Cold winter weather brings dangerous ice and snow, both on the roads and walkways, that can cause slipping and falling for pedestrians and loss of control for vehicles. Luckily, there are several ways to melt ice and snow quickly to make conditions safer for everyone.
Here are the nine fastest ways to melt snow and ice:
1. Potassium acetate
This material gets first mention because it is an absolute boss of an ice melting substance. Potassium acetate is one of the fastest ways to melt snow and ice. It can melt ice rapidly even in the coldest temperatures. Its freezing point is -60 degrees Celsius, and it is eco-friendly due to its biodegradability.
Unfortunately, potassium acetate is quite expensive, and although it is one of the more eco-friendly options, if it gets into a water system, it can be responsible for lowering oxygen levels.
2. Magnesium chloride
De-icers made with magnesium chloride will work up to -25 degrees Celsius – a respectable temperature for winter in many climates. Magnesium chloride is another fastest way to melt snow and ice, much faster than regular rock salt. It is similar to calcium chloride in that it is fairly eco-friendly, unless overused.
A unique feature of this substance is that it pulls moisture from the air, so if the air is very moist, it can keep the pavement wet longer than it needs to be. Over time this could damage it. As well, magnesium chloride can be damaging and corrosive to metal.
3. Calcium chloride
This ingredient is one of the fastest ways to melt snow and ice. It has an ability to create brine quickly in very cold temperatures. Working to temperatures of around -35 degrees Celsius, calcium chloride is functional in most weather, and is an extremely quick working ice-melting substance.
In terms of eco-friendliness, calcium chloride is better than some other de-icers, but if applied in large quantities it can be harmful to plants. Although calcium chloride is incredibly effective outside, it can cause problems inside. If it gets tracked into the house, it can damage carpets and tiles.
4. Calcium magnesium acetate
As it is at the top of the most expensive de-icing materials, it is not likely that it is the top choice for most. However, it is a highly efficient de-icer, and it is environmentally safe when used in moderate quantities. It is less corrosive than some other options as well. Unfortunately, it can cause pavement to become slippery, which is a bit counterproductive.
5. Brine or beet juice
An all-natural and easy-to-access substance for ice melting is pickle brine or beet juice. It’s an eco-friendly option due to its natural composition, and can continue melting ice and snow to temperatures as low as -29 degrees Celsius. There is one downside to using beet juice in particular. Although it is an all-natural material, beet juice contains sugars that can cause problems in natural water sources, like streams, that animal life need to survive.
6. Potassium chloride
Difficult to find on its own, but often found combined with other substances in de-icing blends, potassium chloride is a highly efficient de-icing agent. It is also a more environmentally friendly option than rock salt, and can actually assist in plant health, unlike most de-icers which can damage plants. Potassium chloride does lose out in the price department though, as it is much more expensive than most other options.
7. Rock salt
Salt is one of the most common and cheap methods for melting snow and ice, and has been the reigning champ for a long time. It deserves mention because of its popularity, but it must be noted that it has been found to be environmentally damaging. The salt has to go somewhere once it has done its job, and that somewhere is often a fresh water source.
Over time, rock salt turns fresh water sources into salt water which is detrimental for all living things that use it. Rock salt is effective up to about -30 Celsius, and the brine caused by the combination of the salt and water helps loosen the ice from the ground. The rocks of salt also provide traction for people and vehicles.
8. Homemade concoction
It has been discovered that a concoction of dish soap, hot water, and rubbing alcohol acts as an effective ice and snow melt. The key ingredient here is the rubbing alcohol, because its freezing point is lower than that of water. The presence of rubbing alcohol also prevents the ice and snow from re-freezing afterwards
The ashes from a wood fire are also an effective method for melting snow. Part of the reason ash works so well is because it is dark in colour, so it absorbs heat from the sun better than the white snow does. Ash contains potassium salts, so it is still a salt, but it is far gentler than rock salt. A benefit to using ash is that you may have it lying around anyway.