Salt is one of the more popular and handier items that people often use for melting ice. We see it being scattered in the streets, on pavements, and in concrete driveways, both to melt and prevent the buildup of ice. But does it take a special kind of salt to effectively do the job, or will any old salt do the trick?
You can use regular table salt to melt ice. It has properties which make it a great choice if you want to get rid of ice fast. Table salt has smaller granules so it is better able to dissolve into the ice. The faster a substance is able to break down, the quicker it succeeds in melting ice.
I will be talking about why regular salt is better and faster than rock salt in melting ice or snow. I will also discuss the science behind the ability of salt to melt ice. Furthermore, I will provide tips on how you can make use of this handy kitchen staple in quickly getting rid of ice around your home.
Can I Use Table Salt To Melt Ice or Snow?
You can use table salt to melt ice or snow. It is a cheaper alternative option and is almost always readily available. You may think that rock salt is the better option because it is more commonly used for melting ice. However, regular table salt actually does the job better.
What makes salt effective in melting ice is its ability to dissolve in water (source: Atlas Landscapes).
The finer the salt is, the more surface area it is able to cover and the quicker it is able to dissolve. This means that since table salt has a finer consistency than rock salt granules, it is able to cover more of the ice at once, can dissolve sooner, and can then melt ice faster.
On the other hand, rock salt is unrefined, has larger particles, and has more insoluble impurities than table salt (source: Sciencing).
This makes rock salt granules dissolve slower compared to table salt. It also does not fully break down, leaving behind impurities which interfere in quickly and completely melting ice.
Why Does Table Salt Melt Ice?
Table salt melts ice by dissolving into it. When it dissolves, it pushes water molecules further apart and lowers the freezing point of water. Molecules are closer together when an object is in its solid state compared to when it is in its liquid state.
When salt is introduced to ice, the salt particles will dissolve and occupy the space between the water molecules, making it difficult for them to get back closer together. This is when ice begins to melt (source: Sciencing & Elementary Science Program).
As more of the salt particles invade the spaces between the water molecules, it will become more and more difficult for water to go back to its solid state – ice (source: Scientific American).
Can I Use Table Salt To Melt Ice on Steps or My Driveway?
You can use table salt to melt ice or snow on your steps or in your driveway. You could sprinkle it directly over the ice, making sure that it covers the area you want to melt ice from. The more ice the table salt granules get into contact with, the faster it is able to melt ice.
A way to melt ice even faster with table salt is by dissolving it first in water. The more salt you dissolve in the water, the lower the freezing point of the salt solution.
Remember that when salt is able to lower the freezing point of water, its molecules will not be able to go back to a solid state (ice). Here is how you do it (source: The Scotsman):
- Mix 1 tablespoon of table salt with 2 cups of water.
- Put on your warm winter clothes – hat, scarf, gloves, boots, coat, etc.
- Carefully pour the salt solution over your steps or concrete driveway.
- Pat the solution further into the ice using a shovel. Do not step on it as the melting ice can get very slippery.
- Shovel out the melted ice carefully; it will be slushy.
You may also use this technique for your windows, car’s windscreen, and other glass surfaces. Use a spatula or any plastic or rubbery material to scrape off the melted ice.
I recommend using the anngrowy 41″ Ice Scraper Snow Brush from Amazon.com. It comes with three different tools to cover all of your ice and snow removal needs. Plus, everything is made of scratch-resistant materials so that it won’t scratch up your car or its windshield while you’re using it.
Hopefully, this article will be useful for you the next time you find yourself waking up to a chilly, icy morning. Remember that your trusty stash of table salt could help you jumpstart your day.