The Best Ice Melt (Review & Buying Guide) 2021
Keep yourself safe in the winter with these ice melts
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON December 19, 2020
Frigid temperatures can make outdoor conditions dangerous for you and your family, friends, visitors, and pets. Aside from the cold putting your health at risk, it can also cause slippery conditions that make it difficult to walk or drive. This makes tasks that would normally be simple for even the most physically feeble individuals hard and dangerous for even the fittest people.
The best way to prevent ice from ruining your day is to treat the high traffic areas around your house or work such as sidewalks, driveways, and especially stairs with an ice melt. While there are many different products on the market that claim to melt ice or keep it from building up, we took a closer look at them and picked out the ones we think are the best.
This formula works in temperatures as low as negative 10degrees Fahrenheit and is made of magnesium chloride from the Dead Sea.
- Low toxic formula
- Safe for pets and vegetation
- Easy to spread
- Small pellets work in spreaders
- May turn solid if stored for a period of time
- A little pricey
- Lid can be hard to open.
This 25-pound bag of ice is also available in a 25-pound bucket or 10-pound jug. It's made with calcium magnesium acetate, an environmentally benign formula.
- Fast-acting. Melts ice on contact
- Pet safe
- No gloves required
- May bother some animals’ paws
- Might leave behind a residue
This ice melt is eco-friendly and has 50 percent less chloride and 167 percent less alkaline impact compared to rock salt.
- Dye-free and polymer-free
- Melts 3.5 times faster than white salt
- Treats up to 400 square feet. Safe for pets
- Overapplication may cause a reddish residue
- Resembles clumps of dirt
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Benefits of Ice Melt
- Prevent slips and falls. While shovels and snow blowers help remove snow, it's more challenging to get rid of ice. Keep your friends and family safe by using ice melt on your driveway, walkway, porch, and more, so they don’t fall and hurt themselves.
- Create access to your home. If you have frequent visitors to your house or business during the winter months, you want to make sure they (and you and your family) can navigate the driveway and walkways. A good ice melt can clear the path.
- Save money. You could pay someone to clear your sidewalk, or you can do it yourself. Ice melt products aren’t very expensive, and when applied properly do a good job of eliminating ice in high-traffic areas around your home.
Types of Ice Melts
Calcium chloride works well in cold temperatures and is safer than sodium chloride. These products often advertise that they are pet safe because they're technically safer than sodium chloride. However, this type of ice melt can still irritate an animal's paws, so it's not 100 percent pet safe. You should also wear gloves when handling it.
If you live in a really cold region that experiences harsher winters, you may want a product that's made out of magnesium chloride. This type of ice melt will work in temperatures as low as 10 degrees below zero. It works rather quickly and melts ice effectively. Also, it's less of an irritant to a pet's paws. However, it's more expensive than calcium chloride.
Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt)
You're likely familiar with rock salt. It's effective in that it keeps surfaces dry and provides traction. It's also very affordable. However, there are a lot of drawbacks. The formula is very corrosive. It's not a good option if you have pets or want to protect your plants. It can kill vegetation and damage vehicles, concrete, and asphalt.
Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)
Calcium magnesium acetate is a good alternative to rock salt because it's not as corrosive. Typically, you will find this product in liquid form. It's safe to use on concrete and is biodegradable.
Green Gobbler is based in Copiague, N.Y., and produces ice melt as well as cleaners, degreasers, drain openers, bathroom deodorizers, and herbicide alternatives. We recommend the Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt.
Based in Carlstadt, N.J., Snow Joe designs a variety of outdoor tools, including electric snow shovels, as well as ice melt. One of its popular products is the Snow Joe Melt-2-Go Ice Melter.
PF Harris is based in Cartersville, Ga., and was founded in 1922. The company is largely centered on pest control, but it also makes pet-friendly ice and snowmelt: HARRIS Safe Melt Pet Friendly Ice and Snow Melter.
Ice Melt Pricing
- Under $15: You can find several ice melt options in this price range. Windshield de-icing products are quite affordable, and you can also find bagged ice melt for a reasonable price.
- $20-$40: Typically, larger amounts of ice melt will cost more money. You can find 10, 12, 25, and even 50-pound options at this price point. In addition, non-toxic and pet-friendly brands tend to be a little more expensive.
If you have a dog, cat, or other pet that spends time outdoors during the winter months, you want to make sure that they don't feel any discomfort when they step on a treated driveway or walkway. Some ice melt products are designed specifically with animals in mind, so the formula is less likely to bother their paws.
Depending on the formula, ice melt can be very corrosive. Rock salt, for example, can harm grass and plants as well as damage concrete, asphalt, and even vehicles. It's not too hard to accidentally sprinkle ice melt on the lawn or shrubbery if you're treating a driveway or walkway, so take that into consideration when you make a purchase and check to see if it plant-friendly.
Before you purchase ice melt, determine how much you will need to treat a particular area around your home or business. If you have a large driveway or porch that you need to clear, you may want to buy a product in bulk and save some money. If you only need coverage on a small walkway, you can choose a small jug or bag of ice melt.
While most ice melt products contain white pellets, you can purchase a brand that is tinted. Blue and green are popular tints. What's the advantage? A colored ice melt lets you know where you have spread the salt. That way you won't over-apply it, saving you money.
- Timing. Most people want a product that melts ice instantly on contact. Look for products that work quickly. The faster the formula works on your driveway, balcony, porch, sidewalk, steps, etc., the better. It's less convenient if you have to wait a while for the ice melt to do its job.
- Temperature. Some ice melt products are more effective at lower temperatures than others. Some have the ability to melt ice when it's as low as negative 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a really cold climate that experiences extreme temperature drops, make sure you find an ice melt that works in these conditions.
Best Ice Melt Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Before using ice melt, clear the driveway, sidewalk, etc, and remove as much snow as possible using a shovel or snow blower.
- Apply the ice melt in a thin layer by hand or with a spreader. Some brands have easy-to-use spouts, while you may need to use a scoop with bagged products. Liquid formulas require a spray device.
- It's a good idea to wear gloves because some of the ingredients may irritate your hands and skin.
- Not all products are safe for vegetation, so do not shovel it into the grass or near plants.
Best Ice Melt FAQ:
Q. What is the most effective ice melt?
There are many effective brands of ice melt, and we include several options on this list. Check the specs to see which one works for your particular needs.
Q. Which is better ice melt or rock salt?
Ice melt works a little faster than rock salt, but the latter is a little better when it comes to traction. However, rock salt can damage pavement and concrete and is more corrosive.
Q. What is the best ice melt for asphalt?
Ice melts made of calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate are safe for asphalt. These formulas are sold in a variety of forms, such as crystals, flakes, and pellets.
Q. What ice melt is safe for wood?
Avoid using rock salt and calcium chloride on wooden decks, walkways, etc. Instead, choose a product that contains magnesium chloride or those that are safe to use on concrete and near pets and plants.
Our pick for the best ice melt is the Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt. This option is a popular choice among users and is effective in temperatures as low as negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The low-toxic formula is safe to use around pets and won't harm plants. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Snow Joe Melt-2-Go Ice Melter.