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How to Shovel Frozen Snow [5 Snow-Busting Tips]

If you’re tackling icy, packed snow then your best first step is to use a powerful, salt-free deicer before attempting to shovel. This will soften the snow and make shoveling easier. Do not use table salt or rock salt deicer, as these are largely ineffective and poison the ground. When shoveling in icy conditions, spread cat litter or sand where you stand to add traction. Then, make the job easier by spraying your shovel blade with cooking oil to prevent snow from sticking to it. Finally, if these methods don’t defeat the snow, hire a snow removal specialist to clear a path with a snowblower or snowplow.

How to shovel frozen snow

Is Hot Water Good For Melting Snow?

Hot water alone is not a good choice for melting icy snow. Although the hot water may melt the snow, there’s an extremely high chance the water will refreeze into a sheet of ice. This ice will make the surfaces you cleared slick and dangerous to walk on.

  • Hot water poured on snow may refreeze into dangerous, slick ice.
  • Make a 50/50 mix of hot water and rubbing alcohol to create a safe homemade liquid ice melter

If you want to use hot water to melt snow, make sure to make a 50/50 mix of hot water and isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water, which helps prevent refreezing.

5 Ways to Make Shoveling Frozen Snow Easier

If your snow is packed hard due to thaws and refreezing, freezing rain, or just because the snow’s been on the ground for a while, it will be much harder to shovel. Icy snow can defeat even the toughest shovels. You can make your shoveling job much easier by applying these methods:

Use a Strong Deicer

Before you start shoveling, spread a high-quality deicer over the snow. Don’t use rock salt, since it’s ineffective at low temperatures and will harm plants and animals. Instead, opt for a plant-friendly, animal-safe deicer that works at much lower temperatures than traditional salt.

  • Spread this plant and animal-safe deicer on top of snow before you begin shoveling.
  • This deicer works at temperatures down to -2℉ (-19℃), 17 degrees below the point where rock salt stops working.
  • Allow 2–3 hours for the deicer to soften the snow, then start shoveling.

Allow the deicer to work for 2–3 hours before you begin shoveling. This will give the deicer time to melt through the ice that has formed on top of the snow. Sinking your shovel into this softened snow will be much easier.

Avoid Rock Salt and Table Salt

Table salt, rock salt, and similar deicers are terrible choices for melting snow. Not only are these types of salt ineffective at melting snow once temperatures get down to 15℉ (-9℃), they’re also dangerous to use. Rock salt and table salt are both forms of sodium chloride. This type of salt will kill plants, harm the paws of any pets that walk on the salted ground, and will corrode wood and concrete.

  • Avoid using table salt or rock salt to melt frozen snow.
  • These forms of salt are only useful for melting snow down to 15℉ (-9℃).
  • Standard salt deicers will run off paved areas and kill plants and grass.
  • Salt is harmful to your pets’ paws.
  • Traditional salt deicers corrode concrete and wood.

Avoid standard salt deicers whenever possible. If you spread table salt on your driveway or path, it will likely run off into your lawn or garden, killing plants and grass. When spring arrives, your lawn may have several dead spots caused by traditional salt deicers.

Add Traction

If you’re shoveling icy, heavy snow, there’s bound to be a few slick patches in the area. To prevent dangerous slips and falls, spread cat litter or sand in the area where you’ll be shoveling. These simple materials stick to snow and ice, forming a gritty, high-traction surface to stand on.

  • Spread cat litter or sand on any icy or slick patches where you will be shoveling.
  • These materials will stick to icy areas and form a non-slip surface, preventing you from falling as you shovel.
  • Stay safe by wearing high-traction boots while shoveling snow.

In addition to adding traction with these substances, always make sure to wear winter footwear when shoveling snow. A good pair of winter boots are designed to provide traction on snow and ice.

Spray Your Shovel With Cooking Oil

Whether it’s wet snow, fluffy snow, or a frozen mess, we’ve all had snow stick to our shovel. Combat this by spraying the blade of your snow shovel with cooking oil or automotive lubricant. This oily coating will stop snow from sticking to your shovel. This keeps your shovel light and reduces the effort it takes to shovel snow.

  • Spray your shovel blade with cooking spray or mechanical lubricant (such as WD-40) to prevent snow from sticking to your shovel blade.
  • Make sure to spray the shovel blade only. Oil on your shovel handle can make you lose your grip.

Spray your shovel with oil or lubricant while you are indoors, such as in a garage or shed. This way, you can direct the spray to the blade of the shovel only. If the wind carries overspray to the handle, it can make gripping your shovel a challenge.

Hire a Snow Removal Service

If you’ve experienced a big winter storm and are dealing with over a foot of snow, the task of shoveling can be daunting. Rather than tackle those big snowdrifts yourself, consider hiring a snow removal service to come clear your driveway and walking paths.

  • If the snow is too much or too heavy to handle, contact a local snow removal service.
  • Removal services charge a one-time fee to clear snow from your driveway and walking paths.

Most snow removal services clear snow with vehicle-mounted snow plows and/or industrial-grade snow blowers. These devices will make quick work of your frozen snow and will cost much less than purchasing a snowblower for yourself.

How Do You Shovel Snow After it Freezes?

A freeze that puts a hard crust on top of snow can turn even light snow into a shovel-resistant shield. To make matters worse, frozen snow is slick and hard to work in. In order to tackle frozen snow and shovel it away, you should:

  • Use a high-quality deicer that won’t harm your lawn or pets.
  • Avoid using a rock salt or table salt deicer.
  • Wait 2–3 hours for your deicer to soften the frozen snow.
  • Spread cat litter on the ground where you will be shoveling, to add traction.
  • Spray your shovel blade with cooking spray or lubricant before you begin shoveling.
  • Contact a snow removal service if the job is too much for you to tackle alone.

These methods will eat through frozen snow and make shoveling easier. Plus, if you opt to hire a local snow removal service, you can stay warm indoors while the professionals take care of the mess.

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