How to Get Rid of Thick Ice on Your Driveway [5 Quick Tips]

If you want to remove thick ice buildup from your driveway, use a salt-free deicer that won’t corrode concrete or harm plants. Then, spread sand or cat litter on the ice to provide traction as your work. Now, you’re ready to attack the ice with a sturdy shovel, pry bar, or other hand tools. Alternatively, you can pour a homemade ice melt solution made from rubbing alcohol and hot water onto the ice. This will eat through the ice and clear your driveway in no time.

How to get rid of thick ice on driveway

Will Salt Get Rid of Thick Ice?

Traditional rock salt and table salt are not good deicers for your driveway. First, rock salt only melts ice at temperatures above 15℉ (-9℃). If temperatures are below this point, your salt won’t do anything to melt the ice. Second, rock salt is toxic to plants and harmful to animals. The runoff from salt will kill the plants and grass around your driveway. If your pet walks on the ground where salt deicer has been spread, it will damage their paws.

  • Standard rock salt deicers are not a good option for clearing thick ice from your driveway.
  • Rock salt won’t melt ice if temperatures are below 15℉ (-9℃).
  • Salt deicers are harmful to plants, grass, and pets.
  • Try this pet-safe Magnesium Chloride deicer that is effective down to -10℉ (-23℃).

Use an alternative to sodium chloride (rock salt and table salt). Many varieties of ice melt work at far lower temperatures, making them better choices. Plus, there are plant and animal-safe deicers on the market. Although magnesium chloride and calcium chloride are good choices, there are additional options we’ll cover below.

Fast Acting Ice Melt
Green Gobbler Ice Melt | Pet-Safe and Fast Acting | Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt Pellets | Safe Around Plants
  • Melts snow and ice in frigid cold temperatures (as low as -10°F).
  • Safe for pets and the environment and won't harm paws or plants.
  • Small, round pellets make for easy dispersal on driveways and steps.
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Does Ice Melt Ruin Your Driveway?

In addition to its other drawbacks, rock salt corrodes your driveway. Using traditional salt deicers can discolor or cause pitting of your driveway’s surface. The same goes for water softener pellets and other salt products that contain sodium chloride. Avoid using these tactics to tackle driveway ice.

  • Rock salt (sodium chloride) deicers can corrode and discolor your driveway.
  • Corrosive sodium chloride salt is found in rock salt, table salt, and water softener pellets.
  • Choose a non-corrosive deicer, such as Magnesium Chloride, or a salt-free product.

Use a gentle deicer, such as Magnesium Chloride, or opt for a salt-free deicer. These formulas are safe for use on driveways, as well as wood decks and other surfaces that may be harmed by salt.

Does Vinegar Melt Ice On Your Driveway?

Vinegar is not a good deicing product. Vinegar freezes at 28℉ (-2℃), which is only a few degrees below the freezing point of water. If you pour vinegar onto your driveway, it is most likely to freeze and form a fresh sheet of ice, even if it is mixed with hot water.

  • Vinegar is not a good deicer because it freezes at a similar temperature to water.
  • Vinegar used as ice melt is prone to refreezing and adding to ice buildup.
  • Mix hot water with rubbing alcohol for a freeze-resistant deicer.

We prefer a 50/50 mix of hot water and rubbing alcohol. 70% isopropyl alcohol won’t freeze until it reaches -2℉ (-19℃). This makes it a far more effective deicer since it is less likely to freeze than vinegar.

5 Ways to Remove Thick Ice From Your Driveway

If you’ve got a thick layer of ice buildup on your driveway, then your snow shovel is no match for this battle. What you need are powerful methods of melting, softening, and breaking up thick ice fast. With these tips, your driveway will be safe for cars and foot traffic quickly.

Salt-Free Deicer

Don’t waste your time with ineffective salt deicers. This salt-free deicer melts ice at temperatures as low as -2℉ (-19℃). Plus, unlike salt, runoff from this deicer won’t kill your lawn or harm your pets. Spread this deicer on top of the ice and allow 2–3 hours for it to work. By then, the ice should be a lot easier to remove.

Top Pet-Safe Ice Melt
Safe Paw Ice Melt | Child, Plant, Dog Paw & Pet Safe | 100% Salt and Chloride Free | Non-Toxic
  • Guaranteed to melt at low temperatures (-2°F).
  • Vet recommended formula that is safe for your pets and their paws.
  • Non-corrosive and long shelf for long-term effective results.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Add Traction

Working to bust through ice is slippery, dangerous work. Before you set foot on your slick driveway, add some traction. Spread sand or kitty litter on the ice. These substances will adhere to the ice and form a no-slip surface. Now, you can get a firm footing and start clearing that ice.

Metal Shovel

A flimsy plastic snow shovel won’t do much good against a thick sheet of ice. Instead, reach for a metal shovel. Find an edge to the ice sheet and wedge the shovel blade beneath it. With a little pushing, the ice you’ve softened with your ice melt will crumble or break apart. Then, you can scoop it and toss it aside.

Hand Tools

Is the layer of ice on your driveway so thick that even ice melt and a sturdy shovel leave some stubborn spots? Attack it with an ice-breaking tool. You can take your pick from sledgehammers and pickaxes, but we prefer this pinch point bar. It requires a lot less swinging and smashing, which could damage your concrete. Instead, a pinch bar is designed to get beneath something heavy and lever it up. It will allow you to pry thick ice off your driveway easily.

Manual Ice Remover
Pinch Point Bar
  • Easily break up ice.
  • You can use it as a lever underneath large chunks of ice.
  • Allows you to easily pry ice off your driveway or other hard surfaces.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Hot Water and Alcohol

If you’re melting ice in stubborn places such as steps and walkways that lead to your driveway, opt for a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and hot water. Bring the water to a boil on the stove, add the alcohol, and pour the mixture on the ice. The hot water will eat through the existing ice and the rubbing alcohol will prevent it from refreezing. In no time at all, you’ll clear ice from concrete.

How Do You Get Thick Ice Off Your Driveway?

When a buildup of snow turns to ice, or when freezing rain strikes, you can be left with a skating rink for a driveway. To deice these slippery surfaces:

  • Use a salt-free deicer that works at low temperatures and won’t damage your driveway.
  • Spread cat litter or sand on the ice to provide traction to the surface.
  • Use a metal-bladed shovel to pry up ice after the deicer has softened it.
  • In the case of stubborn ice, break it up with a sledgehammer, or use a pinch point bar to pry it off your driveway.
  • Treat stubborn patches of ice with a 50/50 mix of hot water and alcohol to melt ice.

These tactics are effective, won’t break the bank, and work whether you’ve got a concrete, gravel, or asphalt driveway.

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