The Best Ice Melts of 2023

When snow falls and ice forms, banishing the slippery stuff is a priority. Here’s how to find the best ice melt for your surfaces, climate, and budget.

By Rebecca Wolken | Updated Jan 17, 2023 4:19 PM

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Best Ice Melt Options

Photo: amazon.com

Every year as the weather turns chilly, most people pull out the heavy coats, rugged boots, and of course, ice melt—the first defense against slick, dangerous conditions on driveways, sidewalks, and other surfaces. Ice melt is a chemical product that is sprinkled on surfaces to melt ice and snow.

There are several different types of ice melt; some are suited to specific surfaces, while some are more environmentally friendly, and are therefore safer for plants and pets than others. Read on to learn what features to look for and why the following products are considered among the best ice melts in their respective categories.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Green Gobbler Fast-Acting Pet Safe Ice Melt
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Redmond All-Natural Granular Ice Slicer 
  3. BEST LONG-LASTING COVERAGE: Pellets of of Fire Calcium Chloride Snow and Ice Melter
  4. BEST FOR CONCRETE: Green Gobbler Gobbler Snow and Ice Melt Pellets
  5. BEST FOR ASPHALT: Harris Pet-Friendly Ice-and-Snow Safe Melt
  6. BEST FOR PETS: Natural Rapport The Only Pet-Safe Ice Melt You Need
  7. BEST WITH COLOR: Snow Joe Nature + Pet Friendly Melt-2-Go Ice Melter
  8. BEST LIQUID: Branch Creek Entry Chloride-Free Liquid Ice Melt
  9. BEST FOR PAVERS: Prestone Driveway Heat Pellet Ice Melt
Best Ice Melt Options

Photo: amazon.com

How We Chose the Best Ice Melts 

We researched the best snow melt products in their respective categories and discovered that the best options are determined by their form and ease of use, ingredients, compatible surfaces, and other special features included by top brands.

After extensive product research, we included options in our list of top picks that were made in granulated, pellet, and liquid form, each of which is easy to spread by hand, with a shovel or spreader, a scoop, or a household cup. Thus, we ensured that each of the products chosen was easy to spread on driveways, walkways, steps, parking lots, patios, and even decks.

As for ingredients, we prioritized magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate, organic compounds, and earth minerals, all of which are safe for pets, children, vegetation, concrete, and even waterways. For added user-friendliness, many of the top products listed are able to melt ice and snow in temperatures of -15 to over -25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Our Top Picks

While they may not be quite as diverse as snowflakes, ice melters do have a variety of forms and features. This list of quality products will help shoppers choose the best ice melt for their specific situation.

Best Overall

Best Ice Melt Options: Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt Fast Acting Treatment
Photo: amazon.com

Those looking for a fast and effective ice melt that’s safe to use around pets and plants will want to consider this Green Gobbler product. This pick, which gets our vote for best ice melter, can be used on driveways and other properly cured concrete surfaces won’t be corroded by Green Gobbler, which comes in small, round, easy-to-spread pellets that can work with many ice melt spreaders. The product performs in temperatures as low as -15 degrees and generates exothermic heat to help melt ice and snow quickly.

Harvested from the dead sea, the ingredients in this ice melt are less toxic than many others on the market. The company asserts that it won’t harm plants and that it’s unlikely for pets’ paws to become irritated by it.

Product Specs

  • Form: Pellets
  • Ingredient(s): Magnesium chloride
  • Compatible surface types: Sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and patios

Pros

  • Easy-to-spread pellets can be applied by hand, with a shovel, or with a household cup
  • Works in frigid temperatures, reaching as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Generates exothermic heat to keep melting snow and ice over time
  • Safe for pets; less likely to irritate paws or cause gastrointestinal problems if ingested

Cons

  • Some users found container hard to open and close again

Get the Green Gobbler fast-acting ice melt at Amazon or Green Gobbler.

Best Bang for the Buck

Best Ice Melt Option: Redmond Ice Slicer Ice Melt
Photo: amazon.com

Concentrated and effective, the Redmond Ice Slicer is packed with dye-free, urea-free, and polymer-free chloride salts and earth minerals that reduce snow and ice. This affordable ice melt comes in a 10-pound bag that can treat 400 square feet. Because it’s an all-natural blend, Redmond Ice Slicer is considered one of the best snow melts for children, pets, vegetation, and waterways. It can be applied easily by hand, with a shovel, or a household cup.

