Aside from just letting the snow accumulate or shoveling/chipping off the ice and snow as best as you can, there are four other solutions to clearing off your driveway in winter that do not involve salt. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. ), investment would have to be in the thousands of dollars range, 5 Simple Ways to Get Rid of Snow Without Shoveling, How to Shovel, Melt, and Remove Frozen Snow. Ice absorbs energy from its surroundings to undergo the phase transition from solid to liquid. The freeze-thaw cycle takes over from there, and as asphalt is rather brittle in the winter time, the damage can be quite significant. Rock salt and other salt-containing deicers will melt snow and ice and, as with concrete, encourage water to seep in through surface pores. Try a towel, zip lock bag full of air or wadded paper, plastic grocery bag full of crumbled newspaper, bubble wrap, Reflectix, closed cell foam pad (sleeping mat), polystyrene board, etc. Magnesium chloride works down to 5°F while calcium chloride works down to -20°F. Different types of salt are used as de-icing agents. Use sand or a sand-salt mix: Sand will not melt ice, but it will provide extra traction. See if you can dissolve equal masses of each substance in the water in order to get a fair comparison. | Site by Little Digital Co. How to Melt Snow and Ice Without Damaging Your Driveway From Salt, Some will tell you that "asphalt is not affected by salt." The best time to think about ice melt is before you need it to ensure the safety of your facility, staff, and guests. HeatTrak, LLC © 2020. You will have control over temperature settings and can heat only a portion (even just tire lanes) of the driveway if wished. Magnesium chloride is even more environmentally friendly and works down to -13° F (-25° C). 0 Mixing sand and salt is a compromise solution that is also popular. You probably bring along an ice chest to keep your drinks and a few snacks cold, but in the hot sun, that ice will be melted in no time. Science of How It Works, Where to Buy Saltpeter or Potassium Nitrate, What Is the Best Deicer? And while it is true that salt can lower the pH level of concrete in a way that weakens it but not of asphalt, asphalt can also be indirectly damaged by salt and deicers. For example, tossing table salt (sodium chloride) onto ice when it's 0°F won't do anything more than coat the ice with a layer of salt. Salt melts ice and helps keep water from re-freezing by lowering the freezing point of water. Finding alternative ways to rid your driveway of ice and snow will minimize your salt use and extend the life of your pavements. Tip #1: Don’t wait until the last minute. Every winter, homeowner's in the northern half or so of the United States and all around Canada face the dilemma of how to rid their driveways of snow/ice build-up without doing any damage in the process. N.B. This is the premise behind the formation of snowflakes in clouds and how ski resorts make snow when it's slightly warming than freezing. If conditions are too slippery, however, sand will not be a safe alternative. On the flip side, adding a tiny amount of insoluble particulates can actually help water freeze at a higher temperature. This can be helpful, and if you must use salt, you can dilute it with sand to lessen salt's negative impacts. Rock salt and other deicers are typically used to melt down snow and ice, while shoveling may still be needed to remove loosened but slow-melting "tough spots." Why Salt? Sodium chloride breaks into two ions in water. Do wait for the warmer part of the day to tackle the ice patch, however, and sweep off the water at the end. damaged by salt and deicers. ), Rock salt and other salt-containing deicers, 5 Simple Ways to Get Rid of Snow Without Shoveling, How to Shovel, Melt, and Remove Frozen Snow. Ice forms when the­ temperature of water reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius), and that includes ice on roadways. Magnesium chloride dissolves into three ions -- one magnesium cation and two chloride anions. The good news is you don't need a pool of water to achieve the effect. There are many, ( Sugar dissolves in water, but it doesn't break into any ions. If you have just had concrete poured before winter, it is especially critical that it was installed correctly. There are many models and sizes, and you can choose electric or gas powered. Sugar simply dissolves into single sugar molecules, so its effect on freezing point is less than you would get adding an equal amount of salt, which breaks into two particles. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Yet, both concrete and asphalt drives can suffer harm from the use of deicing salts. Calcium chloride forms three ions in water. The more particles that are produced, the greater the freezing point depression. Clear film are available that will coat concrete and prevent water absorption. | Site by Little Digital Co. 8 Tips & Tricks for Removing Ice and Snow Without Rock Salt. This can be helpful, and if you must use salt, you can dilute it with sand to lessen salt's negative impacts. You also give the sun maximum time to work on the driveway throughout the day, finishing off the "snowy residue" and preventing black ice formation. You can even use a towel to soak up excess water if you wish. Water with salt (or any other substance in it) will freeze at some lower temperature. Do not use ashes or kitty litter, however, since they get rather "messy" when they mix in with the slush. Salt melts ice essentially because adding salt lowers the freezing point of the water. Some will tell you that "asphalt is not affected by salt." All Rights Reserved. Each climate and situation may call for a different approach, so just look for the methods that will work best for you. Combined with a shovel/ice pick, and done carefully, this can be effective. Yet, both concrete and asphalt drives can suffer harm from the use of deicing salts. Road salt works by lowering the freezing point of water via a process called freezing point depression.The freezing point of the water is lowered once the salt is added, so it the salt makes it more difficult for water to freeze. Salt only helps if there is a little bit of liquid water available. If you put salt on ice in a situation where the temperature will never get up to the new freezing point of the salt-water solution, you won't see any benefit. Installing electric heating coils under an asphalt driveway or hydronic (water-antifreeze circulating) plastic tubing in a poured concrete driveway can effectively melt surface snow/ice. All Rights Reserved. Find a "healthy" rock salt alternative for each temperature range to balance budgeting with effectiveness/safety. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Some can only move 18 to 20 inch (45.7 to 50.8 cm) deep snow, but other blowers can handle deeper drifts, so take the time to match the capabilities with your needs. The particles act as nucleation sites that allow for ice formation. Sand will not melt ice, but it will provide extra traction. Use an internal insulated lid/sheet laid over the contents to keep the ice from working (melting) just to chill the air. While salt is the most commonly used deicing method, it is also a method that does major damage to concrete and asphalt driveways each and every year. The salt has to dissolve into its ions in order to work. This should have a similar non-melting result, but may not be as effective as the previous method. The ions diffuse throughout the water and block the water molecules from getting close enough together and in the right orientation to organize into the solid form (ice). A, ( Chemical De-Icing Solutions, Why Adding Salt to Water Increases the Boiling Point, Snowflake Chemistry - Answers to Common Questions, Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. If a patch of ice is stubbornly sticking to your pavement and you don't have/want to use any deicer at all, you can boil some water in a pot and pour it over the trouble area. Potassium chloride will not irritate skin nor defoliate vegetation. Pure water freezes at 32°F (0°C). By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Why Does Salt Melt Ice? Once you pour the homemade ice melt mixture onto your sidewalk or driveway, the snow and ice will begin to bubble up and melt. It is possible to only use sand on your driveway. Different types of salt are used as de-icing agents. Follow these simple 6 tips for safely using and applying ice melt. Rock salt, the most common of all wintertime deicing agents, can do significant damage to concrete and asphalt pavements, cause defoliation of plant life at your pavement's edges, and even pose a threat to children and pets by acting as a skin irritant and a gastro-intestinal irritant if ingested. However, something as seemingly weak as salt can do significant damage to concrete.