What to Put on Icy Steps to Add Traction and Melt Ice

When you are trying to de-ice your steps and make them safe for use, it’s important to:

  • Avoid using rock salt and other salt deicers—they work poorly.
  • Use Magnesium Chloride de-icing products on wood steps.
  • Use Calcium Chloride deicer on concrete steps.
  • Use a non-corrosive crystalline amide and glycol de-icer for metal steps.
  • Spread cat litter, sand, or old towels on icy steps for instant traction.
  • Consider adding tread strips to provide permanent traction in icy conditions.

These methods will turn icy surfaces into slip-free zones. By using the right deicer for your steps, you can make the winter months a lot easier. You’ll also prevent damage to your home.

What to put on icy steps

What Methods Should You Avoid Using on Icy Steps?

Do not use rock salt, table salt, sea salt, or water softener salt tablets to de-ice your steps. All of these are made of the same form of salt—sodium chloride. This compound corrodes metal, wood, and concrete steps. Additionally, salt melts ice slowly. It also stops melting ice completely once temperatures get down to 15℉ (-9℃). There are plenty of other de-icing alternatives to use instead of salt.

  • Do not use rock salt or other salt-based products to melt ice on steps.
  • Salt-based deicers damage wood, concrete, and metal steps.
  • Salt won’t melt ice once temperatures drop to 15℉ (-10℃).
  • Do not use a mixture of hot water and vinegar to melt ice on steps.
  • A hot water/vinegar mixture will refreeze on your steps.

Similarly, avoid using mixtures of water and vinegar to melt ice on steps. Vinegar and water freeze at similar temperatures, so a mixture of hot water and vinegar may initially melt ice, but it will then refreeze. This leads to extremely slippery surfaces that are a dangerous hazard.

How Do You Treat Ice on Wooden Steps?

If you want to keep wooden steps ice-free, one of the best ice melt products available is magnesium chloride deicer. It is not damaging to wood and works down to temperatures as low as -10℉ (-23℃). It is also proven to melt ice twice as fast as traditional rock salt.

  • Use this magnesium chloride deicer to melt ice on wooden steps.
  • Magnesium chloride won’t damage your steps, unlike salt.
  • Magnesium chloride is pet and plant safe.

Salt deicers, in addition to working poorly, are damaging to plants and animals. If your pet walks on surfaces with rock salt, their paws can crack, bleed, and suffer chemical burns. Magnesium chloride deicers are pet-safe, so you can melt ice off your wooden steps without risking your pet’s health.

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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What Do You Put on Concrete Steps to Make Ice Melt?

The best deicer for concrete steps is calcium chloride. Other common deicers can discolor, stain, or corrode concrete, but calcium chloride does not. Because it works at temperatures as low as -25°F (-32°C), calcium chloride is also an ideal deicer for extremely cold winter weather.

  • This calcium chloride deicer is the best choice for melting ice on concrete steps.
  • Calcium chloride continues to melt ice in extremely cold weather.
  • Calcium chloride is not safe for use on wood.
  • If you have pets, do not use calcium chloride—it’s not safe for their paws.

Although calcium chloride is great at speeding up the ice melting process on concrete steps, it’s not the perfect choice for all steps. Calcium chloride can damage wood. Additionally, it’s not safe for pets. If your pets will be using the steps, use magnesium chloride or another pet-safe deicer.

Great for Preventing Re-Freezing
Teton's Calcium Chloride Snow & Ice Melt | Mini Pellets | Prevents Re-Freezing
  • Fast-acting and perfect for your driveway, stairs, sidewalk, or parking lot.
  • A powerful solution that melts ice 4 times faster than rock salt while being safer too.
  • These mini pellets won't leave any residue on your shoes to track into your home.
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How Do You Melt Ice on Metal Steps?

Metal is extremely susceptible to rust and corrosion if the wrong deicer is used. That’s why it’s essential to use a non-conductive, non-corrosive deicer. A deicer made from crystalline amide and glycol is our top choice. It works in temperatures as cold as -2°F (-19℃) and won’t harm your metal steps.

In addition to metal steps, crystalline amide and glycol deicers can be used on wood and concrete. It melts ice slightly slower than magnesium and calcium chloride, but it’s 100% pet safe. Like the other deicers on this list, it won’t harm plants and grass. Traditional rock salt deicers kill plants wherever the melted runoff flows.

Pet Safe De-Icer
Safe Paw Ice Melt | Salt and Chloride Free | Non-Toxic | Vet Approved | Fast Acting Formula
  • 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.
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What to Put Down on Icy Steps to Add Traction?

The best thing to do to add traction to your steps and prevent slipping is to add permanent tread strips. These strips make your steps safe to use even in snowy and icy weather. Plus, you won’t have to worry about using de-icer nearly as often. This saves you money in the long run.

  • Install these tread strips on your steps to permanently add traction in icy conditions.
  • Spread cat litter or sand on steps to add instant traction on top of stubborn ice.
  • Lay old towels on top of the layer of ice on your steps to add traction in minutes.

If you don’t have a deicer and want to add traction to your steps immediately, there are several cheap methods. First, you can spread kitty litter or sand on top of the steps. The litter or sand will freeze to the ice and make the steps gritty and safe to walk on. Another option is to spread an old towel on top of each step. The towel will freeze in place and serve as a slip-free surface as you walk up and down your stairs.

Prevent Slipping on Ice on Stairs
Non-Slip Outdoor Stair Tread | Anti-Slip Strips
  • Non-slip adhesive stair tread helps prevent you from slipping in icy conditions.
  • These tread slips are compatible with many outdoor surfaces.
  • Easy-to-use and install.
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How Do You Stop Your Stairs from Being Icy?

If you want to deice your steps in cold temperatures, avoid de-icing salts such as rock salt. These products are corrosive, dangerous to plants and animals, and work poorly. Use magnesium chloride products on wooden steps, calcium chloride to melt ice on concrete steps, and a pet-safe deicer on metal. If you don’t want to wait for deicer to melt a frozen surface, you can add instant traction by spreading cat litter, sand, or old towels over your steps. These items will freeze to slick surfaces and provide traction so you can safely use your stairs.

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