This top pick’s unique blend of ingredients can melt snow and ice three times faster than comparable options, and the Organic Materials Review Institute’s listing proves that this product is safe and organic for household use. However, overapplication can lead to red spots and smears on driveways and walkways.

Product Specs

  • Form: Granules
  • Ingredient(s): Chloride salts and earth minerals
  • Compatible surface types: Sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots

Pros

  • Concentrated formula melts 3 times faster than comparable ice melts
  • Dye-free, urea-free, and polymer-free; safe to use around pets and children
  • 10-pound bag can be used to treat up to 400 square feet
  • Lower price point compared to similar ice melts on the market

Cons

  • Reddish residue may be left behind if this ice melt is overapplied
  • Some users say the packaging isn’t sturdy enough to hold the 10-pound quantity

Get the Redmond ice melt at Amazon or Ice Slicer.

Best Long-Lasting Coverage

Best Ice Melt Option: Pellets of Fire Snow & Ice Melter
Photo: amazon.com

If shoppers regularly encounter seriously frigid temperatures, Pellets of Fire from North Rock Minerals may become the ice melt they depend on. This calcium chloride ice melt works in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit, melting upon contact. Considered the best snow salt for overnight use, Pellets of Fire typically leaves driveways and sidewalks clear of ice and snow by morning.

Available in a 9-pound jug, a 20- or 50-pound bag, and a 50-pound bucket, this product comes in pellet form, which works great in spreaders and creates a layer of grit for better traction for foot traffic and cars. Its sturdy bag options boast a tight-sealing package for safe, easy storage and to ensure the pellets maintain effectiveness.

Product Specs

  • Form: Pellets
  • Ingredient(s): Calcium chloride
  • Compatible surface types: Sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots

Pros

  • Works in frigid temperatures reaching as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Keeps melting ice and snow for over 24 hours; suitable for overnight use
  • Can be distributed with a spreader, shovel, household cup, or by hand
  • Sturdy packaging; bags have a tight enclosed seal for safe storage

Cons

  • Heavy package; may be hard to carry around during application

Get the Pellets of Fire ice melt at Amazon or The Home Depot.

Best For Concrete

Best Ice Melt Options: Green Gobbler 96% Pure Calcium Chloride
Photo: amazon.com

Those concerned about protecting their concrete from corrosive chemicals may want to give this Green Gobbler ice melt a go. Calcium chloride is noncorrosive on concrete and can melt ice while helping to prevent potholes in driveways, pathways, and porches. It comes in easy-to-spread pellets and works up to four times faster than traditional rock salt by creating exothermic heat to immediately start melting snow and ice.

The company touts its formula as being as safe around plants as it is on pavement. Though it can perform in temperatures reaching as low as -40 degrees, it has a low-range formula that can’t keep up as temperatures rise and fall.

Product Specs

  • Form: Pellets
  • Ingredient(s): 93 percent calcium chloride
  • Compatible surface types: Driveways, sidewalks, pathways, porches, and roofs

Pros

  • Noncorrosive formula will not damage any surface upon or during application
  • Easy-to-spread pellets; works 4 times faster than comparable ice melts
  • Creates exothermic heat to keep ice and snow melting over time
  • Can melt away ice in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit

Cons

  • Pricey compared to similar snow and ice melts on the market
  • Limited quantity; may not be enough to treat large driveways or for reuse

Get the Green Gobbler ice melt pellets at Amazon or Green Gobbler.

Best For Asphalt

Best Ice Melt Options: HARRIS Safe Melt Pet Friendly Ice and Snow Melter
Photo: amazon.com

Folks who want a smooth asphalt driveway to come through the cold months unscathed may want to check out this Harris product. It effectively melts ice and snow at temperatures reaching -13 degrees via a 100-percent magnesium chloride formula that gets to work immediately upon contact. It’s also safe for pet paws and vegetation.

Packaged in a large, durable bucket, this ice melt can be saved for next year without the risk of clumping. The pellet shape of this de-icer makes it well suited to use with a spreader, and it comes with a handy scoop for quick application if needed.

