The best way to prevent snow from sticking to your driveway and other paved surfaces is by applying a specialized deicer product to the concrete before the snow arrives. Use a concrete-safe deicer such as Magnesium Chloride or Calcium Chloride. Avoid using rock salt or table salt, as these deicers will corrode concrete and kill grass and plants surrounding your driveway. If you prefer not to use a deicer, spread a tarp on your driveway, then remove the tarp and snow at the same time after snowfall.
Should You Put Ice Melt Down Before it Snows?
Ice melt products are most effective when they are applied to a concrete surface before snowfall. By applying the deicer before the first flakes hit your driveway, you allow your deicer to melt the snow as it lands. This prevents a briny layer that prevents snow and ice from bonding to your concrete. There are few feelings better than looking out the window after snowfall to see your driveway is snow-free without any shoveling or snowblowing.
- Deicers are most effective when applied to bare concrete before snow arrives.
- Deicers have limited success when they are only applied on top of snow.
- For optimal results apply deicer before, during, and after large winter storms.
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While deicers applied on top of snow will help to eat through snow and ice buildup, this process is much slower and less effective than pre-treating your driveway. Even the best deicer can be overwhelmed by heavy snow though. To keep your driveway snow-free, apply deicer before, during, and after a large storm. This will clear your driveway quickly and drastically reduce your shoveling work.
Additionally, things like sand or cat litter can provide traction and prevent slipping, but they don’t actively work to melt snow or ice.
What Do You Put on Your Driveway Before Snow? 5 Snow and Ice Prevention Tips
When treating your driveway to stop snow and ice from building up, it’s important to choose a method that fits the following criteria:
- Keeps the driveway snow-free even in extremely low temperatures.
- Won’t damage concrete.
- Safe for plants, grass, and pets.
The following methods fit these criteria. You’ll keep your driveway clear for use no matter how many inches of snow winter throws your way.
One of the best ways to protect your driveway from snow and ice, as well as prevent harm to plants and animals, is to avoid salt products altogether. “Chloride-free” products contain glycol instead of salt, making them safe for concrete and living organisms. Plus, they work to melt snow and ice at temperatures down to -2℉ (-19℃).
- This chloride-free deicer is one of the least corrosive deicers on the market.
- By avoiding all chloride-based products, you ensure that the deicer won’t damage your driveway surfaces or kill plants.
- Non-salt deicers are effective down to -2℉ (-19℃).
- No-salt formulas prevent harm to your pet’s paws.
If your pets walk on your driveway or other surfaces where you plan to spread deicer, opt for a chloride-free product. The rock salt in traditional deicers can cause painful damage to the pads of your furry friend’s feet. Chloride-free deicer, on the other hand, is not harmful to pets.
- 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.
Magnesium Chloride deicer is one of the best options for treating your driveway. Not only is it less corrosive to concrete than rock salt, table salt, and other common deicers, it is also effective down to much lower temperatures. Magnesium Chloride melts ice down to -10℉ (-23℃). In comparison, rock salt (sodium chloride) is only effective at melting snow and ice at temperatures above 15℉ (-9℃).
- This Magnesium Chloride deicer is a top choice for preventing snow and ice buildup on your driveway.
- Magnesium Chloride melts snow at temperatures down to -10℉ (-23℃).
- Deicers with Magnesium Chloride won’t kill plants or harm your pets.
Another huge benefit of Magnesium Chloride as a deicer is that it is not toxic to plants. As the melted snow runs off your driveway into your lawn, it carries deicer with it. While standard salt-based deicers will kill grass and poison the ground, Magnesium Chloride won’t have that effect.
- 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.
If you live in a region that experiences extreme cold, Calcium Chloride is the solution for you. This deicer works down to temperatures as low as -40℉ (-40℃). With this deicer on hand, you’ll be able to weather any winter storm in the US and Canada.
- This calcium chloride deicer melts snow and ice on your driveway at temperatures as low as -40℉ (-40℃).
- Calcium Chloride is more corrosive to concrete than Magnesium Chloride or chloride-free deicers, so only choose it for extreme winter conditions.
Although Calcium Chloride is slightly more corrosive to concrete than Magnesium Chloride, it causes less damage to your driveway than rock salt. Given the fact that Calcium Chloride can handle extreme winter conditions, this is a worthwhile tradeoff.
While the other options for keeping snow from sticking to your driveway are granular products, Potassium Formate is a non-corrosive, plant- and animal-safe deicer that comes in liquid form. It forms a layer of freeze-resistant brine that melts snow and ice at lower temperatures than any other deicer. It works down to -63℉ (-52℃).
- This liquid deicer melts snow and ice down to -63℉ (-52℃).
- Spread liquid deicer on flat driveways and paths. It will flow downhill if sprayed on a sloped driveway.
- Because it contains no chlorides, Potassium Formate is very safe for plants and animals.
While a granular deicer is a better choice for sloped driveways, liquid deicers like Potassium Formate are great for flat driveways, sidewalks, and patios. Because this deicer is chloride-free, it’s non toxic to plants and animals. If you want to keep your pets and lawn safe in extreme cold, this is the choice for you.
- Melts ice without chlorine while being non-conductive.
- Fully biodegradable.
- Non-toxic and safe around pets and plants.
Use a Tarp
If you don’t want to spread a snow melt chemical, you can use a physical barrier to prevent snow and ice from forming on your driveway. One of the best ways to do this is by spreading a heavy-duty tarp on your driveway prior to snowfall. Weigh down the side of the tarp with boards or bricks and let the snow fall. After the snow ceases, remove the tarp and snow all at once.
- Spread a durable tarp over your driveway and weigh the sides down before snow arrives.
- After it stops snowing, remove the tarp and snow at once, revealing a pristine driveway.
- The tarp method is not effective if snow has already fallen.
- Very heavy snowfall can weigh down the tarp, making it hard to move.
Unlike deicers, a tarp won’t do anything if the snow has already fallen. Plus, a heavy snowfall can bury the tarp under massive loads of snow, making moving it impossible by hand. This method is best used when a light snowfall is incoming.
What Can You Put On Your Driveway to Prevent Ice and Snow Buildup?
You can keep your driveway free of snow and ice without snow blowers, shovels, or other backbreaking snow removal techniques. The best measures are preventative and involve spreading deicer before snow begins to fall. The top choices for melting snow as it comes down on your driveway are:
- Chloride-free deicers that are safe for concrete, plants, and pets.
- Magnesium Chloride deicers that are safer and far more effective than rock salt.
- Granular Calcium Chloride deicer for extreme cold conditions.
- Liquid Potassium Formate deicer that prevents freezing in all conditions and is environmentally safe.
- Spread a tarp over your driveway to collect snow as it falls.
Each of these methods prevents packed snow from accumulating on your driveway. Instead, the deicing products will melt snow as it touches down, preventing ice accumulation. Your driveway will be safe for both vehicle and foot traffic if you use one or more of these methods.