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Most ice melts work in one of two ways: by lowering the freezing point of water or by increasing its temperature. Surprisingly, most products that contain sodium chloride (common table salt) lower the freezing point of water and are therefore not effective when used alone on the ice.

The exception to this is rock salt, which is roughly 97 percent sodium chloride and lowers the freezing point of water to about 15 degrees below zero. The rate of ice melting is related to how fast the salt dissolves, and rock salt also contains chemicals like calcium chloride and magnesium chloride that help it dissolve more quickly, and thus work faster.

The most effective de-icers (those that increase the temperature) include other salts, such as calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. These salts work by melting the ice at temperatures just above the 32-degree freezing point of water.

A number of other chemicals can also be used to melt ice, including some fertilizers, but these are not generally recommended because they may damage plants or grass. The salt-type chemicals mentioned earlier are the most common ice-melt chemicals on the market and can work well on walkways, steps, driveways, and roads. Many ice melt products also contain chemicals that prevent ice formation in the first place, known as anti-icing agents.

I would like to highlight some factors you can consider in order to narrow down your research for the best ice melt.

Best Ice Melt

ImageProductOur RatingPrice
Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt Fast Acting Treatment

Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt Fast Acting Treatment

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Snow Joe AZ-25-EB-BKT Melt-2-Go Nature + Pet Friendly CMA Blended Ice Melter

Snow Joe AZ-25-EB-BKT Melt-2-Go Nature + Pet Friendly CMA Blended Ice Melter

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Safe Paw, Child Plant Dog Paw & Pet Safe Ice Melt -8lb

Safe Paw, Child Plant Dog Paw & Pet Safe Ice Melt -8lb

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Safe Paw, Child Plant Dog Paw & Pet Safe Ice Melt -35lb

Safe Paw, Child Plant Dog Paw & Pet Safe Ice Melt -35lb

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Scotwood Industries 50P-RR Road Runner Premium Ice Melter, 50-Pound

Scotwood Industries 50P-RR Road Runner Premium Ice Melter, 50-Pound

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Snow Joe AZ-50-EB Ice Melter, 50-lb Bag

Snow Joe AZ-50-EB Ice Melter, 50-lb Bag

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Scotwood 50B-RR Ice Melt Pellet, 50lb Bag, Road Runner

Scotwood 50B-RR Ice Melt Pellet, 50lb Bag, Road Runner

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Earthborn Elements Snow Melt (1 Gallon) Fast-Acting Pellets

Earthborn Elements Snow Melt (1 Gallon) Fast-Acting Pellets

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National Blue Ice Melt 20lb Bucket - Fast Acting Ice Melter

National Blue Ice Melt 20lb Bucket – Fast Acting Ice Melter

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Branch Creek Entry Chloride-Free, Non- Toxic, Snow and Ice Melt

Branch Creek Entry Chloride-Free, Non- Toxic, Snow and Ice Melt

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Last update on 22nd March 2023 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our Recommended Ice Melt:

Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt Fast Acting Treatment

Editor’s Choice
9.7/10 Our Score
  • MELTS SNOW AND ICE IN FRIGID TEMPERATURES (as low as -10°F): Pet Safe will generate exothermic heat over a short period of time. In a test, our product melted twice as much ice as rock salt in 21°F!
  • MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE FORMULA HARVESTED FROM THE DEAD SEA. Magnesium chloride ice melt has a notoriously low toxicity level making it less toxic than calcium, potassium or sodium chloride.
  • SAFER FOR PETS AND THE ENVIRONMENT. Pet Safe is highly unlikely to burn or irritate the skin or pets paws. Pet Safe won’t harm plants or cause spalling on driveways and concrete that’s been properly set and cured.
  • PERFECT FOR SPREADERS. Because of its small, round pellet shape, Pet Safe can be used in various ice melt spreaders.
  • 30 DAY HASSLE FREE MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. We value our customers and we stand behind ALL of our products 100% with no questions asked! If you are not pleased simply call or email us with your order number and we will reimburse you in FULL!

Last update on 22nd March 2023 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is probably the most popular product on the market for the simple reason it just works! This ice melt option from Green Gobbler can be found in 10, 15, and 35 lbs package to pick the right size for your needs, and can be found at a very attractive price online. This product is designed to work in low temperatures and can provide results even in extreme winter conditions that reach -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is based on a magnesium chloride formula that is safe for your pets, concrete, or asphalt. It is vital to pick a formula that is safe to use, won’t irritate your pet’s paw on contact, or risk corrosion.

