Driveway Deicer Time?

Driveway Deicer: Your Foe in the Battle Against Unwanted Visitors

When the in-laws come to visit in the winter, there may be a nagging thought in the back of your mind: Will they be able to get home if the weather gets bad? If your driveway turns into an icy slope when the temperature drops, your guests may very well wear out their welcome. However, with proper application of driveway deicer, your visitors won’t have to worry about being stuck in your driveway and you won’t have to host for longer than planned.

Traction Improvement

Man shoveling icy drivewayThere are a number of options if you want to improve traction on your driveway. Sand, grit and kitty litter all work well, and they’re cheap and widely available. While these items don’t melt ice, they stick to it pretty well, which improves traction for tires and boots. Further, these options are non-toxic and easy to apply.

If you have a wood stove, you can also use the ashes on your driveway. If you go this route, be sure ashes are completely cooled before storing, as embers can stay hot enough to ignite other things even in cold temperatures.

Driveway Deicer and Anti-Icer Solutions

Usually sold in bags or buckets, driveway deicers such as halite (rock salt), magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride and potassium acetate are stronger alternatives for icy situations. After shoveling your sidewalks and driveway, simply sprinkle the product on the surface. The nice thing about these driveway deicers is that you can put them down even after ice has formed, and the chemicals will still melt ice and improve traction.

Unlike driveway deicers, anti-icers are applied before ice has a chance to form, generally as soon as it starts to snow. Typical homeowner anti-icing products are made of the same chemicals mentioned above, but they come in a liquid form so you can spray your driveway. Anti-icers work great if used as directed, but they’re not as effective if applied to existing ice.

Deicer Precautions

  • Each product works best at different temperatures. For instance, rock salt works down to 15°F, and calcium chloride down to -25°F. Read labels carefully to pick the product that’s best suited for your environment.
  • Some deicers may be toxic to plants and animals. Use these chemicals only where there’s limited risk of exposure — i.e. far away from the house cat and your honey’s prize tulip bulbs.
  • Some products may be harmful to your driveway. For example, rock salt is a popular option because it is inexpensive, but it can damage concrete.
  • Finally, driveway deicers are a situation where a little goes a long way. That is, you should use just enough to get the job done.

The Ultimate Deicing Solution

In-ground electric snow-melting mats can be installed under walkways and driveways, and this amazing technology makes snow and ice removal as easy as the flick of a switch. It is, however, very expensive and not something you can take with you if you move. Installing in-ground melting mats is out of the realm of DIY solutions, but it could be the most effective method to keep your in-laws from getting stuck in your driveway for the weekend.

Check out all the chemical & lubricant products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on driveway deicer, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

about author

Benjamin Jerew

Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.

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