4 ways to keep ice off your sidewalks

Have you ever seen your life flash before your eyes as your feet slipped out from under you on a particularly icy winter day? Or cringed as you watched Jimmy, your favourite pizza delivery guy, weave and wobble his way toward your door? Luckily, there are several simple ways to keep your sidewalk and driveway free of ice to help you avoid future slip-ups. Plus, they could even help prevent the potential liability claim that could come up if Jimmy and your precious pizza were to experience a less-than-comfy landing on your front steps.

Rock salt

Rock salt, also known as sodium chloride, is used to melt ice and prevent new ice from building up on roads, sidewalks, and parking lots across the country. Inexpensive and relatively easy to track down, rock salt is popular for home use, too.

Helps melt existing ice and prevents new ice from forming, making it effective when streets and sidewalks can’t be cleared quickly enough
Known to reduce the number of car accidents on city streets
Inexpensive and widely available

Can be harmful to animals (salt exposure can cause irritated paws, dehydration, bacterial infections, and other ailments)
Can speed up the rusting process in metal and damage concrete over time
Can damage shrubs and other plants when overapplied, which can hurt your home’s curb appeal
Salt runoff can pollute local waterways
Only works properly at temperatures above -10°C
Rock salt may be one of the most efficient ice melting products on the market, but it can also be harmful to the environment in high amounts — and when road maintenance crews and neighbourhoods full of sidewalks and driveways all choose to use salt, it can add up pretty quickly. So, before you grab that big bargain bag of rock salt and scatter it on your slippery sidewalk, you may want to consider other alternatives.

Rock salt, sand, de-icers, and DIY alternatives can all help you keep your sidewalk and driveway free of ice, but which should you choose? Before you decide, weigh the pros and cons of each.


Sand can be spread on top of ice and snow to add traction and prevent slipping on roads and sidewalks. While it doesn’t melt ice or snow like salt can, it does give extra grip when applied properly (and reapplied as needed).

Provides traction on icy or snowy roads or sidewalks
Works at any temperature as long as it is applied consistently over the ice and reapplied regularly
Safer for the environment and animals

Doesn’t melt ice or snow, so it has to be reapplied as new snow or ice builds up on the concrete
Doesn’t dissolve like salt, so it can leave more residue behind (and extra cleanup on your part) when the snow or ice melts

Pet-safe de-icers

Some de-icing products pride themselves on being salt-free and animal-friendly. Visit your local pet store to find out what’s best for your four-legged friend.

Easier on paws than rock salt
Adds traction to ice to prevent slips
Safe for plants and shrubs
Melts ice and prevents new ice from building up

Some say these no-salt formulas aren’t as effective as rock salt when it comes to melting ice
Much more costly to purchase than salt or other alternatives
Colour of some products may be messy when tracked into the house

DIY alternatives to salt

The answer to your slippery porch problems could be hiding in plain sight in your own cupboards. Many household products (like dry coffee grounds, birdseed, non-clumping kitty litter, or ash from your fireplace) can provide good traction on icy surfaces. While some of these may be messy and likely won’t melt ice, they can prevent nasty bumps and bruises when they’re scattered on sidewalks and porches.

There are many more homemade and store-bought de-icing options available. Be sure to do your research and weigh the pros and cons of each before you make your pick, and it wouldn’t hurt to test out a small area before you dive right in with an alternative solution.

We all know that accidents sometimes happen. To learn more about how the liability portion of your home insurance policy can protect you in case of a mishap, reach out to your Highcourt Breckles Insurance Broker today.


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