How to Remove Ice From a Driveway Without Salt: 10 Ways

Evelyn Long

Dec 14, 2023

snowy home and driveway

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The snow has already piled up. Your car is barely inaccessible, even if it is in a garage. Backing out is hazardous, and you are afraid everything will become slippery. You look beside your snow shovel and realize the ice bucket is empty. Instead of giving up, now is the time to learn how to remove ice from a driveway without salt. It may take more work, but there are creative, inexpensive ways to be resourceful while keeping your property safe to traverse.

1. Use a Snow Blower

How could a piece of equipment called a snow blower help with ice in any way? Snow blowers on the market advertise that they have enough power to chip away at ice. Always use these snow blowers with caution because if a snow blower can chip and blow away ice chunks, they might fly into unsuspecting places depending on the setup of the blower. 

This method won’t always work and is contingent upon the machine’s capabilities, but if you live in an area where snow and ice are a constant concern, it might be worth the investment.

2. Rely on the Sun and a Shovel

This is the classic method, but it requires more patience than most people want to give. It also relies on the sun being out, which isn’t always a certainty. If the sun is out, you can shovel away as much snow as possible so the natural heat can start to melt the ice to scoop out. 

Over several hours, you can go back out and check the status of the ice sheet, hitting a few times with a shovel to break up pieces for faster melting. If you have nothing to do and nowhere to go, this method has the least maintenance.

3. Use Sugar Beet Juice

This is probably the most surprising item on this list that isn’t standard in your kitchen. However, snow and ice management experts know this to be a top-tier DIY method because it is safe — unless you have concrete that might stain. If you’re timely cleaning it up, this shouldn’t be a concern.

Something about the composition of sugar beet juice delivers a comparable effect to ice and snow as it would if you put salt on it. The beet juice lowers the melting point of the snow and ice, making it easier to care for.

4. Create a DIY Mixture

Numerous recipes exist for DIY ice-melting mixtures to put on your driveway. Usually, they contain a variation of three ingredients:

  • Hot water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Dish soap

This is a very inexpensive solution because most compositions contain hot water as the predominant ingredient. You barely need any dish soap — perhaps a few drops. However, depending on how cold it is, you have to be quick when using this method. After pouring the mixture on the area, shovel and sweep it out before the water has enough time to refreeze. It will happen faster than you think. 

You can also use vinegar because it lowers the melting point, like beet juice and salt. These mixtures are great for any other seasonal cleaning activities because of their natural disinfecting and degreasing properties.

5. Spread Fertilizer

Fertilizer is one of the convenient options on this list because you have some in your garage. Depending on the type of fertilizer, it may be even more effective than salt. For example, urea is less environmentally damaging, mainly if salt spreads to other parts of the land. 

If you have pets such as dogs where salt could harm their paw pads, fertilizer is a non-toxic, non-abrasive alternative. You may even want to use it regularly instead of salt anyway. It isn’t as fast-acting, but it provides plenty of other benefits. Other fertilizer options include ammonium sulfate or chloride mixtures.

6. Invest in Melting Mats

If you want a long-term solution and a bit of disposable income, melting mats are an easy remedy you can store in your garage. They will always be there when you need them. Just lay them down on the worst areas and plug them into the nearest outlet. The magic will happen before your eyes without creating concoctions or making a mess with juice or fertilizer. 

7. Repurpose Your Morning Coffee

Have a pot of coffee grounds in the kitchen from the morning brew? We know you do because it’s cold outside. Feel free to spread those grounds over the ice for a nitrogen-rich, acidic solution to your icy woes. Plus, the coarseness of the grounds provides your feet traction if you need to walk over it while its doing its work.

8. Boil Some Hot Water

If you don’t want to create a homemade concoction, you could just boil some hot water and pour it on the driveway — no vinegar or dish soap required. However, you still need to be fast-acting in getting excess moisture away from the driveway to prevent refreezing.

9. Pour Some Sugar on It

We understand that using precious sugar at this time of year when you’re cooking delicious sweets probably isn’t ideal or cheap. However, using granulated sugar is excellent for small patches since it isn’t the most economical solution.

10. Make the Ice a Beach

This is a different tip. Like coffee grounds, sand creates traction, but it doesn’t get rid of the ice in your driveway. Use this as a last resort if you need to be able to walk safely or get a vehicle out of the garage to find better de-icing materials. 

How to Remove Ice From a Driveway Without Salt

Are you out of salt but need the ice to get out of the way of your car? Using any of these methods may help you in a pinch, especially if you are attempting to get to the store to get salt anyway. However, some of these solutions are more effective and eco-friendly than salt, so you may have found your next favorite driveway de-icing method.

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