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When the temperature drops and you see the first flurries of the season, you know snow and ice are soon to follow. Aside from a winter coat, warm boots, and a hat, there's one other thing you'll need to brave the outdoors. We're talking about an ice melt, a product specially formulated to lower the freezing point of water. It turns ice and packed snow into liquidy slush and helps prevent more from building up.
Ice melters (sometimes called deicers) can be sprinkled or poured onto your driveway, sidewalk, patio, porch, or any other outdoor surface you need to de-slick. They make concrete, asphalt, and wood platforms safer to walk and drive on. And many are eco-friendly and pet-safe, too.
Read on for the best ice melts for every home and budget.
Best Overall: Snow Joe Melt-2-Go Environmentally Friendly Blend Ice Melter
Snow Joe Melt-2-Go checks all the boxes. The green granules come in 25-pound or 50-pound bags and get to work immediately when sprinkled onto the ground. You can melt ice and packed snow quickly or pre-treat your property if inclement weather is in the forecast.
Made of earth-sourced ingredients, this eco-friendly ice melter is safe for humans, animals, and the environment. It won't leave a slimy residue in its wake and can be used on grass and vegetation in addition to hardscapes. Plus, the anti-corrosion formula won't damage concrete or metal surfaces.
Best Budget: ECOS Ice Melt Compound
On a budget? You can't go wrong with ECOS' Ice Melt Compound. This wallet-friendly ice melt is made with a blend of minerals that's gentle on plants, animals, and humans, but tough on ice and snow. It's fast-acting and safe to use on most hard surfaces.
Best for Concrete: Snow Joe Melt Calcium Chloride Pellets Premium Snow + Ice Melter
This pro-grade ice melt from Snow Joe quickly and effectively tackles sleet, ice, and packed snow on outdoor hardscapes at temps as low as -25 degrees. It's safe to use on all types of concrete surfaces, including driveways, sidewalks, steps, porches, and patios. The pellets draw in moisture from the air to lower the freezing point of water, which creates the heat needed to get the job done.
Best for Asphalt: Road Runner Ice Melt Calcium Chloride Blend
Road Runner is meant for roads, driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, patios, and other asphalt and concrete hardscapes. The pellets are made with a magnesium and calcium chloride blend to turn ice and sleet into watery slush exceptionally quickly, which you can easily shovel away. It works in temperatures as low as -15 degrees and is safe to use around trees, flowers, and other vegetation.
Best for Driveways: Prestone Driveway Heat Concentrated Ice Melter
Roadways are often treated by cities to make them safe and driveable, but you might need to clear a path to get there. The best ice melt for driveways is Prestone Driveway Heat.
If you're heading out the door only to realize your driveway is covered in a slick layer of precipitation, you'll be glad to have it on hand. The concentrated pellets melt ice and snow almost immediately in freezing temperatures as cold as -25°F and won't leave behind a powdery residue.
Best for Roofs: Roofmelt Ice Melt
Climbing on your roof in the middle of winter certainly isn't ideal, and Roofmelt's Ice Melt eliminates the need to altogether. Effective in temperatures as low as -25 degrees, this ice melt comes in a convenient tablet form that allows you to simply toss a few up to your roof while safely on the ground. It'll then melt through any ice or snow dams, turning it into water that can easily drain through your gutters. This prevents both short- and long-term roof damage,
Best Liquid: Bare Ground 5 Gal. Liquid Anti-Snow/De-Icer
If you prefer a liquid formula, we recommend Bare Ground. This biodegradable, water-soluble deicer can be used with a standard sprayer to apply an even layer on your outdoor surfaces. Its natural formula is safe to use around pets and plants. It melts ice as cold as -20 degrees and helps prevent up to 2 inches of buildup if you use it before it snows.
Best Pellets: Redmond Ice Slicer All-Natural Granular Ice Melt
Redmond Ice Slicer works over three times as fast as most rock salts. Containing more than 60 minerals, the all-natural granular pellets melt ice in just a few minutes and create stabilizing traction on the ground.
