How To Melt Ice On Sidewalks Without Using Salt?

How To Melt Ice On Sidewalks Without Using Salt?

Most of us use rock salt to clear the blocks of ice out on our sidewalks in winter.

But what if you run out of salt, or you don’t want to use salt anymore?

Don’t worry. In this article, I am going to inform you of the various alternatives you can use to melt that ice.

1. Use a different deicer

Salt is only one of the many deicing options in the market. Salt consists of sodium chloride. But other deicers contain other chemicals, like calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, and calcium magnesium acetate.

Salt can only melt ice at temperatures below 200F. So if you are facing harsher weather, you will find that sodium chloride is no longer useful. Alternatives include calcium chloride which can melt ice at -250F, and magnesium chloride which is active at temperatures as low as -150F.

Another reason to seek an alternative is if you think rock salt is not safe for your pets. In that case, consider potassium chloride.

And if you are looking for the most environmentally friendly option, choose calcium magnesium acetate or any other acetate.

Potassium chloride and calcium magnesium chloride will also cause less damage to your concrete sidewalk than rock salt.

2. Use fertilizer

This is a convenient, do it yourself solution. First, check the ingredients of your fertilizer. If it contains potassium chloride, which we have already mentioned, it will do the trick. However, fertilizer will prove useless if you are experiencing freezing weather because potassium chloride cannot melt ice at temperatures below 250F.

Most fertilizers also contain urea, a chemical which contains 46% nitrogen, and is a pretty good deicer. Like potassium chloride, it has a working temperature of 250F.

However, be sparing with the fertilizer because when used excessively, urea can burn and damage vegetation. Also, potassium chloride might cause spalling damage to your concrete sidewalk.

3. Use hot water

If you completely lack resources, for instance, when it has snowed too heavily to drive out for supplies, hot water is a time-tested alternative.

Boil water in a pot. Pour it on the iced-over sidewalk. And then immediately begin to attack and break the ice with an ice pick or shovel. It might not work if the weather is too cold or the ice too thick.

4. Install a heated sidewalk/driveway

It consists of a heating mechanism which you embed under the surface of the sidewalk. A grid of electrical wires heats up the sidewalk or walkway from underneath by radiating the heat upwards. It is effective without having many of the risks of rock salt.

However, this option is only viable if you are installing a new driveway or walkway, or replacing an old one. Plus, it will raise the electricity bill quite a bit.

5. Use a heated mat

If your driveway or walkway is already installed, you can use a heated mat. You just place it on the sidewalk, and the heat emanating from it will melt the ice. The heated mat also requires electricity.


But as you hunt for the best alternative to salt, investigate each solution. Some might be dangerous for your family, your pets, or the environment.


  • Updated March 8, 2018
  • Ice
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