Alternatives to Salt for Ice Melting

If you live in a part of the country where winter hits with a vengeance you are facing the same problem every year of trying to find an alternative to salt for melting ice. Using salt is not exactly environmentally friendly so each year you search for something that will work for breaking up the ice on your walk way. Basically there is not much on the market that will melt ice like salt will but there are other alternatives that will get you through the winter in safety.

Salt is the ice melting choice for winter. It gives you a lot more than you are asking for such as damage to your walkway, damage to the environment around you and damage to your pet’s paws if you are a pet owner. Even though it is excellent for melting ice there are other alternatives to draw from to get you through the winter safely.


Sand is a product that is commonly used during the winter for ice sidewalks although when it is used by cities to melt ice it is usually mixed with salt. Sand on its own will not melt ice but it will certainly provide a good grip for your footing that will keep you safe from falling. You can purchase bags of sand at your local hardware store or grocery store. It is not a difficult problem to find it. Sprinkle sand liberally over your walkway and it gives you good traction to walk on. By using sand there is no chemical run off from it that can leak into the ground like you find with salt. Sand is very absorbent and can actually absorb chemicals that may build up during the winter from vehicles and other pollutants. Of course there is the matter of clean up when spring arrives.

Kitty litter

When using kitty litter you need to buy the rough gravel type. This can be an alternative to salt when it is spread over icy walk ways. While it will not melt the ice it will give you secure footing without damage to the environment. Kitty litter is also an absorbing product.  Kitty litter can be purchased at any local hardware, grocery or pet store. Once winter has passed you may have to sweep up the excess kitty litter but it is worth it to keep your footing safe when you need it most and there are no chemicals to worry about.


Urea is an alternative to salt but not one that you may want to choose. It is effective at melting ice depending on the temperature but it is also a product that is used as a fertilizer. This means that any drainage from this product has the capability of burning your lawn with the run off when the weather gets warmer. It does give you a little traction but not as much as sand or kitty litter will. There is also another factor to be taken into consideration and that is urea can promote the growth of algae, after all that is what it is made for so it may not be the ideal ice melt you are looking for.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate

This product does not contain any salt and is environmentally friendly. It will not destroy your concrete on your walk way or your lawn. If the temperature drops below -4 C calcium magnesium acetate is not as effective and is actually better used to prevent ice buildup than getting rid of it. It has the potential of giving you moderate footing if it is used in the proper temperature. It is also more expensive than salt so there are some considerations when using this product.

There is nothing on today’s market that will handle ice as well as salt does but there are products that will give you sure footing until the cold weather is over.  Salt can be very corrosive to concrete as well as harmful to your pets if you have any in your home. Do not hesitate to look around and choose another product for the buildup of ice on your sidewalk. It is well worth the effort to you and your family as well as the environment.