A single bag can cover 400 square feet, and the eco-friendly formula is free of dyes and polymers. It's generally safe to use around kids, pets, and plants.
Best Salt-Free: Safe Paw Coated Non-Salt Ice Melter
Salt-free ice melts like Safe Paw are considered safest for pets. Aside from containing zero sodium, this ice melter is free of chloride. It's gentle on the environment, unharmful for kids and animals, won't hurt skin or eyes, and is even safe when licked or ingested.
But just because this deicer is safe doesn't mean it's not effective. The non-staining green pellets instantly penetrate ice and packed snow while attracting heat to speed up the melting process.
Best Eco-Friendly: Eco Solutions Organic Melt Premium Eco-Friendly Ice Melter
This organic ice melt from Eco Solutions is safe for pets, people, plants, and the environment. While the sugar beet-based formula doesn't contain any calcium or magnesium chloride, it's effective in temperatures as low as -22 degrees. It quickly melts ice on driveways, steps, sidewalks, porches, and patios and won't stain or damage concrete, asphalt, or wood.
Snow Joe Melt-2-Go Environmentally Friendly Blend Ice Melter (view at Amazon) is the best option overall. It quickly melts snow and ice, prevents more from accumulating, and is safe for pets, humans, and the environment. That being said, if you want something a little more affordable, the Road Runner Ice Melt Calcium Chloride Blend (view at Walmart) is an excellent choice. The granules contain a naturally sourced mineral blend, and the 20-pound bag will go a long way.
What to Look For in Ice Melts
Before selecting a product, check the product description to find out if the ice melt can potentially damage concrete, pavers, asphalt, wooden decks, and metal. Does it have anti-corrosion properties and is safe to use on some, or all, of those surfaces?
Whether an ice melt works at -15 or -25 degrees can make a difference especially if you live in a very cold climate. To ensure you don’t get stuck when the worst winter weather hits, choose a product with the lowest minimum temperature.
Solid or Liquid
Solid ice melts come in pellets or granules, or in liquid form, which requires a sprayer, whereas pellets or granules can be spread by hand.
For homes with only a few front steps to clear, a small 6-pound jug might last you all winter. For large surfaces, such as a long driveway, it is better to stock up with a 25- or 50-pound bag, that way you are well-prepared and don’t have to get more in the middle of a snowstorm. Keep in mind though that large surfaces can be cumbersome to cover by hand; a hand-held ice melt spreader or one on wheels might be a sensitive investment.
Ice Melt for Roofs
If snow and ice buildup on your roof causes problems, you need a special roof ice melt. The active ingredient in the ice melt might be similar to ice melts you apply on ground surfaces but they can damage the roof shingles. Roof ice melt comes in tablet form and the tables are specifically designed to melt through the ice dam down to the roof and allow the water to drain.
Why does salt melt ice?
Water freezes at temperatures below 32 degrees F. Adding salt lowers the freezing point of water so it won’t turn into ice at the usual freezing point. The salt makes it more difficult for the water molecules to bond together as ice.
At what temperature does ice melt?
At a temperature above 32 degrees F, ice starts to melt and becomes a liquid. It does not necessarily mean that the air temperature has to be above 32 degrees for ice or snow to melt; the sun can still warm the ground and make the ice melt.
What ice melt is safe for concrete?
Calcium chloride is viewed as the safest ice melt for concrete because it melts ice at lower temperatures and faster than other ice melts. It breaks the bond between the concrete surface and the ice, causing less corrosion on concrete than other ice melts.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This guide was written by Theresa Holland. She's been contributing to The Spruce since 2019 and has several years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing home improvement products. You can read more of her work on Byrdie, Verywell Health, and MyDomaine. Additional reporting was done by Nadia Hassani, a writer and master gardener with over 20 years of experience.