I was out of town for the weekend when we got snow. By the time I got home, we had a warm day which partially melted the snow, followed by a freezing night which refroze everything.

I tried chipping away at the ice/snow with my shovel, but a) it was way too much work and making little progress and b) it was messing up my shovel.

I was holding out for a couple warm days, but that doesn't seem like it is going to happen as soon as I would like.

I would rather not go out and buy salt which I will hopefully never need again.

Is there a common household-available method for getting rid of the ice? It is covering my driveway, walkway, and sidewalk.

  • 2
    If you can, throw ash on it, the dark color will absorb more heat making the ice melt faster.
    – s3v3ns
    Feb 26, 2015 at 6:34

4 Answers 4


There are a couple of things that you might have in your household that could replace normal road salt.

  • Table salt
    You can use normal table salt and apply to afflicted areas, a table spoon or two per square meter should be enough to melt the ice.
  • Dishwasher salt
    If you happen to have a dishwasher and subsequently dishwater salt, this will also work as well if not better than normal salt - apply in the same way mentioned above. (Be careful not to apply onto plants or flowers as this could kill them and harm any animals that use them as food)
  • Sand and/or ash
    If you happen to have some sand or ash lying around the house you can use this to spread over the areas - while it won't have the same de-icing properties present in salt, it will offer grip underfoot to prevent slipping. It will still help to melt the snow, just not quite as well. (You could also use bird seed to provide the grip if that is what you are looking for)
  • Sugar Beet Juice
    You can spread some beet juice over the ice as it has a lower freezing point than water so will help to turn the ice back into a liquid - perhaps not the best idea if the temperature where you are is considerable sub-zero (I don't know the exact freezing point for the juice).
  • Vinegar
    If you mix equal amounts of water and vinegar, you can make a natural de-icer, if the ice is particularly thick, add a tad more vinegar to your solution for a great de-icing effect.
  • Vodka - thanks to @fluffy
    Similarly to the beet juice trick, vodka also has a lower freezing point than water so would be able to melt the ice if you are willing to pour some valuable alcohol over the afflicted areas.

Finally, and perhaps not advisable, you could try just leaving you car running - highly inefficient, wasting fuel and polluting the air but the fumes from the exhaust would melt any snow underneath this point and eventually the rest of the vehicle would heat up and this heat would radiate melting ice in the immediate vicinity. Again - highly inadvisable due to the fact it could also be dangerous to your health but thought I would add this as a possible option in case the rest are of no use to you.

I hope one of these are of some use to you, if all else fails just heat up loads of blankets and cover the iced area with them - would take pretty much forever to be effective but could be fun and worth a shot, take them straight from a tumble dryer and there you have it, a hot blanket.

  • 1
    THanks - I'm gonna try the vinegar trick and if that doesn't work I'll move on to the table salt. Feb 26, 2015 at 20:07
  • 1
    I'd also add that vodka does a great job of lowering the melting point of ice.
    – fluffy
    Feb 27, 2015 at 8:03
  • 1
    @YeZ I will note many of these could kill or harm your lawn or the beet juice could stain your driveway if it is not blacktop.
    – CRSouser
    Feb 27, 2015 at 17:13

You can use common household salt which you are more likely to need again but instead of trying to cover the whole area run it in a grid about a shovel width wide/high - give it some time to work then use your shovel/spade to break along the lines and remove the chunks to the side/lawn.

Note: As an aside it seems that Clifton Suspension Bridge would be damaged if road salt was used as a de-icer so crystalised horse urea, (look it up if you don't know what that is), is used in cold weather. Don't stand under it with your mouth hanging open.

  • 1
    Salt does not work if it's too cold. Feb 26, 2015 at 23:50
  • If it's too cold for salt you probably don't want to be outside anyway. :)
    – fluffy
    Feb 27, 2015 at 21:43

If there is ice on the driveway, shovel off what you can on top. Allow the shovel to slide over the ice. Get a heavy duty scraper like one in the middle in the picture below. With a good scraper the ice comes right off. Some work is involved, but not too bad. Put salt down on any remaining ice. You should have a good scraper on hand, anyway, so the expense is justified. Without the proper tool, ice is very hard to remove.

Salt does not work if it's too cold. Salt should only be applied to remaining ice once the majority has been removed.

enter image description here

  • 2
    To quote my local mechanic "There is no replacement for displacement." Its work but then it is gone vs. melting and hoping water will evaporate or drain down hill some where.
    – treeNinja
    Feb 27, 2015 at 16:01

In addition to the other answers:

My suggestion is a mix of large grain (Kosher) salt with sand and small rocks and pebbles works well.

Don't go over board on the salt, a ice cream bucket (1 gal) of small pebbles or sand would have about half to a whole box of kosher salt in it if I recall correctly. (I buy it in larger quantities and mix it in larger buckets).

General tips are to distribute widely but also establish concentrated areas in lower light areas to create a path of least resistance. So when melt does occur it will find its natural path and the water melt from areas will flow towards it and will assist with other melt and reduce the overall freeze thaw cycle.

Using this technique also assist greatly in chipping / scrapping efforts as if you scrap out from the paths you establish with your shovel or ice chipper or even garden hoe. A couple minutes over a couple days usually does the trick under the right conditions, nature takes care of the rest.

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