Homemade Ice Melt For Concrete Or Wood Stairs, Driveways & Walkways [Keeping Pet Safety In Mind]!

Did you run out of store-bought ice melt and need a quick and easy solution to help you de-ice areas around your home? Or maybe you're looking for a lower-costing solution that you can make at home to save some money? Well, you've come to the right place. We've put together this list of ice-melting solutions that can be made using household ingredients.

  1. Salt
  2. Baking soda
  3. Hot water, dish soap, and isopropyl alcohol
  4.  Beet juice and salt brine
  5. Wood ash, vinegar, and water
  6. dirt 

So which of these options is the most pet friendly? And will any of them cause damage to the environment or your driveway? Keep reading to learn all about these different homemade ice-melting solutions.

Thick snow in front of the house. - Homemade Ice Melt For Concrete Or Wood Stairs, Driveways & Walkways [

Can You Make Your Own Ice-Melt?

Yes, several home methods can be used to substitute ice melt when you're in a pinch. Many of them can be made with basic items that are commonly kept in stock in many homes.

Some of them can be more harmful to pets, the environment, and your driveway or sidewalk, which are things to consider before you decide which option to use.

1. Salt

Ground level closeup view of rock salt ice-melt on concrete with snow

Any type of salt you have in your home can be used to melt ice, but large, coarse salts like rock salt work best. Table salt will work too, but it will take more of it to have a noticeable impact. Even gourmet Himalayan pink salts will work to melt ice when you're low on options.

Keep in mind that salt isn't good for plants, so it can cause damage to lawns. It also does damage to concrete, cement, and asphalt and leads to potholes and other surface damage over time.

Salt isn't good for pets either and can cause their paws to sting. If they lick their paws and ingest too much salt, that can make them sick too.

TIDMAN'S Rock Salt

This one-pound box of rock salt can be used in salt grinders for cuisine, or you can sprinkle it on your sidewalk if you're desperate to melt some ice. It has a very coarse texture, making it a great item to keep in your cupboard just in case you run out of the store-bought ice melt.

Click here to see this rock salt on Amazon.

2. Baking Soda

Close-up of baking soda in a glass jar. Bicarbonate of soda.

Surprisingly, baking soda has a high salt content that can also help to melt ice. It's got a very fine, powder-like texture, so it does take a little longer to work and may require a larger quantity to make good progress. But if you're out of ice melt and rock salt, it can make a world of a difference.

Baking soda won't burn your pet's paws like salt will, and it's not as bad for the environment since it has a lower concentration of salt in it. For the same reason, it's also safer for your driveways and the concrete around your home.

Earthborn Elements Baking Soda

This one-gallon bucket of baking soda is enough to keep around the house for baking and as a substitute for ice melt. It's also great for cleaning and deodorizing all over the house, making it a super useful item to have on hand.

Click here to see this baking soda on Amazon.

3. Hot Water, Dish Soap, And Isopropyl Alcohol

Isolated plastic bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol with label

Mix a tablespoon of dish soap, four tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol, and a gallon of hot water together to create an ice-melting liquid that you can pour or put in a garden can or spray bottle.

The alcohol has a freezing temperature of -20 degrees, so it will prevent ice from forming, and so does the dish soap. And the hot water will melt the existing ice. On very cold days, you will need to up the amount of alcohol in the mixture, otherwise, you could end up with more ice buildup. 

Alcohol may sting your pet's paws if they have any open cuts or dry pads. If your pet consumes too much alcohol, it can make them sick. To prevent this, you can rinse their feet in warm water or wipe them with a warm wet washcloth when they come back inside.

Alcohol evaporates quickly too, so it's not as harmful to the environment or your sidewalks and driveway as some of the other options.

MaxTite 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol

This gallon-size jug of alcohol is the perfect option for anyone who wants to keep an ice-melt alternative around their home. It's also great for cleaning and sanitizing electronics like keyboards, cell phones, and more.

