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Everyday Cheapskate: Homemade Ice Melt for Steps, Walkways and Driveways

Mary Hunt on

Got ice and snow on top of super cold temperatures this winter? "Everyday Cheapskate" reader Jennifer does, and she wrote, "Do you have a solution for melting ice and snow on walkways, driveways, steps and windshields?"

I do, and at least one of these homemade recipes is sure to come to Jennifer's rescue, and quite possibly yours, too

All of these recipes and methods use ordinary household items most of us keep on hand.


Into a large container or bucket, pour 2 quarts water, 6 drops Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid and 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol (70% or 91%). Dispense using a spray bottle or other type of garden sprayer. Spray the mixture on icy area or steps, and watch the snow and/or the ice melt, which is going to make your job of making those areas safe so much easier.

Why this works: Rubbing alcohol won't freeze until it reaches at least minus 97 F. Because this recipe contains water, the mixture would freeze at a warmer temperature of perhaps minus 50 F. As for the Blue Dawn, just a few drops help break the surface tension of the ice and snow to get the melting process started.


Neither the alcohol nor the Blue Dawn content is harmful to landscape, pets or the environment, due to this being a very weak dilution.


Pour warm water into a bucket. Add rock salt crystals to it. (A good ratio is 1 gallon water to 1 cup rock salt, but this is not an exact science; you want to create salty water.) Stir occasionally until all of the salt crystals are completely dissolved.

Pour the saltwater solution into a sprayer. Spray the solution on frozen hard surfaces. The saturated force of the sprayer will penetrate through all the layers of the snow and melt it.


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