LAST UPDATED: December 19, 2020
The Best Ice Melt (Review & Buying Guide) 2021
Keep yourself safe in the winter with these ice melts
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PUBLISHED 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
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
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
The Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt is one of the most popular ice melt products on the market and is our top pick overall. It effectively melts ice and snow, even in temperatures as frigid as -10 degrees. This Dead Sea-harvested magnesium chloride formula offers a low toxicity solution to ice and snow build up that works by generating exothermic heat over a relatively short period of time. This makes it a safe choice for pets as it is not likely to burn or irritate sensitive paws. It will also not harm plants or cause spalling on concrete that has been properly cured. It is also easy to spread. Thanks to the small pellet shape of the granules it can effectively be used in most spreaders.
The Snow Joe AZ-25-EB Melt-2-Go has made our list as the best value ice melt. It is a fast-acting, anti-corrosive, non-irritant, and environmentally benign formula that costs only a portion of higher-end formulas. It is offered in 25-pound bags or 25-pound buckets. It claims to be pet-safe and is unlikely to irritate paws, can be spread by hand without protective gloves, and it melts ice on contact. It will not leave a sludgy residue either, so no worries if you get it on the turf. While this product claims to be safe for pets, some users have stated that it includes chlorides, which are notorious for getting stuck between paw pads and reacting with the moisture to create high temperatures that can cause burns.
With a mission of providing safer environments during snow and ice events, the Redmond Ice Slicer is a good option for dealing with slick high traffic areas safely. The eco-friendly formula has 50 percent less chloride and 167 percent less alkaline impact than the typical rock salt formula. It is dye-free, urea-free, and polymer-free and is a key ingredient in Redmond’s products made for agricultural and wildlife management operations. A single bag can treat up to 400 square feet of ice and according to independent lab testing melts 3.5 times more ice than white salt in the first 10 minutes. While over-application can lead to a reddish residue on some materials, this product seems to be a safe and effective ice solution.
The CRC Ice-Off Windshield Spray De-Icer is our top pick for quickly removing ice from the windshield of a car. Ice build up on your vehicle can cause a dangerous driving situation that the average defroster is just not equipped to handle in a timely manner. However, this product effectively removes ice, snow, and frost on contact, allowing you to get in your car and safely drive without having to wait on the defroster to warm up. It is harmless to a car's finish and works well on windows, headlights, and locks, even in sub-zero temperatures. While the manufacturer makes no claim that this product is safe for pets, it is not intended for use where pets would normally be walking and it is probably best reserved for automotive use only.
The Natural Rapport Pet Friendly Ice Melt is easy to apply, thanks to the built-in applicator in the bottle. The proprietary, eco-friendly formula offers safer deicing where pets and children will be walking. It is both fast acting and time released, so frozen driveways, walkways, and stairs thaw faster and stay thawed longer. It can also be used to pretreat high traffic areas before a freeze. It is safe for use on concrete, metal, and wood thanks to ProtectRx organic technology that reduces corrosion rates by up to 75 percent. It will not clump together and is also formulated with biodegradable soil supporting compounds that make it less harmful to plants and grass. While it is more expensive than other ice melting products on the market, this product is very effective and the color aids in application preventing waste.
The Branch Creek Entry Chloride-Free, Non-Toxic, Liquid Snow and Ice Melt is a great option because it has an unlimited shelf life. If you don't use it during an upcoming season, it will work perfectly fine in the future and won’t lose its strength. The product melts snow and ice in less than 30 seconds and prevents surfaces from freezing again in temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit. The residue-free ice melt is liquid-based and works practically on impact. It also prevents buildup inside homes and buildings that is common with granular formulas. The Entry ice melt comes in a one-gallon container and provides coverage that’s similar to competing 100-pound options. It's also available in half-gallon and 2.5-gallon options. Even better, it's safe to use around pets and plants. One downside is that it's a little pricey compared to some other brands.
If you live in an area that experiences a lot of ice and snow, you need a good amount of ice melt, such as the 15-pound bucket of HARRIS Safe Melt Pet Friendly Ice and Snow Melter. The formula is 100 percent magnesium chloride, so it won't bother your pet's paws. It's less corrosive than sodium chloride and calcium chloride, and the pellets are round without any jagged edges. The manufacturer boasts that this ice melt works instantly on a variety of surfaces, including driveways, sidewalks, balconies, and more. It also operates in temperatures as low as negative 13 degrees Fahrenheit. Users like that it comes with a scoop and is very easy to use. However, there have been some complaints that the lid is difficult to remove, and it's a little pricey.
For even more coverage, consider using a 50-pound bag of Scotwood Industries 50B-RR Road Runner Premium Ice Melter. The formula begins working instantly to melt ice on contact. It's safe to use around vegetation and also on concrete. The colorless and odorless formula works well in temperatures as low as negative 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If you use a spreader with this product, it provides even and effortless coverage, and you don't need to use a lot to get good results. In addition, it's a cost-effective option considering how much product you get in the package. One downside is that it will leave behind a spotty residue. Also, it's not marked as animal friendly, so you may want to consider another product if you have pets.
The Keep It Green Pet Safe Ice Melt contains 12 pounds of rock salt pellets. The formula is non-toxic and doesn't contain any harmful chemicals, so it's safe to use around pets, and it won't damage any nearby vegetation. In addition, it's a stain-free formula, so your carpets, floors, concrete, bricks, and stone stay protected. The deicer works on contact and is designed for use on driveways, steps, road surfaces, and more. It's also tinted green, so you know where you already used it and don’t waste any of the product. The ice melt works in cold temperatures and has an easy-pour spout for even coverage. As a bonus, the mixture includes a time-release fertilizer, so the runoff will leave nutrients in the soil after the ice melts. However, the container isn't particularly big, so you may go through it rather quickly
An 8-pound jug of Blue Heat Snow and Ice Melt works in temperatures as low as negative 25 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it stand out compared to many of its rivals, which don’t work in temperatures quite that low. The pellets are made of calcium, magnesium, and sodium, and work on contact to remove ice from driveways, pavement, and road surfaces. It will not harm vegetation or stain floors or carpets. It's also safe to use around children and animals. The formula also features a blue tint, so you can see where you distribute it and don't over-apply it. Another great thing about this product is that it's made in America. Overall, it's easy to handle and works very quickly. One complaint is that it performs just as well as other products but not necessarily any better than them.
- 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.