Melting Ice With Everyday Household Items

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Chester County has gotten slammed with storm and weather “events” over and over this year and as a result, salt and ice melts are scarce.  After the storm Thursday, my minivan was stuck at the bottom of our very steep driveway in a block of ice.  Normally, it isn’t a big deal and we get it out in a day or so, but this part of the driveways sees little sun light and is the lowest point in the driveway where the water pooled as the snow and ice melted on Friday.  On occasions like this we usually have rock salt or some other ice melting agent but this year we have gone through so much of it that we are completely out and after checking with stores and suppliers in the area, we are still on one waiting list and out of luck otherwise.

But, I need my car.  So yesterday I spent some time researching some ways to melt ice with things that we might already have at home. Here’s what I found:


To melt ice there are a few things that work, some only minimally, to melt ice at home.  

1.  Regular table salt and Epsom Salts work just like rock salt to melt the ice.  The problem is that you likely do not have enough to make a big impact.  

2.  Windshield washer fluid is a good option, but highly toxic.  You really only want to use this in an extreme emergency.

3.  Water softening kits and possibly fabric softener work to melt the ice minimally.  The problem with this is that it can also make a slippery mess.

4.  Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) keeps water from freezing, so adding it to warm (not hot) water can help to melt the ice enough to throw on something for traction and get you moving.

5.  Traction can be created by a few different things that you may have around the house:

a) sand

b) dirt

c) fireplace ash

d) cat litter

e) coffee grounds.  They can also be sprinkled over the ice to absorb sunlight and create warmth to lower the surface temperature.

5.  Good old fashioned chipping is a good option if you can are in good health.  

We used a combination of melting, gaining traction on chipping to finally get my van out of the ice and up the hill yesterday afternoon.

I hope that none of you are in a situation where the snow and ice are inhibiting your daily activity but if you are I hope that you have some of these items on hand to test on your own.  I hear that we are in for another minor storm tonight, but anything is too much right now.

Here’s to no accumulation!

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