5 Alternatives to Salt to Melt Ice

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Rock salt is the most common choice to melt ice on steps and walkways, but it has some downsides. It can damage your plants, hurt your pet’s paws and cause gastrointestinal problems, damage brick, and concrete walkways, and pollute local water. Thankfully, there are alternatives to salt that will melt the ice with fewer drawbacks.

1. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another common ice melter. Just grab a bucket and combine ½ gallon of warm water, 6 drops of dish detergent, and ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. You can apply it straight from the bucket or put it in a sprayer. It will melt the ice quickly, and it is cheap.

2. Epsom Salt

Epsom salt will slowly melt the ice and act as an abrasive to provide traction. You can speed up the melting process by combining it with equal parts of sugar. The upside is that Epsom salt is safe for plants. It’s even used in the garden. The downside is that it is a bit expensive, making it more effective for smaller areas.

3. Fertilizer Salts

This alternative is expensive and only somewhat better for the environment and pets than rock salt, so it isn’t worth spending money on. It is good for plants. If you already have some lying around, you can effectively use it as an alternative to buying rock salt.

4. Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride boasts an exceptional ability to melt ice in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is a common ingredient in commercial ice melts. It is better on walkways than rock salt, but it isn’t pet-friendly, and using too much of it can damage plants and metal.

5. Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium Chloride is also a common ice melt ingredient, and it is all-around gentler than rock salt. It also melts in temperatures down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Non-chemical Fertilizers

Natural fertilizers like alfalfa meal, coffee grounds, and wood ashes will melt ice, improve traction, and won’t harm plants, animals, and your property


Urea is often used to de-ice airport runways, and it can be a safe and effective means to melt ice on your property. It won’t harm plants, pets, property, or the environment, and it melts ice in temperatures down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the de-icer recommended by the ASPCA because it is non-toxic and won’t hurt pets’ paws. It can cause vomiting if they eat it.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate

Calcium Magnesium Acetate is made of dolomitic limestone and acetic acid, and it keeps snow particles from being able to stick together. It is biodegradable, safe for plants and animals, environmentally safe, and won’t damage your property. Unfortunately, it is a bit pricey.

Use Less Rock Salt

If you still feel rock salt is the only good choice for you or want to use up what you already have, you can cut down on negative impacts by using less of it.

Mix the salt with hot water to help it do more with less. Clear more of the snow away before applying the salt. You can also use the product strategically rather than spreading it over the entire walk area.

Call The Professionals at Mobile Mower Techs

Keeping your property safe, attractive, and in good shape is important to you. That means you should also make sure to keep your lawn mower running well. If you don’t want to or can’t do lawn mower maintenance yourself, contact us. We’ll come to you for effortless mower maintenance.