen snowdrifts. But winter can also be precarious, and it can make it difficult to navigate your home.
Ice melts can help melt the ice in your driveway, garage, or yard. They're an extremely effective way to help you get out of the driveway and onto your adventures. We've taken a look at some of the top market choices. These are our favorites.
Top 5 : Best Ice Melts
Best Gardening Blogs
This 35-pound bucket of ice melt is the top choice if you want something that's safe for your plants, children, and pets. The non-toxic formula has been approved for use by veterinarians. It also doesn't cause damage to your concrete, so you can use it on your porch and patio.
Many ice melts use materials that can be harmful if they come in contact with your skin. That's not the case here. You don't need to worry about touching the material, and you don't have to worry it will damage your lawn or patio. In fact, it's even safe to ingest. The formula is completely free of chloride and salt.
Most non-toxic formulas don't melt at very low temperatures. But the Safe Paw formula is specially built to melt quickly and effectively at temperatures as low as -2 F. In addition, the material is biodegradable, so it easily runs into your yard and breaks down.
In addition to being non-corrosive, this melt is also non-conductive. It won't damage machinery or short circuit your electronics. There's no need to worry about damage to your property. The long shelf life allows you to use the melt through multiple seasons, so it doesn't matter whether your winter is mild or severe!
There's also a good spread rate. You don't need to coat your entire driveway in the stuff in order for it to work. The bucket has enough to take you through several snowfalls, whether you're sprinkling the material over a large or small area.
This 20-pound bucket of ice melt will take care of ice in temperatures down to -15 F, so it's a great choice if you live in a colder area. In addition, it doesn't have any potentially toxic magnesium chloride.
The formula utilizes patented accelerators to melt ice faster. Studies have shown that the formula is better at melting ice than a blend containing 50 percent calcium chloride.
The particle size is optimized to help you spread it more easily. You get a better, more controlled spread ratio, so you can use the product more efficiently.
The anti-caking agents in the formula help the material to flow more easily. You can spread it evenly without worrying about clumps. This also increases the shelf life. A non-staining indicator of the coverage will tell you where you've placed the melt. You can wash it away with water when you're done.
The mixture uses 10 percent calcium chloride, which can melt at very low temperatures.
Best Electric Snow Blowers
This 25-pound bag of ice melter is pet friendly and environmentally friendly. It uses more natural ingredients than many formulas. The materials are unlikely to corrode your skin or irritate your pet's paws.
Since there's no residue left behind, you can use it on gardens, grass, trees, and turf. As long as you follow the instructions, you can preserve your landscaping without damage.
You can use this product without needing protective gear. There's also an anti-caking agent in the formula that makes it easier to spread while extending the shelf life.
The blended formula is enhanced using calcium magnesium acetate, which can quickly de-ice surfaces at cold temperatures. At the same time, it doesn't damage metals or concrete. You can also use the formula to keep snow and ice from accumulating before a storm.
This concentrated melter comes in a 9.5 pound bag, but you don't need much of it at all. The pellet melt formula removes moisture from the ice and snow. That allows it to melt the materials faster than the competition.
You can melt ice and snow at temperatures of -25 F. It works faster than most blends of salt and de-icing agents. As long as you use it properly, it won't harm your concrete. It also won't leave residue behind or harm your plants.
Best Greenhouse Kits
This ice melt is a good choice if you want a natural, pet-safe de-icer. The formula is designed to provide traction as it melts. In addition, the blend is up to 3.5 times more potent than salt alone.
The formula is good for pets and kids since it is free of dyes, polymer, and urea. A single bag treats 400 square feet.
Our top pick overall is the Safe Paw melt. This formula can work in temperatures of -2 F, and it doesn't use any salt or chloride. In addition, it's been approved for use by veterinarians because it doesn't pose any danger to pets. It's even biodegradable, so it will run into your lawn and break down without harming your plants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ice melts use chemistry to do their magic. Different compounds are made up of different chemical components, but they generally work the same way. The compounds cause water to have a lower freezing temperature, so the ice and snow melt. This also keeps them from freezing again.
Different ice melts are optimized for different purposes. There are some that will soak through thick layers of snow and ice to create a brine, which can be easily shoveled away. You might also use a melt that creates a softer slush, which can be swept aside.
Salt has been used to melt ice for hundreds of years. But there are certain chemical mixtures that can be even more effective. That said, some chemical mixtures aren't safe for use around pets and might be poisonous to plants and wildlife. Some are even damaging to concrete.
The compound you use will become less effective at a certain temperature. This is because if the temperature drops below the new freezing point, the substance won't be able to melt the ice. The majority of commercial melts will work at 25 F, with some working at up to -25 F.
You can see whether a melt is working effectively by leaving it for about 20 minutes, and then coming back. Almost every type of melt comes with potential drawbacks, so it's vital that you understand the risks before making an investment. You want the one that's best and safest for your household.
