How to Use Deicers and Anti-Icers on Sidewalks and Driveways
By: Julie Day
When freezing weather hits, sidewalks and driveways can become dangerously slick. And if you’ve ever gotten out there with a shovel, you know how tenaciously that ice can cling to your driveway! Deicers and anti-icers are chemicals that help to break or prevent a bond between the ice and concrete, making it easier to shovel.
It’s important to remember that these products are not intended to melt large quantities of snow or ice. For thick layers, you’ll still need that snow shovel! Deicers and anti-icers contain chemicals that can be toxic to the environment and corrosive to your driveway concrete, so it’s important to apply them sparingly and according to package instructions.
The most common products available to homeowners fall into the category of deicers. Deicers are made of mineral salts and work on the chemistry principle that salt water has a lower freezing point than fresh water. As the salts dissolve, they seep down to form a liquid layer underneath the ice that allows the ice to be easily removed.
While many products contain a mixture of ingredients, the most common deicing chemicals are:
- Sand and Kitty Litter: Both provide better traction on ice, but won’t actually melt ice.
Anti-icers are applied before snow and ice fall to prevent ice from building on pavement. For homeowners, the most common anti-icers are simply liquid salt solutions (the same as deicers, only in liquid form) that are sprayed onto driveways and sidewalks before a snowfall.
Other types of anti-icing chemicals are used by maintenance crews to prevent ice on parking lots and roads. These viscous, sticky sprays aren’t widely available for home use.
Ice Removal Tips
- Be Aware of Risks: Deicers and anti-icers can be harmful to humans, pets, and your lawn, particularly if over applied. They can also interfere with the freeze-thaw cycles in concrete and damage your driveway, and the liquid layer can increase rusting of iron and steel. To protect your home and loved ones, use these products very sparingly. If deicers and anti-icers are applied properly, it doesn’t take much to get great results.
- Bare Ground Anti-Snow Liquid De-Icer (The Home Depot)
- Road Runner Granular Ice Melt (The Home Depot)
- Using Deicers Correctly (Henry W. Kirchner P.E.)
- The Effects of Common Deicers Upon Concrete (Henry W. Kirchner P.E.)