When I was living in Pittsburgh, it’s safe to say I’ve tried hundreds of ice melt products on my yard, roof, and sidewalk.
Over the years, I’ve found most of these products melt ice which quickly refroze overnight, requiring more ice melt and costing me a lot more money. Some of them even made my dogs sick, or damaged my lawn and garden.
So unless you’re fortunate enough to have a heated driveway, you’ll need a way to melt the snow and ice when winter comes.
This article is a sum total of everything I’ve learned over the years melting ice & snow.
You’re going to find out the best ice melts to save cost – including eco-friendly products – and an ingenious way to melt ice without salt.
Best Overall: Snow Joe Pure Calcium Chloride Ice Melt Pellets
If you want an ice melt with fast-acting results, you can’t go wrong with Snow Joe MELT Calcium Chloride. This de-icing product is excellent for snow build-up and stubborn ice. It uses a unique formula from renowned manufacturer Snow Joe that is easy to dispense, with rapid results.
It is designed for the most frigid weather (-25 F) and poses little danger to flora, fauna, or concrete flooring, making it the standout product in its class. Snow Joe Calcium Chloride Pellets do not clump, and you can use these pellets on sidewalks.
Unlike other competitor products, the MELT Calcium Chloride Pellets will not get into your home and is an industrial-strength de-icer that can last up to 24 hours. It is the best on this list and your preferred choice for preventing ice build-up.
The product contains 94% calcium chloride to bring out the fire and penetrate snow and ice three times faster than your regular ice melt. The Calcium Chloride formula creates an exothermic reaction once in contact with moisture. The size of the pellets makes it ideal for covering a larger area with your hand-crank seeder.
- 94% calcium chloride brings instant heat
- The quick-action formula for immediate results
- Pre-treating the surface with Snow Joe MELT will stop stubborn ice and snow build-up.
- Small-sized pellets are easy to dispense
- Contains anti-caking agent to improve spread and extend product efficacy
- Heat is hot enough to burn skin
- Not pet safe
- Small-sized white pellets may be difficult to see
- Fast-acting: formula works immediately upon contact
- Lasts up to 24 hours and melts in temperatures down to -25º F
- Contains 94% calcium chloride to quickly generate heat upon contact
Best Pet Safe Ice Melt: Safe Paw
The name says it all, Safe Paw goes the extra mile to reduce the risk of its ice melt to ensure the safety of your cats, dogs, and other animals in general. This danger reduction is because of the operating temperature of the ice melt as it is only effective in temperate winter weather.
The green-colored pellets provide better visibility and help reduce waste, including acting as traction control to reduce the chances of a fall. Safe Paws makes this list because it is the perfect ice melt for households with pets roaming about the yard.
When you consider 70% of U.S households own one pet or the other, it becomes clear the importance of an ice melt safe for animals. The only issue with this product is that it takes a bit of time to work and is not suitable to prevent refreezing. You’ll need to apply Safe Paws more frequently than the other deicers on this list for the best results.
- Safe for pets and kids
- Non-conductive and non-corrosive formula
- Ideal for cured concrete
- Eco-friendly, salt, chlorine, and acetate free ingredients
- Slow action
- May require more application for effect
- Hardly prevents refreezing
- Not as effective in frigid temperatures
- Won’t harm animals or children, and it won’t damage your property.
- Safe for eyes, skin and paws. Safe around if ingested.
- 100% salt & chloride free. Non-toxic and biodegradable
- Guaranteed to melt at low temperatures (-2°F)
Ice Melt for Concrete: Premium Snow Joe Calcium Chloride Ice Melt
The Melt Calcium Chloride Blend provides fast-acting action against snow build-up. The ultra-low temperatures will not affect the effectiveness of this ice melt because it melts ice at -25 F. The deicer comes in a giant sack bag ideal for easy storage.
It is a Calcium Chloride Blend that works exceptionally well to liquefy ice, and the pellets have a rough texture that improves the traction allowing them to stick to sidewalks and walkways. The product is a blended recipe that generates heat upon contact, penetrating thick snow and accelerating the thawing process.
The formula lasts 24 hours after application and does not track into the house to destroy household items and equipment. While this product is one of the best in its class, there are some complaints that this ice melt is more Sodium Chloride than Calcium Chloride.
- Rapid action formula for quick results
- Prior treatment with formula stops snow build-up and ice formation.
- Do not stick to footwear and will not get into the living areas.
- Contains anti-caking agent to extend product use and improve spreading
- Will work for 24 hours in sub-zero weather down to – 15F
- The white pellet is not visible against the snow
- Not pet-friendly.