Product Specs

  • Form: Pellets
  • Ingredient(s): Magnesium chloride
  • Compatible surface types: Patios, driveways, steps, sidewalks, balconies, walkways, and roadways

Pros

  • Effective in temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit; begins working on contact
  • Durable bucket allows for a tight seal and safe storage; keeps ice melt fresh
  • 15-pound bucket includes a scoop that makes distributing the pellets easy

Cons

  • May cause eye and skin irritation if it is used incorrectly

Get the Harris ice melt at The Home Depot, Tractor Supply Co., or PF Harris.

Best for Pets

Best Ice Melt Options: Natural Rapport Pet Friendly Ice Melt
Photo: amazon.com

All-around safety is a priority for this ice melt product that boasts a proprietary formula specifically designed to be the safest ice melt for pets, plants, and the environment. Considered the best ice melt for pets’ paws, this Natural Rapport product is less corrosive on metal, wood, and concrete than conventional rock salt, and is also safer on carpet and other flooring materials, should our furry friends or kids track it into the house.

To prevent waste, the crystals are green in color so users can see where they’ve applied them. The fast-acting, long-lasting formula is time released to help prevent sidewalks and driveways from refreezing. Considered the safest ice melt for gardeners, animal lovers, and the ecologically concerned, this biodegradable product may lend peace of mind while de-icing.

Product Specs

  • Form: Granules
  • Ingredient(s): Calcium magnesium acetate; dolomite; proprietary organic compound (ProtectRX); sodium, magnesium, and potassium chloride
  • Compatible surface types: Porches, walkways, and driveways

Pros

  • Safe to use around pets and children, plants, and vegetation
  • Will not corrode on metal, wood, and concrete surfaces; will not damage carpeting or flooring
  • Fast-acting and long-lasting formula; works on contact and keeps melting ice and snow over time
  • This ice melt has a biodegradable formula that will not poison waterways

Cons

  • Limited quantity per purchase; may not be suitable for large spaces
  • May wear off or wash away, requiring reapplication after every snowfall

Get the Natural Rapport ice melt at Amazon, Chewy, or Natural Rapport.

Best With Color

The Best Ice Melt Option: Snow Joe Nature + Pet Friendly Melt-2-Go Ice Melter
Photo: amazon.com

Color-coated crystals are this Snow Joe ice melt’s secret weapon. This makes it easy to see where the product has already been spread, a visual cue that helps reduce wasteful reapplication.

Although the color is helpful outdoors, the calcium magnesium acetate won’t stain or otherwise damage carpeting and other flooring. It’s also safe to use on metal and concrete, as well as being pet and plant friendly. It boasts a long-lasting, time-released formula that works in frigid temperatures.

Product Specs

  • Form: Crystals
  • Ingredient(s): Calcium magnesium acetate
  • Compatible surface types: Walkways, driveways, parking lots, and steps

Pros

  • Won’t dry out or irritate skin; can be safely distributed without need for protective clothing
  • Made from environmentally benign deicing agent; delivers fast, effective results without damaging metal surfaces
  • Works immediately upon contact; time-release formula ensures coverage for added protection

Cons

  • Limited quantity compared to similar ice melts on the market
  • May require several uses for continued protection against ice and snow

Get the Snow Joe ice melt at Amazon.

Best Liquid

Best Ice Melt Options: Branch Creek Entry Chloride-Free
Photo: amazon.com

When a snow storm is approaching, shoppers may want to reach for this liquid ice melt. Apply to pathways and driveways with a garden sprayer prior to the weather event and ice and snow won’t build up. It can even be used the night before a storm for ice-free surfaces in the morning. With a working temperature of -19 degrees Fahrenheit, this de-icer works hard even in frigid temperatures.

A chloride-free formula makes this de-icer gentle on surfaces, virtually noncorrosive, and safe for use around pets and plants. With no expiration date and a resealable package, this liquid ice melt can be used against snow and ice from one year to the next.

Product Specs

  • Form: Liquid
  • Ingredient(s): Chloride-free formulation
  • Compatible surface types: Walkways, driveways, parking lots, and steps

Pros

  • Safe to apply with a garden sprayer for easy application
  • Works in frigid temperatures as low as -19 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Gentle on any surface it is applied to; will not erode or corrode any concrete
  • Safe for use around pets and children as well as vegetation

Cons

  • Must be applied before a snowfall for maximum clearing and melting
  • Pricey compared to similar liquid ice melts on the market

Get the Branch Creek ice melt at Amazon, Ace Hardware (2.5 gallons), or Bed Bath & Beyond.