There are different ice melt formulas made up of a variety of compounds. It's easiest to distinguish them by their active ingredients. These are the ingredients that lower the freezing point of water, allowing the ice and snow to melt.
Rock salt is the oldest method and the most common one. It's a tried-and-true option that tends to be easy on the budget. However, there are some significant drawbacks. One is that salt takes a while to work. Another is that salt won't be nearly as effective if the temperature drops below 20 F.
It's common for ice melts to use a combination of rock salt with other materials. This allows the snow to melt faster and at lower temperatures. At the same time, the price stays relatively low, since salt is inexpensive to mix into a formula.
Rock salt has a crystal structure that looks similar to rocks. It's also commonly used to de-ice the roads by snowplows. However, there will be a powdery residue left behind by the sodium. In addition, if too much salt runs off with the water, it can have an adverse effect on plants.
Calcium chloride is extremely effective, with the ability to melt snow at temperatures as low as -25 F. You can purchase this option in a variety of forms, including:
It is extremely effective, but it also tends to be pricey. Plant fertilizers often have trace amounts of this substance. However, if plants are exposed to too much of it, they might yellow. In addition, calcium chloride has some corrosive properties that can cause concrete pitting or rusting in certain metals.
Potassium chloride has the capacity to melt at temperatures of 12 F and above. Urea, a similar chemical, can melt at 15 F. These two products are often found in fertilizers and are safe to use around vegetation, so you can use them on your lawn and garden.
If you do use potassium chloride, just keep in mind that it can affect your soil. You might need to rebalance the nutrient levels in the soil to keep the potassium levels from being too high for your plants.
Magnesium chloride is a flaky white substance that will melt snow and ice at 5 F and above. It is a less corrosive substance than sodium chloride. You can use it with plants more easily than sodium chloride and calcium chloride. The melting process tends to start quickly, but it can taper off as the substance dilutes.
One thing to note about magnesium chloride is that it does have some corrosive properties. If you use it for several winters in a row, it will eventually begin to pit your concrete. However, it will not do nearly as much damage to concrete as calcium chloride would in the same time period.
Sodium acetate is the most commonly used melting substance on runways. It can melt ice at 0 F and above. The exothermic nature of the material means that as the compound dissolves, it creates heat. Since it comes in a powder form, it can be spread over wide spaces with small quantities.
The ability to use a small amount on a large space is part of what makes it popular for runways. Another thing that makes it popular is the exothermic reaction. This helps to melt the ice more effectively by heating the ground and surrounding snow. It makes the runway safer for pilots to use for takeoff.
There's another type of acetate called calcium magnesium acetate. This is used on old highways in certain parts of the US. Instead of melting ice, it's preemptively spread over the roads to keep ice from forming. When it is put on ice, the molecules of the ice stop sticking together.
When the ice stops sticking, it turns into slush instead of a slippery sheet. This makes it easier for tires to gain traction on the roadways, which is especially important on old roads. It's also unlikely to damage metals or roads. The compound is considered ecologically safe, but animals don't like the smell.
If you're looking for a concrete melt, calcium magnesium acetate is an ideal choice. Since it doesn't have corrosive properties, it won't pit the surface of your concrete. It also won't harm your plants or animals. Your dog might not want to walk anywhere near it, though!
Glycol ice melts use glycol to melt snow and ice. There are two main types.
The first type is ethylene glycol. This substance will often be used to de-ice airplanes. Part of what makes it so good for aircraft is that it melts ice at up to -58 F, so it can work even in cold temperatures above the ground. But because the material is poisonous to animals and humans, it should only be used on the exterior of a plane.
The second type is propylene glycol. This material is not toxic to wildlife, pets, or plants. There are even food flavors and cosmetics that use it. This type of glycol has become even more popular than ethylene, because it can cause water to melt at nearly -75 F.
Some blends of ice melt that are safe for pets will use PG. The main drawback of the ingredient is that it's a liquid. It's not the most effective at reducing ice melt on its own. But if it's mixed with a grainy and porous material, it can melt the ice and increase traction.
Most blended ice melts use rock salt as their base. They'll have a much smaller amount of other ingredients mixed in. This allows the manufacturer to sell the mixture at a lower price than if a lot of the more expensive ingredient was used.
You'll be able to see the mixture of components on the label. You might find that a mixture has 95 percent salt to 5 percent magnesium chloride. The more rock salt there is, the more the mixture will behave like rock salt. The extra ingredient might help the substance melt ice at a slightly lower temperature, but otherwise, you won't see many benefits.
Of course, that's not the case for all blended melts. But be wary of the marketing tactics that "blended" formulas employ. They might claim to have the fastest-working ingredients on the market, but do they have enough of those ingredients?
Some blends do work very well! For example, a blend of liquid glycol with a traction-assisting powder will work better than the glycol or the powder would individually. It's just a matter of evaluating the label and deciding whether the price is worth it.
