Winter is almost here, and many areas of the country are already dealing with snow, ice, and frigid temperatures. For those who will be dealing with winter for the next several months, it’s a good idea to get some helpful advice on salt and snow. We’re sharing some of these with you in hopes that they make your winter a little less tricky.

First, let’s take a look at some specific information around using salt. It’s vital to know when to use it and how much.

Know When Salts Won’t Work

It’s important to note that when the temperature hits 15 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, salt is no longer effective. If you are dealing with temperatures less than this, try sand instead of salt.

How Much Salt Is Necessary?

More salt does not mean faster melting. Use less than four pounds of salt per 1,000 square feet. One pound of salt is approximately equal to a 12-ounce cup. Leave a three-inch space between granules for best results.

What Can You Do Without Rock Salt?

If you don’t have rock salt, or consider it to be ineffective or too expensive, there are lots of other ways to clear ice and snow away so that you can safely navigate walkways and get vehicles running.

Forgo the Scraper

Instead of dealing with the scraper to get the snow and ice off your windshield, be prepared before it even starts. Place a large piece of cardboard on the windshield. Then cover the cardboard with an old towel or blanket. This will help prevent frost from forming on the windshield in the first place.

Table Salt in a Pinch

Although rock salt is used as the standard method for melting ice, it’s actually the same as table salt. If the store shelves are empty of rock salt, this is an easy alternative.

Mix ¼ cup of table salt into a quart of water. Heat it up until the salt is dissolved. Then pour it over icy steps and walkways. It should melt the ice immediately. It also won’t refreeze as fast, as it leaves a layer of salt on these surfaces.

Use a Seed Spreader to Spread Salt

Put your seed spreader to use in the winter by using it to spread salt on concrete areas. It will provide an even coverage while using less of the product. The less salt you use, the better, as that means less salt run off when rains come in the spring.

Floor Mats Can Get Your Vehicle Unstuck

If your vehicle is stuck in snow or ice, you can try using your floor mats to gain traction. Flip them over and place them under the wheel or wheels stuck. Then try to get out again. This is an easy way to get moving without a lot of work.

Be Unconventional with Tools

You can actually use a garden shovel for clearing a driveway if you don’t have a snow shovel. Use it to break the ice and snow into chunks. Then use a leaf blower and blow all the ice off into the grass. This is a chance to be clever and get a driveway cleared out fast.

Cat Litter for Traction

You’ve probably heard this one before, but it really does work. Use cat litter around the tires that are stuck and that you can’t shovel any longer. This should give you enough traction to get unstuck.

Spiked Shoes

Have any old cleats sitting around? They are a great option for working in the snow and ice. You could save yourself from a serious fall with the right footwear.

Water Softener Trick

Rock salt is expensive and often gets purchased quickly, so it’s nice to have different options. You can choose to buy water softener salt instead. It’s 98.5% salt and costs less than rock salt.

Protect Your Vehicle from Rock Salt

After you’ve de-iced your walkways and are able to safely move your vehicle, you’ll want to be aware of how rock salt can damage your vehicle.

The more rock salt that comes in contact with your vehicle, the greater chance that rust will begin to form. Here’s how it happens:

  1. Water puts oxygen and carbon dioxide in contact with metal car parts.
  2. Free-floating ions in the road salt come in contact with the water that is present.
  3. These ions speed up the formation of iron oxide.
  4. Rust begins forming.

Rust is a layer of iron oxide, which can appear after exposure to oxygen. When salt and water come together, the rusting process speeds up versus normal conditions.

This is a normal process that you cannot completely abate. However, you can keep this to a minimum if you take steps to protect your vehicle from the effects of salty roads.

The best cure is to wash and wax your vehicle regularly, especially before and during winter. The more often you do this, the more salt that gets removed.

Sealing your undercarriage is a good idea as well. It’s often the parts of your vehicle that you don’t see that snow salt can damage the most. Consider how to best protect these to limit the damage to your vehicle from salt.

Whatever you use to remove the ice and snow, always be careful to ensure neither you nor any property is damaged.