- More Sodium Chloride than necessary
Ice Melt for Asphalt: Road Runner Ice Melt
The Road Runner Blend of ice melt is a jack of all trade and most likely the master of everything. It is a formula that works well for snow, ice, and frost. You can apply it in your driveway or walkway and even mix it with fertilizer for your lawn.
Road Runner works great, melting tough ice in no time to prevent the chance of slips and falls. The grains contain a blend of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, and calcium chloride, which is primarily known as one of the industry’s most effective ice melt ingredients.
While sodium Chloride is one of the cheapest and oldest ice melting agents, Magnesium Chloride is eco-friendly. It is an agent that isn’t as harmful to flora and fauna. Sodium Chloride quickly dilutes and stops working within a short period. Still, the premium grains melt ice longer and at a much lower temperature (-15 F).
Road Runner is on this list because of its reasonable price compared to its competitors. A 50-pound bag of Roadrunner Ice Melt is sufficient coverage for your lawn, yard, and sidewalk. The pellets are odorless and colorless, and the magnesium Chloride makes it safe for flora application. It is also excellent for concrete but may cause some damage if used for extended periods.
- The blend of ingredients makes for broader application
- Reasonable price
- Eco-friendly and odorless
- Operates in low temperature
- May damage concrete if used for long periods
- Not pet friendly
- Safe to use on concrete
- Colorless and odorless
- Safe for environment and vegetation
- Melts down to -15 degrees Fahrenheit
- Starts melting on contact
Ice Melt for Roof: RoofMelt
Icicles are amazing to look at, but they can easily damage your roof and transform into a weapon capable of causing severe injury. These ice dams, when left unchecked, can wreak havoc on your gutters, shingles, insulation, roof, and even drywall!
Introducing RoofMelt by RoofRake. This ice melt solution is the less expensive option to call a snow removal specialist and effectively rids your roof of ice dams during winter. RoofMelt contains Calcium Chloride, making it the ideal choice for asphalt shingles.
Once you toss the tablets on your roof, they will melt through ice formations, allowing the ice water to trickle down your roof before it turns into an ice dam. RoofMelt is affordable, costing only $26.95, and is a far better option than calling a specialist who’ll likely charge you over $100.
However, you’ll need to use many RoofMelt tablets to see effective results. RoofMelt is also better than other ice clearing tools like rakes which may damage your shingles.
- Excellent for asphalt shingles
- Easy to use
- Not ideal for metal roof
- Need a lot of product for excellent results
- It can be harmful to pets and plants
- Roofmelt is designed to melt through the ice, creating relief points for drainage, allowing water to flow off the roof.
- Will not damage your roof.
- Roofmelt tablets contain 95% calcium chloride.
- Effective down to -20 Degrees F
- Roofmelt begins to work on contact with snow and ice
Liquid Ice Melt: Covington Pet Safe Liquid Ice Melt
Covington Naturals is another ice melt on this list that is safe for animals. The main ingredient in this de-icer is magnesium chloride which is not as corrosive as calcium chloride or sodium chloride.
Unlike the other ice melts on this list, Covington Natural Ice Melt is in liquid form and safe for plants. It is your best choice for concrete flooring, sidewalks, and walkways. Magnesium Chloride is an eco-friendly and natural mineral that melts ice and snow without harmful effects.
In addition, Covington Naturals leaves little to no residue and is easy to clean. It is an excellent de-icer for melting small amounts of snow and is easy to spray with any pump sprayer. You can prevent ice by applying the liquid 24 hours before a storm, spreading across the designated area. The liquid ice melt is effective down to -30 F and is effective for frost and ice while preventing refreeze.
Another advantage of this product is it doesn’t track into the house like the typical ice melt pellets on the market. And the liquid nature of the product makes it versatile for use anywhere, including concrete, sidewalks, yard, or roof. It has an unlimited shelf life allowing you to store until the next Old Man Winter.
- Versatile and easy to use
- Does not stick to animal Paws
- Easy to clean up
- Unlimited shelf life
- Great for the environment
- Doesn’t ship with a sprayer
- Slightly more expensive than competitors
- May need to use a lot to work well
- No messy salt crystals, Gallon Jug Stores Indefinitely
- Pet, Concrete, Vegetation, and Environmentally Friendly
- Pre-Coat before or after ice forms and snow falls
- A single gallon jug covers more area than a 35lb. bag of salt
Frequently Asked Questions
Have some questions or considerations? Here are the answers to some FAQs.
What temperature does ice melt?
