How to Melt Snow Without Salt: Snow Melt Alternatives
Harsh salts damage concrete and the environment. Fortunately, there are several natural snow and ice melt alternatives you can use this winter instead.
Every winter, especially after a few good snow storms, we tend to ask ourselves those life-changing questions:
How do I melt snow and ice without shoveling?
How do I melt ice and snow without salt?
Are there any realistic alternatives to shoveling and that annoying salt?
Well, here are your answers.
The Problems with Calcium Chloride Snow Melt (Rock Salt)
While snow and ice melting salt is an easy way to eliminate dangerously slippery driveways, it poses notable risks. It is not biodegradable, meaning it sticks around long after the snow is gone. It can negatively impact soil, vegetation, groundwater, surface water, and even air.
- Snow melt can be significantly detrimental to concrete. The harsh salts break chemical bonds that keep concrete strong. This results in damaged concrete on driveways that will require costly repair and replacement much earlier.
- Snow and ice melting salts can be dangerous to pets or young children. When ingested, the salts can cause painful stomach distress. Snow melt can dry out and crack your pets’ paws, putting them at risk for infection.
- Snow melt can cause serious damage to your yard and landscaping, as well as the environment. As snow melts, the runoff containing harsh salts can kill grass and other plants.
- The salts may also run off into your local water system, which can compromise the area’s water quality.
Luckily, many safe alternatives exist for melting away that pesky snow. These options are more environmentally-friendly and will protect little ones (both human and animal) who come into contact with them.
Snow Melt Alternatives
- Coffee Grounds
- Sugar Beet Juice
- Homemade Solution
- Baking Soda
- Wood Ash
- Organic, Salt-Free De-Icer
- Alfalfa Meal
- Snow Melting Mats
Let’s take a closer look at each of these snow melt alternatives:
Have a coffee maker in your kitchen? Instead of throwing away the leftover coffee grounds, apply them to your driveway after shoveling. This helps to melt ice quickly due to the acidity within the coffee grounds. This will also add some needed grit for those walking on the driveway, which will help prevent slips and falls. Because the grounds are a dark color, they also naturally attract more sunlight and warmth.
Sugar Beet Juice
Beet juice works by lowering the melting point of ice and snow. Because it’s a liquid, it requires no clean up. It’s 100% natural and poses absolutely no risk to concrete, pets, or the environment. Additionally, beet juice is one of few ice melting options that works even in sub-zero temperatures! Admittedly, it’s not the cheapest option available, but it is very kind on the environment, which is a huge bonus.
Instead of pouring straight vinegar on your driveway, it’s a good idea to mix equal parts water and vinegar in a large bucket and then pour it on the snow-covered area. This solution will not be the strongest snow melt choice, but it is nonetheless effective. Just make sure that you don’t allow the liquid to freeze again. Remove any remaining ice or water puddles with a shovel or a push broom.
Why not try creating your own DIY solution made from a few common, inexpensive household ingredients? Here’s all you’ll need:
- A Bucket
- Half-Gallon of Hot Water
- Six Drops of Dish Soap
- ¼ Cup of Rubbing Alcohol
Simply mix it all together and pour your homemade ice melt solution onto the driveway. You can also put the solution into a spray bottle and apply it that way, if you only have a small area you want to treat, such as a small porch.
If you’re in a pinch, you can even use baking soda as ice melt! This is one many people haven’t considered, but because it’s a kind of salt, it will lower the temperature of the ice, slowly turning it to water. It is also much softer on the concrete than the corrosive properties of the traditional calcium chloride salt.
Wood ash is a good snow melting solution if you have a wood-fueled fireplace. Instead of throwing the wood ash away, simply gather it and use it as a slow-acting melt solution. It contains potassium, which is why it works. As with the coffee grounds, the dark color attracts more sunlight, which enhances its melting ability.
Organic, Salt-Free De-Icer
This option is a more expensive alternative to traditional snow melt. However, it offers all the same convenience as calcium chloride ice melt without the damaging risks to your property and family.
Alfalfa meal is commonly used as fertilizer. It contains nitrogen, but not enough to risk harm to plants or your local water system. Alfalfa meal has a dry, grainy texture that can provide traction while it goes to work melting snow and ice.
A Word About Sand
Many people believe that sand can effectively melt snow like ice melt. However, this isn’t really the case. The reason people often suggest sprinkling sand is to provide greater traction after a great snowfall. This reduces the chance of a major injury due to a fall, keeping you safe while you’re out shoveling.
However, the sand will likely melt the snow to a small degree, although it may need to be reapplied several times. You can use birdseed or kitty litter for better traction as well, although they won’t offer much in terms of actually melting the snow.
Snow Melting Mats
And now, on to our favorite way to effortlessly melt snow and ice: Summerstep Snow Melting Mats from Powerblanket!
No more shoveling! Ever! (Now that sounds nice!)
Did you know heated mats for snow removal even existed? If not, you’re not alone! But they are slowly catching on as the shoveling alternative that really works!
Summerstep Snow Melting Mats eliminate the need for labor-intensive shoveling (which can be strenuous and incredibly time-consuming.) They provide peace of mind and more relaxation all winter long. They also keep you safe any time you walk outside after a snowfall.
These heated mats are incredibly easy to maintain – just lay them out once and keep them in place all winter! All you have to do during each snowfall is simply plug them in. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Powerblanket offers both Summerstep industrial mats and residential melting mats. They can be made custom to fit your exact needs. They can also be linked together to fit any size or shape of porch, walkway, driveway, or stairs.
Ready for an easier winter season?
Learn more about our Summerstep Snow Melting Mats. Give our snow removal experts a call today at 866.945.4203.