Bob Vila Radio: Solutions for Icy Surfaces

There's more than one way to add traction to an icy driveway or walk in the winter. Among the most popular options, rock salt and sand, which is the right one for you? Read on to find out!

By Bob Vila | Updated May 4, 2017 1:19 PM

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We want our driveways and walks not to be the scene of injury during the long, icy winter. But if you’re taking the proactive step of adding traction to otherwise slippery surfaces, are you better off using rock salt or sand?

Solutions for Icy Surfaces




Rock salt keeps surfaces from getting icy in the first place. Plus, it works quickly to melt ice that’s already formed. There are a couple caveats, though. One is that rock salt usually stops being effective below 12 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re not careful, it can also hurt your plants and gradually compromise concrete it comes into contact with. The wise course? Use it sparingly and only during brief windows of time.

Sand works differently. It doesn’t melt ice or prevent it forming, but it does make slippery surfaces much safer to traverse. On the plus side, it works at any temperature, but on the down side, it must be reapplied if buried on a fresh layer of snowfall. (Note: Choose sandbox sand, not mason’s sand.)

If you don’t have any rock salt or sand on hand, remember that in a pinch, you can always rely on kitty litter, saw dust, or wood ash to make driveways and walkways more easily passable when the going gets tough.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!