Using rock salt and ice melt on concrete is a standard method of melting snow. However, different ice melt formulas are effective at different temperatures.It is important to know the temperature an ice melt product will be effective before you purchase it.
Firstly, the temperature of ice increases along with the ambient temperature of its surroundings. However, once this ice gets to its melting point, the gradual temperature increase ends. The ice transforms into water, and the temperature remains largely constant until all the ice melts. This ice water will stay at 32 F until it is all water. In other words, ice melts at 32 F.
Is ice melt bad for concrete?
According to the American Concrete Institute, many chemical compounds in today’s ice melt formulas are bad for concrete and ought to be avoided. They are:
- Ammonium Sulfate
- Aluminum Chloride
- Ammonium Nitrate
- Calcium Sulfate
- Magnesium Chloride
- Magnesium Sulfate
- Sodium Cyanide
Although some of the chemicals in ice melt can damage your concrete, the amount of water your concrete absorbs is the bigger culprit.
As water seeps into the concrete and freezes, it expands and can cause the surface to crack when it thaws.
When you use a de-icer on your concrete floor, it accelerates the process. It it continues, the water will eventually expose the coarse aggregate and compromise the concrete’s structural integrity.
A best practice is to clean up the slush left over by the de-icer quickly. This will limit the amount of water seeping into the concrete.
You also need to understand how each ice melt product will affect your concrete. For example, an ice melt product consisting mainly of Sodium Chloride will damage your concrete rebar, including nearby vegetation, groundwater, and soil structure.
On the other hand, Calcium Chloride ice melts tend to leave behind oily residue, which can discolor your concrete pavement. While Magnesium Chloride may be safe for pets, it can affect the structural integrity of the concrete. It must be used as a blended formula to reduce the damage to your concrete pavement.
Ammonium Sulfate and Ammonium nitrate are harmful to your concrete pavement. These chemical compounds must only be used as an ice melt of last resort.
Is ice melt the same as rock salt?
Ice melt is not the same as rock salt. While both products are great for keeping walkways free from slippery ice, they are as different as night and day.
Rock salt is not so different from the salt you use to spice your food, and it is sodium chloride in its unprocessed form. If you mix salt with water, it turns to brine. Salt can melt ice because brine freezes lower than regular water. When you apply it to frozen concrete, the ice begins to melt. Rock salt may be different from ice melt; however, it has benefits and drawbacks.
- Provides traction
- More affordable
- Can melt ice in temperatures as low as 5 F.
- Not effective in negative temperatures
- Can corrode metal and damaged concrete
- Hurts pets’ Paws
- Can destroy plants
This formula combines many chemical compounds and is far more effective than rock salt. Depending on the blend, ice melt can work at -25 F. The mixture comes in liquid or pellet form but doesn’t have the traction of rock salt. That said, ice melt has its benefits and drawbacks.
- It is effective in frigid temperatures
- Melts ice quicker than rock salt.
- More expensive than rock salt
- Can corrode metal and damaged concrete
- It is harmful to pets
- Can damage flora and fauna
- No traction
Rock salt and ice melt are easy to apply on frozen surfaces. However, you must put on protective equipment, including hand and eye protection, before using these products. The best way to get the most is to apply either product before the snowfall arrives. Applying before the snow begins to fall ensures less ice build-up and accumulation after the snow stops.
This isn’t a contest because ice melt is far more effective than rock salt. Ice melt also works faster and for longer.
The price of rock salt and ice melt are within the same range, and you can buy both for less than $40 per 50lb bag at many physical and online stores. Rock salt will set you back $10 to $25 for a 50lb bag, while ice melt is slightly more costly at $20 to $40 per 50lb bag.
Rock salt seems to be the cheaper option. Still, you might need to use more of the product to get a result, making the ice melt the more economical choice if you’re going to do a lot of de-icing over the winter.
Ice melt and Rock Salt require handling care and can hurt your pet’s paws. Both products can damage vegetation so clear up as much of the product once the ice thaws.
How to melt ice without salt?
The best way to melt ice without salt is by mixing a half-gallon of hot water with six drops of dishwashing liquid and 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol. If you pour this homemade formula on your concrete, the frost and ice will bubble up and melt away. Remember to have a shovel at hand to clear up the slush left behind.
Can you use water softening salt or Epsom salt to melt ice?
Water softening salt or Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate. It is an effective method for melting ice, just like regular table salt. It lowers the ice freezing point, consequently melting the ice or frost. The main benefit is that Epsom salt is eco-friendly and great for flora and fauna.