Eco-friendly Ways to Deice

Date: January 24, 2017      Publication: Bottom Line's Household Magic      Source: Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen       Print:

It comforts us to see rock salt strewed all over our city sidewalks after a bout of snow and ice, but it’s not great for the environment. So if you live among grass and trees, try these ice-melting alternatives to make your paths less slippery…

Don’t salt near your garden. If the sidewalk or patio that needs deicing is near your garden, do not use rock salt (or other commercial rock salt–like products with chemicals). The salt can leach into the soil and may poison your plants. Instead, use natural clay kitty litter, sand or granular fertilizer (dry, tiny pellets that are natural or synthetic…available at garden-supply stores).

Distribute a sprinkling of baking soda. It will melt the ice and help prevent slipping. And you don’t have to worry about baking soda eating away at the outdoor ground cover or the soles of your shoes. (And if it gets tracked into the house, it may even help clean the floor.)


Dust your deck with this pantry favorite. When your wooden deck is iced over, get out the coarse-ground cornmeal. A generous scattering will provide traction without damaging the wood or harming your garden.

Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen are folk-remedy experts and home tipsters based in New York City. They have spent decades collecting "cures from the cupboard” and are authors of several books, including Bottom Line's Treasury of Home Remedies & Natural Cures and Bottom Line's Household Magic.