Click here to see this alcohol on Amazon.

4. Beet Juice And Salt Water

Beetroot juice

Mix a gallon of warm or hot water with a cup of table salt, and then add two quarts of beet juice for a more gentle ice-melt alternative. Beet juice helps the salt in the water stick to the ice better to help it melt faster. It can be extremely helpful in very cold weather and improves the melting process greatly up to 0 degrees.

Diluting the salt in the water will help prevent paws from getting stung and will also help prevent large amounts of salt from getting stuck to their paw. While this solution is gentler on paws and beet juice isn't harmful to pets, it can stain your concrete and driveway a slight pink or purple tone. 

Lakewood Organic Beet Juice

This beet juice is sold in one-quart bottles, making them a great size to use when you need to make some ice melt. It's completely organic, so it's also a safe choice for those who want to be pet conscious. 

Click here to see this juice on Amazon.

5. Wood Ash, Vinegar, And Water

A ash bucket full of wood ashes sitting outside on the ground- Garden fertilizer- the remains of burnt firewood- A black ash bucket full of wood ash

This option is a little more involved and requires wood ash, which not everyone readily has on hand. Place two cups of wood ash in a bucket of water filled halfway, and let it sit overnight.

The next day,  pour the water through a strainer into another bucket. Add two cups of vinegar to the water and stir it well. Then, pour it into a watering can or spray bottle to use. 

This is a very gentle formula that won't harm your concrete, yard, plants, or pets. Wood ash is actually very good for plants and is relatively harmless to people and pets. The vinegar is also highly diluted and completely safe for pets and people.

Mr. Dirtfarmer Premium Hardwood Ash

This wood ash is sifted to provide a fine, dust-like ash that will mix well with water. It's available in a variety of sizes depending on your needs.

Click here to see this ash on Amazon.

6. Dirt

Sanding icy pedestrian sidewalk, maintenance of slippery surface in winter. Paving slabs sprinkled with salt and sand mixtures. De-icing chemicals on pavement. Prevent slipping on road with sand.

Using dirt is a great way to melt ice if you aren't in a rush. The darker color of the dirt against the ice and snow attracts the sunlight and helps encourage melting.

It also provides excellent traction instantly to make the surface less slick and dangerous. Sand can be used to provide traction too, but it won't speed up the melting process as much as dirt.

Dirt is completely safe for your yard,  concrete, driveway, pets, family, and the ecosystem. In the spring, simply sweep the accumulated dirt over to the yard or add it to your garden and let the earth take it back. You can dig up your own dirt, or purchase a bag of soil at your local gardening center.

Scotts Topsoil

This topsoil is a perfect choice to use over the winter to create traction and slowly but naturally melt ice and snow. It comes in a 26-pound bag that will provide you with traction throughout most of the winter.

Click here to see this soil on Amazon.

What Is the Cheapest Way To Melt Ice?

Salt is the most cost-effective solution to melt ice, and it's one of the fastest working options too, which is why it's so widely used. It's not the best option if you have pets or if you're concerned about the health of a nearby garden. Salt is also rough on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt.

Does Cat Litter Melt Ice?

Fresh Cat Sand Pouring into a Yellow Litter Box

No, cat litter does not melt ice, but it does create traction to prevent slips. It can also be handy to get a car unstuck on ice and snow if you put a little under the tires. Many people keep a large bag of cat litter in the trunk of their car during winter to help weigh their vehicle's back end down on icy roads too.

In Closing

Now that you know all the best ways to make your own ice melt, you're ready to choose the method that suits your home's needs. Don't forget to consider your furry friends' well-being too. Good luck, and enjoy your winter!

For more help with common winter problems around the house, read our article How To Prevent House Doors From Freezing Shut

In very cold winter temperatures, your pipes can freeze and burst. To learn about this problem, read our article Can PEX Pipes Freeze And Burst? What Homeowners Need To Know

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