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

Mary Hunt on

Why this works: Salt (sodium chloride) melts ice because adding salt lowers the freezing point of the water.


Mix equal amounts of vinegar and water to produce an effective de-icer. Pour the mixture on iced surfaces, and the ice will slowly turn to liquid.

Why this works: The freezing point of plain white vinegar is 28 F, which is lower than water.


A light application of sand, gravel, non-clay-based kitty litter or birdseed gives walkways more traction.


Why this works: In most situations, just adding a scant layer of grit to snowy surfaces provides the traction you need to safely get from here to there, whether you're walking or driving a vehicle.

Caution: Do not use clay-based kitty litters for this purpose, since they will turn into watery sludge once they come in contact with moisture, and that will make the ground even more slippery than it was before.


Salt -- rock salt or ordinary table salt -- is the most basic ice melt found in just about any house. Simply sprinkle the plain salt across the snow-covered area, steps or porch. Salt will then spread through the ice layer, turning it into slush. Interestingly, salt is only effective to keep ice sloshy to 15 F. So, if it's 14 F and lower, you need to use an alternative method.


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