Tackling Winter Sidewalk Ice

Tackling Winter Sidewalk Ice

A wintry mix can wreak havoc on stairs, sidewalks, and driveways. Black ice is especially dangerous since it’s often unseen. We can go slipping and sliding, and the next thing we know we fall and suffer a concussion or broken bone. Don’t let this happen to you or anyone else. Here are some methods to help keep your outdoor space ice-free this winter.

Popular Ice Removal Products

Rock salt, sand, de-icers, and DIY alternatives can all help keep the ice off sidewalks, stairs, and driveways. Here are the pros and cons of each.

Rock Salt

Also known as sodium chloride, rock salt is used on roadways and in parking lots. It’s inexpensive and easy to find. It helps melt existing ice and prevents new ice from forming. Rock salt also reduces the number of car accidents. This product is also popular for home use.

In high amounts, rock salt can be harmful to animals, encourage rust to form, damage concrete, hurt shrubs and plants, and pollute local waterways. Don’t use too much of it.


Sand adds traction when spread on top of ice and snow. It’s safe for the environment and animals. To get the best results, apply sand consistently over the ice and reapply it regularly. Unlike salt, sand doesn’t melt snow or ice and doesn’t dissolve. Expect to clean up the residue.

Pet-Friendly De-Icers

Some pet stores offer salt-free products that won’t hurt plants or animals. These are easy on paws and add traction on ice. They are perfect for our four-legged friends. However, they are more expensive than salt and some people claim they don’t work as well.

DIY De-Icer Alternatives

Many household products can provide good traction on icy surfaces. These include dry coffee grounds, birdseed, kitty litter, and fireplace ashes. Homemade and store-bought de-icing options are also available. Do your research before you jump in. It’s also a good idea to test out a small area with an alternative solution before you use it.

Natural De-Icing Methods

Pickle juice. It has salt that quickly melts ice from car windows and other surfaces. Pickle juice effectively removes black ice from sidewalks and driveways. Remember to sweep off the residue to stop ice from reforming.

Homemade de-icer. A mixture of rubbing alcohol and water can be used in a pinch to get ice off your windshield. Use a spray bottle to cover the windows. Add a tablespoon of dish soap to the mix to prevent further ice build-up. 

Saltwater mix. This can also clear your windshield. Road salt mixed with some water will remove the thin layer of ice. Use the wipers to push the slush away. The salt mixture isn’t good for vehicles, so use it sparingly.

Your own breath. That’s right. If you have a frozen door lock, put the end of a straw right up to the lock. Blow into the straw with your warm breath until the ice melts.

Hot water. When the temperature rises, pour hot water over icy spots on pavement. Once the ice melts, sweep or shovel it off. A towel can be used to soak up some of the water.

Injury Stats and Tips

According to the CDC, an estimated one million Americans are hurt every year from falls on snow and ice. About 17,000 people die as a result of their injuries. Common injuries include broken bones, concussions, muscle sprains and ligament strains, and compression fractures. To avoid injuries, wear proper outdoor footwear, move slowly, use handrails, and take small steps.

Prepare for Winter

Get your outdoor spaces ready for winter. The professionals at Peak Power Wash can help. Let us deep clean your home exterior, deck, sidewalk, or driveway before harsh weather arrives. We use a technique called “soft wash”, which reduces potential harm to surfaces. Contact us at 443-686-WASH or visit our website to request a free estimate.



Our home power washing and home pressure washing service area includes, but is not limited to: Archdale, Clemmons, Eden, Elon, Graham, Greensboro, High Point, Jamestown, King, Kernersville, Lewisville, Madison, Mayoden, Oak Ridge, Reidsville, Summerfield, Stokesdale, Thomasville, Trinity, Walkertown, Winstom Salem, North Carolina