If you need to melt ice off your stairs quickly, make a 50/50 mixture of boiling water and rubbing alcohol, then pour it on the steps. This mixture will melt ice and prevent the water from refreezing. You will get the best results in melting ice fast by avoiding rock salt and other traditional deicers. Magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, and other plant and animal-safe deicers are excellent for melting ice off your stairs quickly.
How Warm Does it Have to Be for Ice Melt to Work?
How quickly an ice melt product works depends on what the deicer is made of. Some de-icing products stop working at relatively high temperatures while others continue to melt ice in extreme cold. Here’s a quick guide to the lowest effective temperature for common ice melt products:
- Potassium Chloride: 25°F (-4℃)
- Sodium Chloride (Rock salt, table salt, sea salt): 15℉ (-10℃)
- Crystalline Amide with Glycol: -2°F (-19℃)
- Magnesium Chloride: -10℉ (-23℃)
- Calcium Chloride: -25°F (-32°C)
- Potassium Formate: -63°F (-53°C)
In addition to not melting ice below these effective temperatures, ice melt products become less useful the closer the outside temperatures get to their lowest effective point. So, rock salt may melt ice well when the temperature is above 25°F (-4℃), but as temperatures get lower, it melts ice very slowly.
5 Ways to Quickly Melt Ice on Stairs
If you need to melt ice quickly then it’s best to forget about rock salt and other inefficient deicers. Although it can be faster to put something on your outside steps to prevent slipping, sometimes you want to clear the ice off instead. Here are the fastest techniques for melting ice.
Hot Water and Rubbing Alcohol
Make a 50/50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and hot water and pour this mixture on your icy steps. The high temperature of the mixture will eat through the ice while the alcohol will prevent the water from refreezing. However, rubbing alcohol will discolor and damage wood steps, so it’s best used on concrete or metal stairs.
This magnesium chloride deicer melts ice twice as fast as rock salt. Because it melts ice at temperatures 35 degrees colder than traditional salt, it makes quick work of icy steps in cold weather. Plus, magnesium chloride is safe for wood, metal, and concrete steps. It’s also safe for pets to walk on and the melted runoff won’t kill plants and grass.
- 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.
Our favorite pet-safe deicer is made from crystalline amide and glycol. This makes it one of the safest deicers for pet owners since it won’t harm your pets’ paws, unlike salt. It also melts ice down to -2°F (-19℃) and gets the job done quickly. We recommend keeping a pail of this on hand if you want to keep your steps ice-free for your furry friends.
- 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.
Calcium chloride deices surfaces down to very low temperatures—up to 40 degrees below the point where rock salt stops working. It will eat through ice very quickly even in cold temperatures. If you have concrete steps, calcium chloride is the best choice, since it won’t damage concrete. However, it can corrode and discolor wood, so it’s not great for all types of stairs.
Liquid deicers tend to work faster than granular deicers. That is doubly true of this liquid potassium formate deicer. It continues to work even if temperatures plummet to -63°F (-53°C), so it melts ice very quickly in higher temperatures. Potassium formate was designed to melt ice on airport runways in arctic conditions, so it’s guaranteed to be a powerful solution for iced-over steps.
- Melts ice without chlorine while being non-conductive.
- Fully biodegradable.
- Non-toxic and safe around pets and plants.
How to Use Ice Melt to Thaw Frozen Stairs Fast
Ice melt works faster when it is used early and often. When winter precipitation such as snow, freezing rain, or sleet is in the forecast for the day, preemptively spread a deicer on your steps. This will cause falling snow to melt as it lands, creating a brine layer that resists freezing.
- Spread ice melt on your stairs when winter precipitation is incoming.
- As soon as snowfall stops, clear loose snow off stairs with a broom.
- Spread ice melt on top of icy residue after sweeping the stairs.
If the snowfall is so intense that your steps are blanketed, don’t just spread more deicer on top of the slippery steps. Instead, use a push broom or snow shovel for snow removal. Then, sprinkle deicer on top of the icy stairs. With a few inches of snow cleared, the deicer will work faster to melt snow and ice.
Can You Melt Ice On Steps With Water?
It’s a bad idea to use hot water alone to melt ice on your steps. Although the water may melt the ice initially, that hot water will soon cool and refreeze. You’ll be left with an invisible, extremely slick layer of ice on your steps. This creates a massive slipping hazard. Always mix your hot water with an equal portion of isopropyl alcohol to lower the freezing point. That way, you can melt ice on your stairs and prevent it from re-forming.
How Do You Dissolve Ice On Stairs?
The best methods to melt ice on slippery steps are:
- Pour a 50/50 mixture of warm water and rubbing alcohol on the icy steps.
- Use a magnesium chloride deicer that works twice as fast as traditional salt.
- Try a pet-friendly deicer with glycol and crystalline amide.
- Spread calcium chloride deicer on concrete steps.
- A potassium formate liquid deicer works very quickly to melt ice.
By getting the right de-icing product for your steps, you’ll have a simple solution that will keep your steps ice-free during the winter months. Just remember, rock salt works slowly and poorly, but other deicers are far faster and more effective.