Choosing the Right Ice Melter

Choosing the Right Ice Melter

Every week can bring a new season to Colorado, and that means the snow and ice are on inevitably the way again, most likely sooner rather than later.

For those with ice-prone north-facing driveways and stubborn slippery spots around the home, ice melt granules can prove to be a necessary investment for providing clear paths with adequate traction.

But with so many choices, which ice melter should a home-maintainer choose?

Environmental Options

The first thing to consider, according to the Green Vests in the Garden department, is the effectiveness of ice melt versus the safety of its components. If a homeowner has pets, they may want to consider a natural, salt-free formula, something that is gentle on the pads on the bottom of pets’ feet and will not harm them if they lick themselves clean and ingest a little residue once they are inside the house.

Similarly, if children who like to play in the snow are in the equation, it may give parents peace of mind to know that the substance lying around their sidewalks and driveway is safe to be around. And if tracked inside from winter boots, natural ice melters are also gentle on rugs and carpets.

Our #1 option is the Safe Step Sure Paws Ice Melter. It’s free of salt and non-irritating to pets’ paws and skin. Our other pet- safe options are Safe Paw Ice Melt and Pet Guard Ice Melt.

Safe Step Enviro Ice Melt tackles ice under -10, helps prevent re-freezing, and protects concrete from damage by extending the free/thaw cycles when used as directed.

Another benefit to more natural ice melters: they are more gentle on plants. With active ingredients such as magnesium chloride and potassium sulfate, these melters are more gentle on foliage when a season’s-worth of granules accumulate on the edges of the lawn or neighboring bedding plants with regular snow shovelings.

Application Rates

With many ice melters, a little bit goes a long way. In most cases, 1/4 cup evenly applied per square yard of surface area is enough to do an adequate job. It may seem like some of the low-application-rate melters are more expensive, but they’ll actually save you money in the long run compared with products that require up to a whole cup per yard to perform the same task. To increase traction, mix in an abrasive such as sand or kitty litter.
Ice Melter

1/4 cup per square yard (3′ x 3′) is usually enough to get the job done.

With this rate in mind, you can make your ice melter last even further into the season.

What about the roof?

Prevent dangerous ice dams (accumulations of ice at the lower edge of a sloped roof or gutter) by tossing a few ice melt tablets on your roof. They’re hockey puck-sized and easy to throw up there. However, they’re a quick fix and not as environmentally friendly.

Concrete Concerns

A common misconception is that the chemical composition of many ice melters can damage concrete. While this may hold true for cement less than 2 years old, damage is actually caused by the physical nature of ice settling into little cracks after it melts and then refreezing. The expansion of the refrozen water forces the concrete apart, creating pockmarks. So, as the Green Vests will tell you, it’s best to apply the ice melter, let it diminish the ice back into water or slush, and then shovel or squeegee as much of the excess moisture away as possible before reapplying another thin coat.

If ice is thick, it may be beneficial to use an ice scraper, a flat-headed tool for breaking up the heavies, before you finish it off with a nice sprinkling the granules to prevent refreezing.

Let’s face it: in Colorado, ice comes with the territory. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it in check.