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As you prepare for winter weather, one of the best things to have on hand if you live in a snowy climate is ice melt. Available in both liquid and pellet form, the basic function of ice melt is to prevent ice from forming. This can keep surfaces safer for walking or driving, as well as helping make sure that your home won’t be damaged by an excessive build-up of ice during very cold storms.
When shopping for ice melts, you'll want to take multiple factors into account: How cold does your local climate get? Which surfaces are you looking to de-ice? Do you have room to store larger containers of ice melt? Not all ice melts are created equal, so keep things like product size, minimum temperature, and intended use in mind.
Read on for the best ice melts to keep your outdoor surfaces de-iced and accessible.
Best Overall: Snow Joe Environmentally Friendly Blend Ice Melter
Safe for multiple surfaces
Works in below zero temperatures
Can irritate some pets’ paws
Who else recommends it? Bob Vila also picked the Snow Joe Environmentally Friendly Blend Ice Melter.
What do buyers say? 89% of 10,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Our top pick is the Snow Joe Environmentally Friendly Blend Ice Melter, which comes with up to 20 pounds of easy-to-spread pellets that are easy to keep track of due to their green color. This ice melt can be used on just about any surface (including concrete, wood, and grass) and has a long-lasting formula that provides great traction control.
Unlike some other options, the Snow Joe Ice Melter uses environmentally-friendly calcium magnesium acetate as its de-icing agent. According to the manufacturer, this chemical is safe for pets, kids, and grass to be around. Plus, it won't leave a slimy or trackable residue in its wake.
Best Budget: Road Runner Ice Melt Calcium Chloride Blend
Easy to apply
Only good up to -15 degrees Fahrenheit
Not safe for pets
The Road Runner ice melt is an affordable and hardworking option that's great for most surfaces needing ice melt, especially sidewalks and driveways. The 20-pound bag is small enough that you can apply it without any special equipment (we recommend using gloves), and its de-icing blend of calcium chloride and magnesium chloride works in temperatures as low as -15 degrees. Plus, the bag is resealable, so you don’t need to worry about wasting any unused pellets.
Best for Pets: Sunday Pet Safe Ice Melt
Made of all-natural ingredients
Safe for pets and plants
Sunday's Pet Safe Ice Melt is a great option for pet owners who want the best for their furry friends’ paws. Made with magnesium chloride sourced from the Dead Sea, it has less potential for irritation on skin and plants. It's also less corrosive on other surfaces, like concrete and lawns, so you won't have to worry about any damage there. Just note that you'll get just 7 pounds of product for a moderately high price.
Best for Concrete: Green Gobbler Snow and Ice Melt Pellets
Works on temps up to -40 degrees Fahrenheit
Generates its own heat
Large bucket takes up space
If you live in an extremely cold environment, the Green Gobbler Snow and Ice Melt pellets are a great option to start working on concrete surfaces right away. They actually generate heat to melt ice in temperatures as low as -40 degrees, effectively lowering the refreezing temperature of the surface.
For the easiest application, use a handheld or walk-behind spreader. The ice melt will prevent refreeze on concrete, making it safe for walking for longer periods of time. Just note that the bucket is quite large and might not be as easy to tuck away in a closet.
Best for Asphalt: Bare Ground 5 Gal. Liquid Anti-Snow/De-Icer
Replacing your asphalt after years of rock salt build-up and damage is something that no one wants to do. The Bare Ground liquid de-icer includes a corrosion inhibitor which makes it a great option for more sensitive or porous surfaces like asphalt.
To apply, you'll need to use a sprayer (purchased separately) but can be applied to almost any surface using a standard spray pattern. The company says it's safe to use around plants and pets, although you should take care to make sure they don't ingest it.
Best for Roofs: Roofmelt Ice Melt
Formulated for roofs
Comes in tablets
May require additional equipment
Specifically designed for use on roofs, the Roofmelt Ice Melt comes in a tablet form that can be tossed directly onto the roof of your house, garage, or other building. The ice then melts and drains through the resulting “ice dam” to prevent roof damage from too much ice or water. The pellets work even in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit, making them a good option for many places. Just keep in mind that you may need a ladder to reach your roof, along with a separate carrying pail for your tablets.
Best for Cars: Prestone Windshield De-Icer
As its name suggests, the Prestone Windshield De-Icer is perfect for tackling an icy windshield. Just a few sprays will melt the ice and prevent refreeze, which helps with visibility as well as keeping your car in tip-top shape. For the most stubborn ice spots, the canister has a scraper on top to tackle any slush or remnants. At just 17 ounces, this pressurized canister is an ideal size for stowing in your car—just make sure to keep it away from possible flames.
Best Eco-friendly: ECOS Ice Melt Compound
Not tested on animals
May damage concrete
ECOS has a wide range of eco-friendly cleaning and household products. One of our favorites is their Ice Melt Compound, which is certified as a Safer Choice option by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This means that the product is proven to be both safe and effective, minimizing any negative effects on humans, animals, or the environment.
ECOS's Ice Melt Compound uses magnesium chloride to de-ice at temperatures as low as -14 degrees Fahrenheit. It's fast-acting and appropriate for use on most surfaces—just note that it may cause damage to new concrete or concrete that has numerous cracks.
Our top pick is Snow Joe Premium Environmentally Friendly Blend Ice Melter (view at Walmart). This pellet ice melt is easy to see and spread without breaking the bank. It works for most pet households and won’t damage plants. For those looking for a liquid de-icer, the Bare Ground Liquid Anti-Snow/De-Icer (view at Home Depot) works on porous surfaces and includes a corrosion inhibitor to keep your deck, asphalt, and concrete in great shape.
What to Look for in an Ice Melt
Not all ice melts can be used on every surface. Look for one that is anti-corrosive or formulated for your specific use, such as a roof de-icer. If you aren’t sure, it’s always a good idea to test the ice melt on a small, inconspicuous section before applying it to your entire sidewalk or driveway.
Most ice melts will include the recommended minimum temperature, usually between 0 degrees and -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Most can be used as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit. If you know that your area gets extremely cold temperatures, it’s best to get something that can handle it.
Ice melts generally come in two forms: solid and liquid. Solid ice melts come in pellets that can be sprinkled by hand or with a small handheld or walk-behind sprinkler, similar to grass seed. Liquid ice melt can be sprayed using just about any handheld sprayer. You may need to purchase additional equipment, which can add to the overall cost of your ice melt.
In addition, you can also purchase ice melt made specifically for de-icing roofs. These come in tablets that can be tossed by hand (sometimes with the help of a ladder) onto the roof. After melting, the ice will then run off the roof as water.
The best value usually comes from buying in bulk but you will also need to store large packages of ice melt during the hot, summer months if you don’t want to waste it. Think about how much ice and snow you anticipate getting in one year and stock up accordingly.
At what temperature does ice melt?
At a temperature above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, 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.
How do ice melts with salt work?
Water freezes at temperatures -32 degrees Fahrenheit. 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.
Which type of 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 article was researched and written by Katie Begley, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. Growing up in the Midwest, Katie routinely had to shovel snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways, as well as scrape ice off her car. For this piece, she used her own experience and user reviews to compile the best de-icers for all types of situations.