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

Mary Hunt on

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, salts are less effective when applied in excess. Lesson to be learned: Use salt sparingly to treat treacherous ice on your driveway, steps and sidewalk. This will improve its effectiveness while protecting your landscape and hardscape.

Why this works: Salt (sodium chloride) lowers the freezing point of water. It is a perfect ice melt for your icy areas at very little expense.


Generously sprinkle baking soda on the ice- or snow-covered area, and wait for the ice to start melting. This may take a bit longer to melt than other options, but it will work. Do not use the soda-sprinkled path until the baking soda has done its job.

Why this works: Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) contains salt, and as we know, that lowers the freezing temperature of ice.



Mix equal amounts of rubbing alcohol and water in a sprayer. Spray solution on snow and/or ice to melt it. You can use this ice melt for windshields as well, without worry of damaging the vehicle's paint job.

Why this works: The freezing point for rubbing alcohol is way below zero. Compared to ice and snow, it's very warm.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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