Best For Pavers

The Best Ice Melts Option: Prestone Driveway Heat Pellet Ice Melt
Photo: walmart.com

Keeping pavers free of ice and snow can be tough when temperatures drop below freezing, so shoppers may want to consider keeping a jug of Prestone Driveway Heat handy. This ice melt comes with all the traditional benefits of melting salts, with the added advantage of having a pellet form to break through ice quickly and be spread easily.

Made with a hygroscopic calcium chloride formula, this Prestone ice melt removes moisture from snow and ice in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, this top pick leaves little to no residue behind after use. The product can also be walked on and even driven over without any effect on its ability to melt ice.

Product Specs

  • Form: Pellets
  • Ingredient(s): Hygroscopic calcium chloride
  • Compatible surface types: Walkways, driveways, parking lots, and steps

Pros

  • Jug has a built-in applicator that makes distributing this ice melt easy
  • Typically works faster than other blended de-icers and rock salts
  • Works in frigid temperatures reaching as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Leaves no residue behind after use; requires no cleanup after use
  • Affordable compared to similar pellet ice melt options on the market

Cons

  • Quantity per jug is limited; may not be suitable for larger areas

Get the Prestone ice melt at AutoZone.

Jump to Our Top Picks



What to Consider When Choosing the Best Ice Melt 

Ice melt can be applied to a surface before or after snow or ice has fallen to lower the freezing point for water and allow the snow or ice to melt into a slush that’s easier to clear. Each type of ice melt product will perform differently depending on its form and the chemicals used. Conditions such as temperature, ground type, melting time, and environmental impact are essential to consider before purchasing an ice melt product.

Form

Ice melt is available in both solid and liquid formulations, each with pros and cons. Solid ice melt comes in pellets and granules. It works well for many applications and is typically the go-to solution for road crews dealing with icy and snowy weather. Less expensive and easier to store than liquid formulas, pellets and granules also make for a “crunchy” texture on surfaces that adds traction for walking and driving on, if slush is not removed. On the downside, solid ice melt can scatter more easily and could be displaced from the desired location with car or foot traffic. It tends to be slower acting and can get clumped together and therefore be less effective.

Liquid ice melt is a wise choice for lower temperature situations and when faster results are desired. When applied, liquid is less likely to scatter and miss its mark; it stays in place for longer-lasting results. Liquid de-icers, which tend to cost more, can be more challenging to transport and store because of their weight. Plus, if heavy rain ensues, the product can get washed away.

Self-heating ice melt, which comes in pellet and granular form, generates its own heat when in contact with ice and snow—a process known as an exothermic reaction. Unlike other products that must absorb moisture to create a brine to melt the ice, self-heating ice melt can get right to work.

Type

An ice melt works by absorbing the moisture on the top of the ice, creating what’s called brine, and working its way down to break the bond between the ice and the surface. This creates cracks and flakes that are safer to walk on and easier to remove. All of these products have a temperature limit: If temperatures plummet beyond that limit, the chemicals will no longer melt ice. Here’s what to expect from the various types available:

Calcium Chloride 

  • Less expensive than sodium acetate, but pricier than most other forms
  • Available as pellets, flakes, powder, and liquid
  • Forms a brine to lower freezing point and produces heat to melt ice
  • Good choice for concrete
  • Melting temperature of -25 degrees
  • Can kill plant life if applied too heavy
  • If it leaks into waterways it reduces oxygen levels and can kill aquatic life

Magnesium Chloride

  • Slow melting
  • Available in pellets or granules
  • More expensive than other ice melt
  • Releases its heat to melt ice
  • Less corrosive than calcium chloride or sodium chloride
  • Somewhat safer for plant life
  • Has a melting temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit

Calcium Magnesium Acetate

  • Less corrosive than rock salt (sodium chloride)
  • Available in pellets or granules
  • Requires larger applications to be effective
  • Pet-friendly option
  • Easier to clean up than others
  • Melting temperature of 20 degrees

Potassium Chloride 

  • Comes in pellets or granules
  • Pricier and less effective as other forms so not used much anymore
  • Safe for plants
  • Melting temperature of 25 degrees Fahrenheit

Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride)