Thanks to its pellet shape, this is ideal to use with any melt spreader and covers a wide area equally without hustle. Overall, this is a powerful and effective product that works as intended even in extreme weather conditions. This is a worthy investment that will help you face the winter months without breaking the bank. If you are worried about the ice melt while your pets are nearby, this product is the safest bet as it will not cause any issues if ingested or come in contact.

Snow Joe AZ-25-EB-BKT Melt-2-Go Nature + Pet Friendly CMA Blended Ice Melter

9.5/10 Our Score
  • PET FRIENDLY: Formulated from nature’s own ingredients, EB Ice Melt provides a greener solution to deicing that is safer for pets. Unlikely to irritate paws or cause rashes.
  • ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE: Leaves no slimy residue behind, making it safe to use on grass, turf, around trees and other vegetation. Protects surrounding hardscapes and softscapes when used as directed.
  • SAFE TO HANDLE: When used as directed, EB Ice Melt will not dry out or irritate the skin and can be safely and easily dispensed without requiring the use of protective clothing. MELT EB is specially treated with an anti-caking agent to extend shelf-life and improve dispersion.
  • FAST-ACTING IN FREEZING TEMPERATURES: Goes to work immediately upon contact with snow and ice to accelerate the deicing and melting process. Pre-treating surfaces will also prevent ice and snow from accumulating.
  • ANTI-CORROSION FORMULA: Enhanced with CMA (calcium magnesium acetate), an environmentally benign deicing agent, EB Ice Melt delivers fast and effective results without damaging surfaces such as concrete or metals.

Last update on 22nd March 2023 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The ice melter from Snow Joe is another popular option you should consider if you are looking for an effective product that won’t break the bank. This product is intended to work in freezing temperatures and accelerate the melting process even in extreme conditions. This is a great budget-friendly option that will help prevent snow and ice accumulation on surfaces, a great and effective solution to have available at your disposal.

This ice melt is based on a calcium magnesium acetate that promises fast results and comes in color-coated crystals to help visually measure. It is pet-friendly and won’t harm your plants, concrete, or metal surfaces. Overall, this is a well-researched product that works as intended and is made with pets and the environment in mind. If you are looking for a safe-to-handle and fast-acting solution, this one is worth having a closer look at while researching for an ice melt.

How to Use Ice Melts

The primary benefit of ice melts is that they can be very effective, particularly when combined with good shoveling techniques and common sense. The more you shovel the better it works.

It is important to remove snow from roofs, gutters and porches before applying ice melt products. When using ice melts on a driveway or road, it’s helpful to use a broom to brush the product down into any cracks where water may be seeping up through the pavement.

Though ice melts are considered safe, you should still always use them with care. The chemicals in ice melt products may irritate your skin and eyes, and can also harm plants and grass. It’s best to wear gloves when applying ice melts and try to keep the de-icer away from any desirable vegetation.

As with most substances that lower the freezing point of water, salt wind can cause damage to nearby metal components such as cars, mailboxes and power lines. Do not use ice melts on a windy day or when there is a chance that the ice melt will get into nearby waterways.

Types of Ice Melts And Their Benefits

Most ice melts fall into two categories: chloride and non-chloride. Chloride ice melts work by lowering the freezing point of water and can include compounds such as magnesium chloride and calcium chloride.

Most brands you buy in a hardware store use one of these ingredients. Non-chloride ice melts, which are sometimes called potassium or urea ice melts, work by increasing the temperature at which water freezes and can include chemicals like ammonium nitrate and sodium ferrocyanide.

Calcium Chloride

It tends to be fairly effective at low temperatures but breaks down quickly in the sun or when exposed to water, so it’s usually applied in granular form rather than liquid.

Calcium chloride is also available in an anti-icing form, which means it prevents ice from forming on the surface but doesn’t melt what’s already there. That makes calcium chloride ideal for sidewalks or steps that are often exposed to water because it won’t dissolve away when they get wet.

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride is another popular choice for ice melts. It’s usually sold as a liquid or in pucks, and it works by breaking down the bonding structures of water molecules to increase the temperature at which ice forms. That means magnesium chloride can melt ice at temperatures just above freezing, a crucial advantage over rock salt.