Some kinds of ice melt can be dangerous if they aren't used properly. They might pose a danger to your pets, children, or even you. Some melts might be hazardous to the wildlife around you. Less volatile compounds might still cause damage to your garden or corrosion on concrete and metal.
You should always handle an ice melt cautiously. Follow the manufacturer instructions and read all warnings with care. Never use the melt in a way that goes against the manufacturer instructions.
Sodium chloride can cause the pads on your pet's paws to become dry and cracked. You should also never eat road-grade rock salt. Though regular salt can be consumed, road-grade salt is often mixed with other chemicals that aren't safe to eat.
Calcium chloride has some serious corrosive properties. If you ingest it, it can irritate your stomach. Your eyes and skin might burn if they come into contact, so you should always handle it with gloves. In addition, some people experience respiratory problems from inhaling it.
If you're working with potassium chloride, you should absolutely not eat it. Eating it can lead to convulsions, weakness, vomiting, and nausea. If the dust blows into your eyes, you might experience eye pain, redness, and watering. You might also develop a sore throat or cough if you accidentally inhale the dust.
Magnesium chloride is another dusty type of melt. You should avoid getting this material in your eyes at all costs. Wear goggles or other eye protection if you're working in windy conditions. If you inhale the dust, you might have significant irritation in your throat and lungs. Your skin might also become irritated upon contact.
Any acetates should be kept away from your eyes, and you should try not to inhale them. Your eyes and lungs can both become severely irritated. Make sure you wear gloves as you use the substance. Wash your hands immediately afterward. If any animals walk through acetates, wash their paws right afterward, and don't let them lick their pads.
Ethylene glycol is highly toxic to pets and humans. Unfortunately, the sweet taste sometimes attracts animals. If your pet ingests this substance, go to an emergency vet immediately. If someone in your household ingests it, call Poison Control.
Most ethylene glycol is used to de-ice the outsides of planes. You're unlikely to find it sold outside a specific industrial or commercial context. The other type of glycol, propylene glycol, isn't toxic.
Some people mix grainy sand with their ice melt. This allows the melt to cover more surface area and last longer. At the same time, the roughness of the sand gives your feet and car tires better traction. That's ideal if you're trying to get out of a sloped driveway or walk down a slippery path.
If you're dealing with extremely icy conditions, you'll want to primarily focus on your melt. But if you're only facing some light snow and wind, mixing the melt with sand is a good idea. Not only will it help you save money, but it might also protect your property from potential corrosion.
Sand doesn't have any properties that melt snow and ice. It must be mixed with an ice melt instead of used by itself. But since it provides extra traction, it can reduce the need to use as much melt.
Toddlers and other small children have trouble telling what is and isn't food. They love to put things in their mouth. Dogs are also infamous for eating anything they can get their mouth around. So it's important that you keep a close eye on your pets and kids while you're using ice melts.
Basically no ice melts are edible. Some are more toxic than others, but none should be eaten. Make sure your pets and kids don't eat any snow that might have residue from the substance in it. And definitely keep them from eating direct granules or crystals of the melt.
Some ice melts will create a brine that can be shoveled away. This brine shouldn't be left on the skin. When your kids come inside, make sure they wash their hands. If your pets have been romping around in the snow, make sure their paws are rinsed off with warm water.
Dogs can sometimes get little pellets or grains of the melting substance stuck to their paws. This might lead to burning paw pads. Flaky melts are less likely to get stuck to a dog's pads, but most flaky and powdery melts are toxic for dogs to ingest.
For people who are extremely concerned about the wellness of their pets, kids, and local wildlife, you can find a nontoxic ice melt solution. Look for formulas that are labeled safe for pets, gardens, and children. You might need to pay a little extra, and the materials might not work as quickly as some chemicals, but you'll have peace of mind about your family's safety.
Different ice melts will have different warnings and instructions for use. Make sure you read the warnings to be certain that the formula is safe for your purposes.
The package will tell you how much melt you should use over an area. This will allow you to get the maximum effectiveness without overusing the product. The less you use, the further your investment will go.
It's also better for your lawn if you use less melt. People often use massive amounts of ice melt to try to encourage faster melting. But this doesn't actually speed the process. All it does is waste your material and increase the potentially corrosive runoff into your plants.
The most important thing is to read the directions on the package. Some melts will require protective gear like gloves and goggles, since they can irritate the skin and eyes.
If you find that your melt isn't grainy enough to increase traction, you might mix it with sand or fireplace ashes. Some people use traction additives specifically made to add non-toxic traction components to existing ice melt.
You can also use ice melt preemptively. Before a big storm, you can sprinkle your driveway and pathways with the melt. The layer of melt will prevent the snowfall from freezing onto your driveway. You'll be able to shovel it much more easily.
Keep in mind that if you use a granular melt, it might be shoveled away with the snow. You'll need to reapply it to keep the driveway from freezing again. You can check the directions and considerations on the manufacturer's label to see if this is the case.