How to Use Ice Melt in the Best Way Possible - Backyard Boss
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How to Use Ice Melt in the Best Way Possible

Wintertime means beautiful snowfalls, warm nights bundled up near a fireplace, and lots and lots of ice. Dealing with ice and snow can be a bummer in the wintertime, but you don’t have to let all of your fun winter plans slip away, or your family slips, for that matter. Learn how to use ice melt in the best way possible with this guide, so ice removal is a breeze this winter. 

How to Use Ice Melt

ice melt is often blue or green to help see where it's already been spread
Ice melt tinting helps with visibility in the snow.

Although spreading out ice melt may seem like a simple process, you should keep some essential tips in mind. 

  • When you use ice melt, it’s best to apply it in layers, spreading out a layer pre-storm and then another during the storm. 
  • If you’re using a harsh commercially-bought ice melt, consider mixing it with an abrasive like sand to reduce the amount of salt on your pavement and provide more traction for yourself. 
  • Once your ice melts, be sure to scoop up the salt and throw it away to harm your plants. 
  • Be dubious about environmentally-friendly and pet-friendly claims on ice melts. Always research and read reviews before buying. 

Should You Put Ice Melt Down Before Snow?

As I already touched on a little bit, it’s a good idea to prepare for a storm by putting down ice melt. Having a layer of ice melt already in place before a snow or ice storm will limit the amount of snow and ice accumulation, so when you swoop in with the second layer of ice melt, your sidewalk, car, driveway, or roof is ripe for the taking. 

You may be thinking, eh, I don’t want to use two layers of ice melt. After all, it’s expensive stuff, and if one layer will work, why bother? Because pretreating with ice melt can reduce the amount you use, requiring you to use a little before and a lot less after the storm hits. 

Should You Put Ice Melt Down Before Freezing Rain?

While putting down ice melt before you know that a snow or ice storm will hit is a no-brainer, putting it down to prepare for freezing rain is a little more complicated. The key is that if the freezing rain starts as an average rain, then the ice melt can become diluted or wash away, leaving your space exposed for when the rain turns to freeze. However, if you don’t mind possibly wasting ice melt, and if you’re confident the rain will quickly become freezing, you can risk it to set yourself up for success after the storm. 

How Long Does Ice Melt Take to Work?

How long your ice melt takes to work depends on what ice melt you are using; after all, ice melt can range from intense calcium chloride pellets to all-natural beet juice ice meltHow fast ice melt works can also depend on environmental conditions, like how much snow and ice there is and how cold it is. It can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a half-hour to work. It will begin to work as soon as you put it down, lowering the ice’s overall freezing point around it. 

What Safety Precautions Should I Take While Using Ice Melt? 

When using intense chemical-based ice melts, be sure to take the proper safety precautions for yourself, wearing gloves while you disperse it and protective eyewear. Magnesium Chloride and Calcium Chloride, which are both common in ice melts, are hygroscopic, so they will pull moisture from your skin if they make contact with it. 

Be careful if you have to walk on ice while spreading the salt, making small, manageable movements, and being cautious the whole time. Also, be sure to keep your environment’s safety in mind while spreading ice melt by only using the recommended amount, scooping up the salt, and disposing of it when the ice is fully melted. Chemicals in ice melt can be harmful to vegetation, so you do not want them running into your yard or garden. 

They can also be harmful to your furry friends, so if you have dogs or cats, be sure to use a pet-friendly ice melt that won’t harm them. You know how pets will walk on, roll in, and eat anything, so the ice melt you use mustn’t pose a risk to them. For a reasonably safe ice melt that you can make at home, try the recipe below: 

Ice Melt Storage Tips 

Winter has come and gone, the season wasn’t as bad as expected, and lo and behold, you still have a third of your ice melt bag left. You may be tempted to chuck it, but you don’t have to. If you properly store your bag, it will still be usable by the time next year’s storms roll around. 

Completely seal your bag and store it in an airtight container away from moisture, air, and sunlight. Consider using a dark wrap to keep UV exposure to a minimum because, with it, ice melt can become brittle. 

How Long Does Ice Melt Last? 

clump of ice melt in hand how to use ice melt bestYou can store ice melt year-round until next winter as long as you keep it in the proper conditions mentioned above. That way, you can ensure that you protect your investment and are ready next year when storms hit. Of course, the longer you store ice melt, the more likely it will suffer from problems like developing clumps, gathering liquid, or becoming brittle. 

How to Unclump Ice Melt

If ice melt is exposed, it will absorb moisture, causing it to harden and form clumps. Don’t worry. This is a problem you can easily take care of with some of these ice melt clump breaking methods: 

  • Seal the bag and then throw it at hard, level ground, like concrete slabs. Do this a few times until it becomes powdery within the bag again. Make sure that you aren’t ripping or creating holes in the bag, or you may end up having to clean up a lot of ice melt. 
  • If you want a more gentle way to un-clump your ice melt, don’t throw it at the ground but instead use a hammer to break up the clumps. Apply firm blows, and again, take care to make sure you don’t break the bag. 
  • Another way to get rid of lumps is to apply heat to the ice melt by placing it under a tarp in the sun or blowing it with a hairdryer. This will remove the excess moisture of the ice melt, getting rid of the clumps. 

What Should I Do if My Ice Melt Bag Is Leaking Liquid?

If your ice melt bag starts leaking, that means that you are probably not storing it correctly, causing it to pull moisture from the air, resulting in clumps and liquid. Move the bag to a room with a dehumidifier to remove the liquid from it before re-storing it correctly in an airtight container. 

Ice Melt Wrapped Up

Hopefully, that answers all of your questions about how to use ice melt. Whether you are using ice melt on your roof, car, sidewalk, or driveway, these tips will make sure you get the most bang for your buck. If you have any more questions, comment with them below, and as always, if you found this guide helpful, be sure to share it!