Though magnesium chloride products tend to be more expensive, they’re usually better at melting ice and don’t damage concrete or asphalt surfaces. Some de-icers also include other minerals that help the magnesium chloride last longer, like sodium and potassium nitrate.

Sodium Chloride

Sodium chloride, or rock salt, is the cheapest and most common ice melt chemical in use today. It works by lowering the temperature at which water freezes (the same process that makes it so effective on icy roads), but it does not actually melt ice until temperatures reach 15 degrees or lower.

In order to be effective at lower temperatures many rock salt products contain other chemicals that help the sodium chloride work at lower temperatures. The potassium in potassium chloride enhances the effectiveness of sodium chloride by helping it start working even when it’s wet, while magnesium helps prevent damage to concrete and asphalt.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate

These are another type of non-chloride ice melt, but unlike potassium acetate they don’t work by increasing the temperature at which water freezes. That means they need to be applied in colder temperatures, around 25 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Calcium magnesium acetate is quite similar to rock salt when it comes to how it works. It’s abrasive, so it breaks up ice rather than melting it, and it also helps prevent snow from sticking to surfaces. Because this type of de-icer works best at lower temperatures, its primary use is on bridges and roads where lower temperatures are common.

What Types of Ice Melt Are Harmful?

Pet safety is a big concern with any ice melt product because pets are much more likely to ingest it. While you should never use solvent-based products around your pet, even common rock salt will cause gastrointestinal problems if ingested in large quantities.

While most pet-specific ice melts use potassium acetate, which is not toxic to pets when ingested in small amounts, there are many other types that can be just as dangerous.

If you’re using calcium chloride or magnesium chloride on your property, pay attention to where your pet goes and use a pet-safe ice melt product on those areas. If you’re not sure if a product is safe for your pet, check the label or call the manufacturer before putting it on your property.

Why You Should Use Ice Melt to Keep Your Driveway Safe

Things to Consider When Looking for the Best Ice Melt:

Ice Melt Form

Different ice melts are available in different forms, ranging from liquid to granular or pellets. You’ll need to choose the form that works best for your situation, but keep in mind that your choice can affect how much you use and where it goes.

Liquid products are best for large areas where you want to cover a lot of ground, while pellets have the advantage of being easier to handle. You’ll also generally need to use less liquid ice melt than pellets, which makes it more cost effective in some cases.

For better melting power, choose a product with multiple additives. Not only do these products have a higher melting power, but they’re also ideal for use on elevated surfaces or uneven ground because they can break up ice even in those conditions.

There’s also a matter of convenience to consider here. If you’re planning on using ice melt in the middle of winter, pellets may be more difficult to carry and pour than liquid de-icers.

Odor and Corrosive Effects

Another important consideration is odor and corrosiveness. While rock salt products don’t have much of an odor, liquid and pellet de-icers can leave a strong (and potentially harmful) smell behind.

Liquid de-icers also tend to be more corrosive than pellets because the chemicals they contain dissolve quickly once in contact with snow and ice. For that reason, you’ll want to use a pet-safe version if your pets will be walking on the same outdoor surfaces as you.

When it comes to corrosiveness, keep in mind that most pet-safe ice melts aren’t actually safe for your pets if ingested. Look for a product with a low toxicity rating and be sure to pay attention to where your dog goes outside so they don’t ingest any potentially harmful deicers while you’re out there.

Take the time to choose the right ice melt for your needs, and everyone in your household can enjoy a safe winter season.

Surface Type

Different ice melts work well on different surfaces. You’ll need to choose a product that’s appropriate for the surface in your yard and on your driveway, although you may want to choose one type of ice melt for sidewalks and another for driveways if you have a lot of them.

Rock salt is ideal for asphalt or concrete, while calcium magnesium acetate is best for concrete or asphalt with gravel on top. Potassium acetate is ideal for any type of surface including grass, but it’s corrosive to metals so avoid using it near metal surfaces.

For the most effective melting power even in high temperatures, choose a product that contains more than one additive. You’ll likely want to use a rock salt product on your asphalt or concrete if you live in a climate where it doesn’t get too cold, but there are many products that work well on every type of surface even in hot weather.

Pack Size

One of the most important considerations here is pack size. You’ll want to get an idea of how much ice melt you’ll need before buying, and keep in mind that ice melts are sold by weight. If your favorite product isn’t available locally, buy it online so you can get the pack size you need without having to pay for shipping again.