  • One of the least expensive
  • Comes in granules
  • Less effective in colder temps
  • Corrosive to metals
  • Leaves white residue on surfaces
  • May kill plants if overused
  • Melting temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit

Urea/Carbonyl Diamide

  • Typically used as a fertilizer
  • Comes in pellets or granules
  • Contains nitrogen that can burn plants when used in excess
  • Rarely used anymore
  • Not effective in lower temps
  • Melting temperature of 25 degrees Fahrenheit

Surface Type

Many of the chemicals in ice melts can potentially damage surfaces, so it’s important to think about where you’ll be using a product. The most common areas are driveways, sidewalks, decks, and porches—all composed of a few different materials, such as concrete, asphalt, wood, and metal. Packaging and product descriptions of the best ice melts will reveal what materials they can be used on safely, so be sure to read this information prior to purchase. It would be unwise to apply a product that could corrode concrete, rust metal, or damage wood on those surfaces around your home.

Temperature

The quest for comfort and convenience in frigid weather has led to the invention of such products as heated jackets, heated gloves, and electric snow shovels. Similarly, certain ice melts have been developed to work in colder climates. Some products won’t work in temperatures lower than 20 degrees. This is acceptable if the temperature in your area seldom gets that low, but if you’re in a colder spot, these products won’t get the job done. If your location can reach less than 20 degrees, purchase a product made for lower temperatures.

Melting Time

The time it takes a product to melt ice and snow depends on several factors. Liquid ice melters and self-heating ice melters act fairly quickly. Unlike solid melters that take time to absorb moisture and create the brine, liquid products are already a brine. Self-heating ice melters have a similar advantage: Instead of absorbing moisture, the pellets will heat up quicker and melt the ice and snow faster than other ice melters. Tip: No matter what form you choose, you’ll still have some down time—put it to good use with one of the best ice scrapers to clean the windows of your car.

Longevity

Longevity in regard to ice melters refers to the products’ ability to keep working beyond the initial application period. A long-lasting ice melter is especially helpful when snowstorms or icy rain continues throughout the day—and you don’t want to come home to a skating rink in your carport. Although long-lasting ice melt tends to be more expensive, the cost can even out since you may be able to use less.

Safety and Environmental Impact

The chemicals in some ice melters can be hazardous to pets and plants. Plus, certain elements in ice melters can do environmental damage, such as killing wildlife that may ingest the pellets and aquatic life if it reaches waterways. Many people are concerned about the impact of using large amounts of these products outdoors, so it’s important to read product information carefully to understand the risks.

Tips for Using Ice Melt 

To ensure you get the best performance out of your purchase, employ these de-icing tips and tricks.

  • Adding sand to your ice melt can reduce the amount of product you use. This will also reduce potential damage to surfaces and improve traction.
  • Applying ice melts in layers will allow the product to work at its best. Adding a thin layer before, during (if possible), and after a weather event will yield the best results.
  • Even when products are safe for specific surfaces and considered better for plants, it’s still a good practice to scoop and remove any remaining product after it’s done its job. This will decrease the risk of damage to surfaces, pets, and plants.
  • Remove boots and wipe pets’ paws to avoid bringing chemicals into your home that could damage indoor surfaces.
  • All ice melters are most effective on surfaces already cleared of snow. This way, the product can immediately tackle the dangerous slippery layer rather than working through all the snow on top.

FAQs 

For those who would like further information about ice melts, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions.

Q. What is the best ice melt for driveways?

To ensure your driveway is ice-free, we recommend the Green Gobbler Fast-Acting Pet Safe Ice Melt, which is safe to use near pets, children, and vegetation. Plus, this pick is easy to spread and works in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Q. How does ice melt work?

Ice melters absorb moisture and create a brine that then melts snow and ice. This eventually breaks the bond between the ice and the surface creating a slush.

Q. Should you put ice melt down before or after it snows?

Both. Applying ice melt before—and after—it snows allows the product to work at it’s best.

Q. What ice melt won’t hurt concrete?

A solid, noncorrosive choice for concrete is the Green Gobbler Snow and Ice Melt Pellets. This ice melt is made with calcium chloride, which will not corrode concrete, no matter how many times it is applied to outdoor surfaces.

Q. Can you put ice melt on wood?

It depends. Some but not all ice melt products are formulated to avoid damaging wood, so read product descriptions carefully.

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