There’s nothing more romantic than sitting in your home, all cozied up, watching the snow fall. But then you remember that you need to go to the store or work or school. And as you step outside, you slip on the ice and fall. While you’re trying to pick yourself up, you might start thinking “Was there a way I could’ve avoided it?” The answer is — yes, there sure was.
Not only can you melt the ice from your driveway, but you can also use some home remedies, and not break the bank while making them. I’m going to show you a few of my favorite recipes and talk about what the easiest way to defrost the sidewalk is.
How to Safely Shovel Snow
Before you use any sort of remedy to try and deice your driveway, you first have to shovel the snow. Now, there are a couple of things you can do before you start shoveling to avoid exhausting or hurting yourself.
Have a Plan
If you don’t want to spend half of the day in the cold winter snow, you need to come up with a plan. My recommendation is to get to your car first and clean the area around it. Once you reach your car, get inside, turn on the defrosting mechanisms, and crank your heat to full blast. Then, start working from your driveway to the street.
Dress for the Occasion
First, you need to dress in layers to stay warm, and make sure you’re wearing a scarf and gloves. Since shoveling snow is a pretty strenuous activity, you might work up a sweat. But even if you do, never take off any of your clothes. If you’re running hot, go inside, take a quick water break and cool yourself off.
The best thing you can do to avoid hurting yourself when shoveling is to stretch before you start. Try to touch your toes a few times or do a few full-body stretching exercises. Now, the most important thing to remember is to bend your knees and lift with your legs.
Also, to avoid straining your back, keep the shovel blade close to you. Finally, try switching your snow-shoveling hands so you can use different muscles and not wear yourself out too much.
So, you’ve shoveled the snow; now what? Well, since there’s probably a lot of ice under it, you need to figure out how to melt it. First, let’s start with the easiest and cheapest solution — salt. Not only will salt help deice everything, but it will also give the pavement a nice grip so you don’t have to worry about falling.
There isn’t much to using this home remedy. Simply sprinkle some salt over the ice and wait for it to melt. The thickness of the ice will determine how much salt you need to use. But, since it might go a bit slow, there’s something else you can use — rock salt.
Rock salt is used all over the world as one of the best methods of deicing driveways, roads, and sidewalks. It’s pretty cheap and you can even make it at home. If you don’t want a DIY project, you can get some rock salt on Amazon or at your nearest hardware store. But I don’t recommend buying them in stores, because most of them contain cyanide and chloride, which are harmful to plants and animals.
How to Make Rock Salt
If you want to be more environmentally friendly, you can always make your own rock salt. Making your own is cheaper than buying, and you don’t have to worry about harming your pets. All you’re going to need is some salt, water, a pan, and a jar.
First, start off by boiling some water in a saucepan. Then, add and stir your salt and let it dissolve. You can use sea salt, ionized or unionized salt or even Epsom salt. Once it’s totally dissolved, pour the contents of your saucepan into a jar and wait for the crystals to form.
Rubbing Alcohol and Water
If you don’t have salt lying around the house, but you do have some rubbing alcohol, you can always go with that. Since rubbing alcohol has a much lower freezing temperature than water, it can easily deice your driveway and sidewalk.
To ensure the best results, fill a spray bottle with about 70% of rubbing alcohol, and fill up the rest with water. If you don’t have a spray bottle lying around, you can just poke 4–5 tiny holes in a regular bottle and mix everything in there.
When you’re spraying the ice, try to hold the bottle about a foot away from it. You can leave the solution for 15–30 minutes and once it starts working, use a metal shovel to clean everything.
Rubbing Alcohol, Water, and Liquid Dishwashing Detergent
If you need to deice your driveway in less than 30 minutes, you can add some dishwashing detergent in your solution. Pour half a gallon of water, six drops of detergent, and about two ounces of rubbing alcohol in your bottle, and start spraying.
Not only will this mixture remove the ice in a matter of minutes but you can also use it to get rid of frost on your windshields. You can find some eco-friendly dishwashing detergents here.
White Vinegar and Water
White vinegar is another amazing deicer you could use for your driveway. Using white vinegar could be a great alternative to rubbing alcohol. All you need to do is add equal parts vinegar and water into a spray or regular bottle. If the ice is a bit thicker and won’t melt, you can always add more vinegar.
White vinegar isn’t harmful to your animals or plants, and you can use it as much as you want. Also, if you have a gas stain anywhere on your driveway, you can use white vinegar to help eliminate the smell.
Wood Ash, White Vinegar, and Water
Even though vinegar will melt the ice away, it won’t provide any traction while you’re cleaning. By adding wood ash, you can melt the ice and add some traction. Not only that, but wood ash will also stop new ice from forming during the next snowfall.
First, take about two cups of wood ash from your fireplace, put it in a gallon of water, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, take out any debris that’s floating in the water and pour the mixture in a different bucket. But be careful not to put any of the sediment that has built up. Once you’ve done that, add two cups of white vinegar and stir well.
Again, you can put the mixture in either a spray bottle or a regular one, depending on how much of the mixture you want to use. It’s an amazing home remedy for your icy driveway that won’t pollute the environment.
Another product you could use to deice your yard is fertilizer. A common ingredient in most fertilizers is ammonium sulfate, which can accelerate the melting process. But I wouldn’t recommend using it in your driveway because it can flow into the sewers once the ice melts.
Last but not least, I also wanted to include an unlikely contender, beet juice. It will protect your driveway and sidewalk from the ice because it has a lower freezing point than water. However, be careful when using it, because beet juice can actually stain your driveway. If you want to avoid that, you can always use juice from white beets.
How to Prevent Ice from Forming on Your Driveway
As the old saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” So, if don’t want to be sorry, there are a couple of things you can do to prevent ice from forming in the first place. Let’s take a look at what some of your options are.
Snow Melt Mats
You can use melt mats in your driveway, which will prevent new ice from forming. But I would only recommend it to those of you who are either building a home or renovating their driveway. While they are cheaper compared to heated driveway systems, they can still cost a pretty penny.
Heated Driveway Systems
If you live in an area where it’s snowing almost all year round, you should think about investing in automated or manual heated driveway systems. While manual ones might save a bit more energy compared to the automated, they are not as efficient.
There you have it — all of the best home remedies for deicing your driveway and sidewalk. Now, while all of these can work great for you and your home, if you have really thick ice in front of your home, you might want to use a combination of a few different solutions.
Also, be careful when you’re shoveling the snow. Make sure to stretch before you start, and take a lot of breaks to avoid hurting yourself. Remember, bend the knees and always lift with your legs.