How Do You Melt Ice Without Damaging Concrete?

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A concrete driveway is an excellent addition to your home’s curb appeal. Keep your home’s exterior looking stunning and well maintained with these winter driveway tips. Don’t let the harsh winter in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky cause your concrete drive to turn into a sheet of ice or a cracked, deformed parking area, but extend its lifetime with Neyra Paving and these maintenance tips you can perform on your own.

Dangers of Using Salt

One of the most common tips for ice and snow removal is to use de-icing salt. While this salt may quickly melt ice and snow, it’s not recommended for use on your concrete. Using salt on concrete can actually reduce its lifespan and cause serious damage.

Salt is a poor option for long-term concrete maintenance because it melts ice and snow and creates a slush of salt and water. Concrete naturally absorbs some water, but adding salt encourages even more water retention. As the concrete surface absorbs water and salt attracts water, your drive can become saturated. This poses a serious problem for the future of your driveway.

You may not notice saturation as you pour de-icing salt and watch it clear your drive. Unfortunately, this salt-water mixture can freeze later on. The expansion caused by saturated water freezing can crack your concrete. Avoid peeling, flaking, and pitting by using one or more of these alternative steps.

Some de-icing salt is labeled as pet safe, but many aren’t. Most de-icing salt is sodium chloride, sometimes with additives, sometimes as pure crystals. Sodium chloride is so good at drawing water that it can cause dryness and irritation if it touches exposed skin. It can also be harmful if swallowed, particularly by young children.

Unfortunately, not removing snow and ice isn’t an option. Letting snow pile up can not only cause damage through the freeze/thaw cycle, but it can also leave your driveway difficult and dangerous to use. Don’t let your small car or SUV get snowed in after a blizzard, but use a safe removal strategy to clear the way for your vehicles.

Another issue with leaving snow and ice to accumulate on your drive is the risk of falling. Ice, hidden under a layer of snow can cause you to lose traction and fall unexpectedly. If there’s a blanket of snow, this is a minor embarrassment; if there isn’t any snow coverage or if you slip on stairs, then it could cause serious injury.

Remove Excess Snow

The best protection is removal. While this may be a more time-consuming option, physically removing snow is a safer way to avoid saturation and an unsafe walking and driving surface. A small driveway is easy to clear with a shovel, but homeowners with larger driveways should consider a snowblower. Be sure to use a plastic shovel or snow blower blade, as metal blades can crack and chip the surface of your driveway.

A large buildup of snow can also be the cause of concrete water retention. Snow is insulating, so a large amount of it can create higher temperatures next to your concrete driveway. The melted snow then freezes as the outdoor temperature drops, which turns into a layer of ice on your drive. Routine snow removal offers you the best chance of preventing ice from building up in the first place.

Spread Cat Litter

Cat litter is an unlikely source of snow and ice removal. Cat litter can melt ice and snow, but it doesn’t have the same water retention properties as de-icing salt. Simply spread natural cat litter just like de-icing salt. Natural litter doesn’t include the same chemical additives that may be toxic to pets and wild animals. It’s a great way to keep your driveway safe in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky without harming the local wildlife.

Consider Gravel or Sand

Another option is to simply add traction to your icy concrete. Gravel, sand, or even wood chips won’t remove the snow or ice on your surface, but they can make it safer to walk and drive on it. Spread gravel or sand across the slippery surface. This won’t create concrete maintenance issues and allows you to continue to use your driveway safely.

Use caution with this tactic. You may need to remove large amounts of snow from your driveway or walkway before you spread traction material. Extensive use of it can also leave you with a cleaning task in the spring. Because these materials don’t melt ice or snow, they won’t prevent your vehicle from getting stuck in a snowdrift.

Use Heated Mats

Some commercial locations and homeowners use heated mats to keep their outdoor stairs safe in the winter. If you have one or more stairs leading to or from your driveway, it’s particularly important to keep these areas safe to walk on. Choose a product that’s specifically designed to be used in outdoor conditions. Turn them on to easily melt ice and snow and offer a comfortable step for year-round access. Melting snow in this way doesn’t add salt to the mix, which reduces the risk of freezing damage.

Add a Sealer

This task won’t remove ice and snow from your driveway, but it can increase the lifetime of your outdoor concrete surface and avoid the worst effects of freezing water. The main reason ice and snow buildup damages your concrete driveway is that water can penetrate the surface of your surface before freezing again. Add a sealer to cover over the porous surface of your driveway and extend the lifetime of this sturdy surface.

A sealer can come in many different forms for different applications. Many sealer products also include dust reduction, stain repellency, and abrasion resistance for greater convenience. Work with a qualified concrete contractor in your local area to find the best sealer type for your driveway and your local climate.

Depending on the sealer you choose and your snow removal strategy, you may need to apply sealer every year or every three years. Discuss the ideal timeline with your team before you choose a sealer. Work with a professional contracting team to ensure the material is properly cleaned, prepared, and coated to avoid water damage this winter.

Work With Neyra Paving

All of these maintenance tips won’t make a significant difference if you don’t have a quality concrete surface. Be sure you work with an experienced paving team for any installation or maintenance services. A local team understands the best sealer and installation process for your climate. Discuss your typical applications to ensure your driveway has the weight rating necessary for your vehicles. Any work trucks, motorhomes, or other large equipment may require a thicker slab of concrete to prevent cracking.

For more tips on ice removal, sealer options, and concrete repair services, contact Neyra Paving. Work with a leader in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky to protect your driveway and avoid costly damage. Avoid using de-icing salt and enjoy a safe, functional, and beautiful driveway all winter long. You can also reach out by phone by calling (513) 733-1001.


Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Chiyacat