Also note that liquid de-icers tend to be more expensive per pound than pellets or other forms, so if you have a small area to cover or are looking for the most cost effective choice, pellets may be your best option.

Melting Time and Longevity

Different ice melts have different melting times. Pellets melt faster than liquid products, while some pellets have a faster melting time than others. For the fastest response time possible when temperatures change rapidly, choose a product that contains both large and small pellets. The amount of ice or snow you’re dealing with matters too, so keep in mind the size of your surface as you compare melting times.

Some ice melts are designed to melt quickly, while others can last through multiple thaw cycles. The product you select will be determined by the amount of melting power required for your application.

For example, if you have a long driveway or sidewalk to cover, you’ll want something that lasts longer so you won’t have to keep re-treating it during a thaw cycle. If your sidewalk is only a few feet long and you don’t expect temperatures to get below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can probably use an ice melt with a faster melting time because you’ll only be treating the surface once or twice.

Don’t choose multiple products for different sections of your yard – it takes too long to switch between them when freezing temperatures hit or temperatures rise. Instead, choose an ice melt with the right melting power so you can treat your entire surface at once without worrying about multiple thaw cycles.

Safety and Environmental Considerations

Different types of ice melts pose different safety and environmental hazards. Even if a product is safe for your pets, it may not be healthy for grass or other vegetation in the area around your home. Look for products with low toxicity levels if you have children or pets in or around your yard so they won’t accidentally ingest anything harmful when going outside during the winter.

It’s also important to consider environmental impact when choosing an ice melt. Rock salt can cause damage to vegetation and groundwater, making it a safer choice for driveways but not sidewalks or other areas where you want to avoid harming grass and your yard as much as possible.

Many products are safe for the environment and won’t harm grass or other vegetation or leave behind a residue, making them a good choice for sidewalks and other hardscapes where you want to avoid harming the natural landscape.

Some ice melts can leave behind a white residue when it’s dry out, but this happens less often with products formulated specifically for moist environments. If your area gets plenty of snowfall in winter, choose one with low or no residue so you won’t have to deal with unsightly white streaks on your walkway. Try to avoid ice melts that produce black ash, especially if your area has lots of trees and vegetation you want to protect.

Cost and Ease of Use

Another thing to consider when selecting the finest ice melt for your requirements is the price. It’s a good idea to compare prices of various ice melt products before making a decision to find one that fits your budget.

You’ll also want to think about whether or not you can simply pour the stuff from its original container onto surfaces where it is required. Pellet and liquid forms are generally more difficult to handle than rock salt, but they’re easier to use for large areas or elevated surfaces.

Temperature and Weather Conditions

Finally, you’ll need to choose an ice melt based on temperature and weather conditions. Of course, rock salt is ideal for colder climates where it gets below freezing, but other products like calcium magnesium acetate are better suited to warmer climates.

The best time to use liquid ice melts is in the middle of winter when temperatures are above freezing; rock salt products work best in these colder climates. Pellet ice melt is ideally suited for warmer climates where the temperature doesn’t frequently get below freezing, and it’s also easily visible when spread on surfaces so you can track its effectiveness.


Will ice melt ruin my driveway?

No, but you may want to consider using a product with a higher melting point so it doesn’t have to be applied as often. This will also reduce any damage caused by salt use.

Are ice melts safe around pets?  

Most ice melts with low toxicity levels are safe for pets if they accidentally ingest them, but you should still keep all pet food and water dishes away from places where ice melt has been used.

How long will it take for ice melt to work?

It is determined by the kind of goods you are using and how much surface area needs to be treated. Rock salt and other solid types of ice melts typically work within a few hours, though it may take longer if there’s a lot of snow on the ground. Liquid and pellet forms can take several days to completely melt through layers of ice because they work more slowly than rock salt to reduce the amount of environmental impact.

Is it better to put ice melt down before or after it snows?

Ice melts typically work within a few hours, though it may take longer if there’s a lot of snow on the ground. Liquid and pellet forms can take several days to completely melt through layers of ice because they work more slowly than rock salt to reduce the amount of environmental impact.

Is it possible to use ice melt on wood?

Yes, but it’s best to use systems specially formulated for wood surfaces. These products are generally less corrosive than other forms of ice melt so they won’t damage your deck or landscaping.

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